Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DeHart Paint and Varnish Co.

This old paint factory at 900 E. Main, right along the line where Butchertown starts to become Downtown Louisville, was built in 1880 and is sitting totally empty. At one time there had been big plans for $250,000 condos here but apparently the economy's kiboshed that project, because the realtor's signs are back up on the property now.

I remember the artist Bill Fischer telling me that Jackson Pollock had ordered a pallet-load of specially-formulated paint from a Louisville paint factory just before he died, and that Bill was only too happy to take the stuff off their hands. I'm wondering if this is the paint factory in question, because I was watching the documentary Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? the other day on Sundance, and noticed some DeHart paint cans in footage of his studio.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Autobahn Motors

Formerly located at the corner of Spring and Mellwood (you can still see them open on Google Maps Street View).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rayluma Gallery

Their website is still up, but this art-glass gallery is long gone. Google Maps Street View shows the building empty last year, back when Magnolia Belles was operating next door (it's Friends Lapidary and Jewelers now).

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I knew as soon as this place opened that it probably wouldn't last - there's just too many other white-tablecloth upright-folded-napkin nicey-nicey upscale places in the Clifton/Crescent Hill area, and this one just didn't seem to have anything to set it apart from the rest of the pack. The empty storefront at 2206 Frankfort Avenue quietly awaits another entrepreneur to risk all, so that others may eat.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Corner Dog Food Store

I dunno what's up with this one. A building with two different storefronts, both of which are now empty, and both of which are actually sort-of connected inside. I forget now what was here before, but after they left, a sign reading "The Corner Dog Food Store" appeared. But this theoretical dog food store is almost completely empty and I've never seen it open, except once I caught the landlord/owner puttering around in there.

I inquired about what it cost to rent the space but instead he gave me a looooong convoluted speech about unfair city zoning laws, flaky tenants he has known, minutiae of the circus-poster collecting subculture, and of course, dog food. And it was peppered with those annoying kind of leading questions that should be rhetorical but weren't: "And you know what happened next?" "Can you guess what that scoundrel told me then?" "Do you know what the single most important thing to remember is for a small business?", and so forth. (And of course, acknowledgement was expected for each question.)

I never did find out what he was asking for the place.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Always admired this empty building at 947 Franklin Street in Butchertown. Was once Berley's plumbing company.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Home Skate Shop

After I snapped this pic of Home Skate Shop's old empty location on Bardstown Road, I then realized that they now occupy the building right next door. Guess the rent must have been seriously cheaper.

Club Premier

I never went there, but I always loved the eye-poppingly orange diamond-patterned facade of Club Premier on Story Avenue in beautiful Butchertown. Prior to this, it had a good run as lesbian bar called The Alternative. Originally, this was the historic Do Drop Inn way back in the day.

What will go here next, amid the grimy industrial edifices and the rotten odor of burning snouts and hooves wafting from the friendly neighborhood Swift plant? We shall see. Maybe I'll finally open my long-projected Voraxium house of sequined subversion here and put on our own hillbilly-flavored Grand Guignol shows.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jarfi's Bistro

Poor Jarfi's. First they left a cushy gig at the Kentucky Center, then they moved into the former Lentini's Little Italy spot on Bardstown Road, where it's reported by Louisville Hot Bytes that they were spending $10,000 a month on rent. Think on that. Ten Grand a month for an upscale bistro to hawk carpaccio and vichyssoise to Highland hipsters, in a sinking economy just an anchovy-hair away from Weimar-itude. What is past is prologue.

(Did I say "poor Jarfi's"? Well, don't shed a tear, friends, they're actually marshaling their forces for yet another reinvention that promises to be their best ever: Jarfi's Diner opens in September on the first and tenth floors of the newly-completed Zirmed Towers on 9th and Market. I'll be there on their opening night - come join me, won't you?)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hollywood Video, Highlands

Another dead soldier in the fight against the end of all media - Hollywood Video at 2470 Bardstown Road. Google Maps Street View still shows it livin' and breathin':

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Skyline Chili, Downtown

I've always loved the Brooklyn-esque quality of the corner of 4th and Market, and having a greasy joint like Skyline Chili on hand always helped that mystique. Here's hoping something else with the proper mythic resonance moves in quick, and not something lame.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

J. Gumbo's, Highlands

There are several J. Gumbo's locations - I've eaten at this one, plus the Summit Plaza, Lyndon, and Frankfort Avenue ones and loved them all.

