Like many cities in the region, Ludlow, Kentucky was once a part of a governmental land grant. In 1790, Colonel Thomas Sandford was given a grant to this land in recognition of his service during the Revolutionary War. Sandford later traded the land to Thomas D. Carneal, one of the founders of Covington, Kentucky, for land in what is now nearby Ft. Mitchell.
Carneal sold the land to William Bullock, a British showman, entrepreneur, and traveler. In 1827 Bullock commissioned John Papworth, a prolific architect, artist and a founding member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, to design a utopian community to be named Hygeia (Greek for “health”). Papworth, was to plan the layout, and design various classes of buildings for the new city. Bullock published the plans, hoping to attract purchasers for the plots, but the scheme came to nothing. In 1830, Bullock sold the land to Israel L. Ludlow, the son of Colonel Israel Ludlow, a government surveyor who helped found Cincinnati, Dayton and Hamilton in southwest Ohio.
The original land was platted as a town in 1846, and stretched from Carneal Street to Traverse Street, with the river as the northern boundary. Over the next 25 years, the town expanded westward, with the establishment of several new subdivisions.
When the city of Ludlow, Kentucky was founded in 1864 an estimated 300 residents occupied homes in the oldest portions of the town. With the arrival of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad in the 1870s, the city soon changed from a rural area into a working class suburb. Many new residents, especially German and Irish immigrants, were attracted to Ludlow by the ample supply of railroad jobs. This frequent and dependable railroad service also attracted many other new businesses to the community.
As the population of the city increased, new subdivisions were developed. Among these were Woodland Park and Ludlow’s Second Addition. Several hundred new homes were constructed in these areas, many in the Victorian Style. Many later neighborhoods were established after the first World War, notably those in the western portion of the city. By 1930, Ludlow had acquired boundaries much like those of the present incorporation limits.
The Central Ludlow Historic District contains the richest and most cohesive concentration of historic buildings in the city. It is located in the center of town, and encompasses portions of several early neighborhoods, plotted between 1846 and 1890. The Central Ludlow Historic District includes 367 buildings. The district boundary was chosen to enclose the most cohesive section of Ludlow’s history, c. 1860-1915.
The majority of the buildings within the district were constructed between 1870-1900. There are some earlier examples, notably Elmwood Hall, built in 1818, and Somerset Hall, built in 1832. In addition, there are a sizeable number of early 20th century buildings, primarily from 1900-1915, such as those found on Elm Street, east of Adela.
Within the district are primarily residential homes which are an even distribution of brick and frame construction, and almost always on a stone foundation. Most of the commercial buildings are located within the central business district on Elm Street, between Kenner and Carneal. Five churches, two with adjacent school buildings, are also situated within the boundaries of the historic district.
photo: Central District, http://www.nkyviews.com/kenton/kenton546.htm