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Historic Frankfort Avenue

Shopping, dining and sightseeing are top tourist activities, and Louisville’s Frankfort Avenue has been a destination to which many have flocked for decades.

Originally called the Louisville and Shelbyville Turnpike, this charming, five-mile stretch of roadway is rich in history and architecture. Several significant structures still stand and are in use today.

DiFabio’s Casapela Italian Restaurant was once Three Mile Tollhouse and may have been built as early as 1817.

According to the Frankfort Avenue Business Association, it was so named because it was located three miles from the Jefferson County Courthouse in Louisville’s center.

The Irish Rover The building later served as the Clifton Police Office and jail, after the turnpike system was discontinued in 1901.

Located next door to the tollhouse was Widman’s Saloon and Grocery where weary travelers found rest and relaxation for nearly 75 years, beginning in 1852.

That building now houses The Irish Rover restaurant.

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) was founded on Frankfort Avenue in 1858, receiving its own facility in 1883.

The APH is the world's largest company devoted solely to researching, developing, and manufacturing products for the blind and visually impaired… and is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States.

 Albert A. Stoll Firehouse Other gems to be found along the corridor include the Albert A. Stoll Firehouse — one of the oldest intact firehouses in the country; the former Hilltop Theater — the first movie house in the eastern part of Louisville; and a former hardware store that is now the home of Clifton’s Pizza, where historic photos of the area line the walls.

The University of Louisville Archives and Photographic Archives also offers a visual record of Frankfort Avenue’s evolution.

Etc.:

  • Frankfort Avenue was named for Kentucky’s state capital.
  • Frankfort Avenue runs from River Road (at the Ohio River) to Lexington Avenue in St. Matthew’s. In the late 1700s, it was a pathway for buffalo and migrating Native Americans.
  • Frankfort Avenue has also been previously known as the Frankfort-Lexington Turnpike and Highway 60.
  • According to the Frankfort Avenue Business Association, it was and is today one of the Commonwealth’s most frequently used roads.
  • Three Mile Tollhouse was the home of the Tollhouse Restaurant in the late twentieth century. (From: The MUSEUM of the AMERICAN PRINTING HOUSE FOR THE BLIND’s Clifton: A Historical Walking Tour)
  • Both Three Mile Tollhouse and Widman’s Saloon and Grocery are on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Another former saloon along Frankfort Avenue was called Spect’s. The building is now home to Bourbon’s Bistro.
  • Widman’s was one of the first commercial buildings built along the tollroad.
  • The Albert A.Stoll Firehouse was originally known as Hook and Ladder #3.
  • The Peterson-Dumesnil House, an historic home near located very near Frankfort Avenue, is another important structure in the area. Learn more and get a look inside in our Season Three Et Cetera segment.
Program 519
"Louisville Life" attends Bourbon Academy, checks out the Blue Apple Players theater company, celebrates moms and more! (#519)