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History of Whiskey Row

The stretch of Renaissance Revival buildings located on Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky is locally known as Whiskey Row. From 1850 through Prohibition, Whiskey Row became the trading center for all spirits distilled in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia. Whiskey from upriver was warehoused and blended with Kentucky whiskey on its way downriver to New Orleans and overland to the West. Whiskey Row Bourbon is a blend of small batch barrels that mirrors many of those early recipes so that you may enjoy the same flavors that our ancestors enjoyed during the foundation and westward expansion of our nation.


Whiskey Row, also known as the Iron Quarter, refers to a block-long stretch from 101–133 W. Main Street that once served as home to the bourbon industry in Louisville, Kentucky. The collection of Revivalist and Chicago School-style buildings with cast-iron storefronts were built between 1852 and 1905. On a list of Louisville Most Endangered Historic Places, the buildings were slated for demolition in 2011,[1] but an agreement between the city, local developers, and preservationists saved Whiskey Row.

105 West Main Street
Built in 1877, this building, designed by Henry Whitestone, originally housed W.H. Thomas and Son, a wholesale whiskey dealership, until 1895, when it was taken over by J.T.S. Brown & Sons, a predecessor to Brown-Foreman Corp. Brown stayed there until 1905, when it moved into a new building next door. 105 W. Main held various other whiskey merchants until the mid-1940s. In the 1950s it contained contracting, accounting and paper manufacturing businesses, and then a coin dealership and a variety of nightclubs. Whitestone also designed the Peterson-Dumesnil House in Crescent Hill.

107-109 West Main Street
Built in 1905, 107-109 W. Main was designed by Dennis Xavier Murphy for J.T.S. Brown & Sons, who stayed there until prohibition, when it was forced to suspend business. The building was later occupied by wholesale grocery company Bolinger-Babbage Co., and Englehard & Sons, coffee roasters. Other buildings designed by Murphy include Churchill Downs and Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

111 West Main Street
Built in 1871, this building first contained a pork-packing company, provision brokers, and a woolen mill. It was later converted into a warehouse for Bacon’s Department Store along with 113-115 W. Main. 111 W. Main was designed by architect Henry Whitestone.

113-115 West Main Street
Built in 1857, 113-115 W. Main housed the main offices and salesrooms for Belknap Hardware and Manufacturing Co. (at one time the nation’s largest hardware company), from 1881 to 1924, when it was converted into a warehouse for Bacon’s Department Store. This building, along with 117 and 119 W. Main, was constructed to replace a group of buildings that burned in 1857.

117 West Main Street
Built in 1857, 117 W. Main held pork dealers and provision brokers until the mid-1870s, when distilleries moved in and operated there well into the 20th century.

119 West Main Street
Built in 1860, this building originally contained pork dealers, provision brokers, and a farm supply store. In 1895 the building was purchased by Whiskey dealer S. Grabfelder and Co.

Other buildings on the site housed various businesses such as distilleries, wholesalers, and other whiskey-related businesses. From the 1850s to the 1920s, the block was a bustling business district and was Louisville’s primary location for the buying, selling, and trading of goods (especially whiskey). The block now contains 11 buildings in total (101-103 W. Main collapsed in 2001), and features some of Louisville’s finest examples of Renaissance Revival, Beaux Arts, and Chicago-style architecture.

(Source: - A short history of Whiskey Row (Iron Quarter) May 4, 2010)

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