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Digital Collections : Louisville Storefronts and Saloons Album circa 1912

Louisville Storefronts and Saloons Album circa 1912

About the Collection

The Louisville Storefronts & Saloons Album (ca. 1912) collection consists of 114 exterior photographs of predominantly commercial buildings around the Central Business District, Portland, and Russell neighborhoods of Louisville, Kentucky in the early decades of the twentieth century, and 107 accompanying pages outlining specific information for each property including street number, value, former owners, insurance company, tenant and rent amount, as well as a hand-drawn survey; this information also exists for an additional 108 properties lacking accompanying photographs. Nearly all of the images in this collection show a corner property, many with advertisements for food products and beer in the windows and painted on the exterior walls. Some images show people, proprietors, and patrons standing around the building, and sometimes in the doorways or windows, but the majority of images do not include any people.

Though the original purpose of the album remains unknown, analysis suggests that it was put together for a single owner of all the properties, since the owner name is not listed in any of the information pages. Research into deed records of the addresses listed in the album suggest this owner may have been the Metropolitan Realty Company, who purchased these properties (and many others not pictured in this album) from the Columbia (Finance and) Trust Company in partnership with the Central Consumers Company in 1909 (Jefferson County, Ky. deed book 700, page 28).

The Central Consumers Co. was formed in Louisville in 1901 when a group of local breweries merged to create one large brewery. Comprised of the formerly independent Fehr Brewing Co., Senn and Ackerman, the Phoenix Brewing Co., the Schaefer-Meyer Brewing Co., and the Nadorff Brewing Co., the Central Consumers Co. dominated the local beer market by owning many of the saloons, groceries and potential business corner lots in the city. Also known as “tied houses,” breweries that owned saloons and groceries restricted the sale of only their brands of beer, thereby making it very difficult for smaller breweries to market their beverages. This virtual monopoly of the Louisville lager industry by the Central Consumers Co. lead a number of local saloon and grocery store owners to form Falls City Brewing Company in 1905. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, state regulations around the country prohibited breweries from owning saloons and taverns.

According to the deed record for the April 1909 purchase of many of the properties included in the Louisville Storefronts & Saloons Album, the Central Consumers Co. was indebted to the Columbia Trust Co. for mortgages it took out in 1901, presumably to purchase multiple grocery and saloon properties around the city. To pay the debts for these mortgages, many properties were sold to the Metropolitan Realty Company in April 1909. The majority of the information pages in the album show dates in April of 1909, so it can be assumed that these properties were included the property transaction that appears in Deed book 700, page 28. There are a handful of other properties in the album that list dates in 1910, 1911, and 1912, with the sellers being noted as individuals rather than the Columbia Trust Co. or Central Consumers Co. Because of this, it is understood that the album was assembled during or after 1912, but it is unknown exactly when the photographs were taken.

The Louisville Storefronts & Saloons Album was donated to the University of Louisville Photographic Archives by Judy Werst on behalf of Patsy & Buz Unclebach in 2009. All of the photographs in the collection are gelatin silver prints mounted to fabric pages, with some exhibiting deterioration from probable water damage. The pages have been disassembled from the album and placed in an acid-free archival box for preservation purposes. All of the 114 photographs in the album are included in the digital collection, and those with accompanying information and survey pages appear as compound objects.

Conditions of Use

The University of Louisville welcomes fair use of this website and its contents. If you wish to publish, broadcast, or publicly display these materials, please notify Archives and Special Collections. In addition, it is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions, which may include paying fees for commercial use. For further information about permissions, use, and ordering reproductions, see Order Reproductions, or contact Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville.

To cite an image from this collection, please use the appropriate format:

[Image Number], Louisville Storefronts & Saloons Album, Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

To cite the digital version, add its Reference URL (found by following the link in the header above the digital file).


The contents of this collection were scanned by Elizabeth Reilly and Alex Clifton in 2011. The photographs were scanned on an Epson Expression 10000 XL as 600 ppi TIFF images in 8-bit grayscale sized at 10 inches on the long side, and the information and survey pages were scanned as 150 ppi TIFF images. Each of the images was cleaned-up and levels adjusted in Photoshop for optimal viewing of detail. Review of the album was conducted by Tom Owen and further research into deeds and companies by Elizabeth Reilly. Cataloging was performed by Alex Clifton and HTML pages designed by Terri Holtze. Rachel I. Howard converted the TIFFs into JPEG2000 files upon uploading them into CONTENTdm version 6.1.3.


Columbia Trust Company and Central Consumers Company to Metropolitan Realty Company, Deed of Sale, 24 April 1909, Jefferson County, Kentucky, Deed Book 700, page 28-30. Louisville Metro Archives, Louisville, Kentucky.

Crawford, Matt. Crawford, Matt. Preliminary Summary of Information submitted to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in October 2010: Chicago Brewery-Tied Houses. (accessed October 11, 2017).

Falls City Beer. (accessed October 11, 2017).

Guetig, Peter R. and Conrad D. Selle. Louisville Breweries: A History of the Brewing Industry in Louisville, Kentucky; New Albany and Jeffersonville, Indiana. [n.p.] Mark Skaggs Press, 1997.

Kleber, John E., editor in chief. The Encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2001.

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