Last week, my theatre company had intended to have our weekly Thursday meeting here, but I was stunned to roll up and find it gone, finis, kaput. I hope the other ones survive - the Drunken Chicken Po-Boy here is grrrrrreat.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Louisville Antique Mall

After 24 years on Goss Avenue, the Louisville Antique Mall closed its doors and was reborn at 834 E. Broadway in January 2008. And now, in the words of Neil Diamond, "that died too". According to

The Louisville Antique Mall will close at the end of June.

Owner Denise Golden told dealers at the mall of the closure at a meeting Monday night.

“The antique business has been hit especially hard during this economic recession,” Golden said in a news release. “Antiques are not essential purchases, and although traffic has been good through the mall, people just aren’t spending as much.”

I don't really get what Golden is really saying here. I can tell you, as someone who's been in the antique-mall biz for most of my life, it makes no difference whether traffic is good or bad or whether anyone is buying anything at all. An antique mall makes its money on the blind naive optimism of the dealers who pay rent for their booth there. Period.

If the people who paid rent on antique-mall and flea-market booths just stepped back and looked realistically at what they were doing and did the math, all such places would shut down overnight. You can't pay $75-$150 a month on a booth, keep it filled with items, and expect to make any profit. Next time you're in such a place, look at people's booths and add up how much they'd make if they sold EVERY SINGLE ITEM in their booth - sometimes the total doesn't even add up to a month's booth rental.

And yet, people do it, again and again, month after month, year after year. Why? I don't know. I think people just like the idea of it, even though they're flushing money down the toilet and have been operating on a loss ever since their first month. Especially the elderly, who just want to "keep busy" and don't bother to consider that there are far better ways to do so than paying over a thousand bucks a year to display worthless junk. Like whipped 1980's vinyl records whose book-value is near worthless even in mint condition. Or baby clothes that couldn't be given away for nickels and dimes at a yard sale. Or items that are technically "antique" but whose value has plummeted in the post-eBay economy, like McCoy pottery or Depression Glass. Or - most common in larger antique malls - furniture of dubious origin, some of which once might have been valuable before someone "restored" them with sandpaper, Old English stain, cheapo varnish, and crudely executed store-bought decorative stencils.

If it sounds like I'm down on the antique-mall business, I am. Take it from someone who used to run one - like a casino, only the house makes money. If you have something to sell, you're better off just going to straight to eBay with it and letting the world market determine whether it wants it or not.

I used to love browsing all the dusty old stuff here, but it was in the same spirit as when I would browse a museum. That is, I rarely ever bought anything here, except when I managed to beat the other vultures to an item whose booth-vendor had mispriced and/or didn't know the value of what they had.

Finally, I'm not sure what all this means for the Colonnade, which had operated for nearly 100 years on South 4th Street before moving into the fifth floor of the Louisville Antique Mall.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Good Feet Store

Another departed business in Middletown. Never understood how a place can stay in business just selling arch-support inserts for shoes. (Evidently, they can't.)

But hey, if you wanna take over the local franchise, this coveted territory could be yours!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

107-109 W. Main

Built in 1905, this was originally the J.T.S. Brown & Sons building. Brown & Sons were a whiskey company that eventually transmogrified into the Brown-Forman company we know and love today.

The building was designed by Dennis Xavier Murphy, who also designed Waverly Hills Sanitarium.

After prohibition shut down the Browns, there was a grocer here and then a coffee company, and then the place has sat dead since 1960, amazingly. It's one of the most strikingly beautiful facades on the block, with yellowy-golden trim that still looks shiny and shimmery today.

Supposedly this whole block is to get a facelift and a new lease (no pun intended) on life with fancy loft condos, but that's something that's been yapped about endlessly and never seems to happen. We continue to wait and hope.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

1912 W. Broadway

I don't know what this 1960s-looking place used to be, but I like it. Kind of has an institutional feel.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pennzoil Car Wash

Right next door to Candyjacks. Originally was going to post this as "The Nameless Car Wash", but a check of Google Maps Street View revealed it to have been a Pennzoil production.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Candyjacks Antiques and Collectibles was run from this residential home at 703 Lyndon Lane. Never went in here, but always passed it on my way to Choi's Asian Market and wondered what dusty goodness transpired within its walls.

"Candyjacks" seems like a wacky name for an antique store. I always wondered if this place had been a candy store prior, and they just took over the name and recycled the sign since it was there.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Schoolhouse Preschool & Daycare

I guess Schoolhouse Preschool & Daycare was originally here at 3020 Hunsinger Lane, then moved across the street? You can sort-of see their new location in the reflection of the glass in this photo.

This place has sat empty for a long time now. (Probably still smells like a daycare center inside. Ugh.)