Beechmont thrives in south Louisville

Beechmont.jpgTurning back the pages of history on the Beechmont neighborhood, one can find the idyllic home to white- and blue-collar families, many depending on the good paying jobs at the nearby Naval Ordnance Station and the L&N Railroad yards.

Culled from the Courier Journal - See the original story in the Courier Journal 

“The grand dame of Louisville’s South End,” the area was a showplace of stately summer mansions, horseback rides on the bridle path and scenic Iroquois Park.

Today, Beechmont might be considered the handle of the melting pot in Louisville, home to thousands of refugees from around the world who’ve sought a new life in a safe country.

The confluence of cultures is most evident at Iroquois Manor Shopping Center, where the Peppermint Lounge and the Vietnam Kitchen sit comfortably side by side. Both are neighborhood institutions; the lounge opened in 1947 and the Kitchen in 1993.

Vietnam Kitchen owners Alex and Kim Lam arrived in Louisville in 1980. Alex Lam described the area as having only 500 to 600 Vietnamese in the area at the time.

“One of my favorite things to do here is to sit and watch the people,” she said.

“There’s an African coffee shop, a Cuban bakery, a Chinese restaurant and the Jerusalem cafe,” she said. “At any given time there could be seven different languages spoken in this bar. All these different people, and they’re just trying to survive. Sometimes I’m humbled by how little it takes to make people happy.”

Debbie Thompson, head of the neighborhood association, grew up in the area.

“My parents bought this home in 1959. If they could be transplanted back to the neighborhood today, they would be astounded because it has changed that much,” she said. “Beechmont is the best-kept secret, being centrally located within the old city limits. You can get around without the use of the interstates.”

Cindy Venture, an entrepreneur and owner Beechmont Bombshells Salon on Woodlawn Avenue, sees the area as the next hot location in Louisville.

“Young people are moving here. You can get a bang for your buck when buying a home — just like Germantown was, but it’s no longer affordable. It just takes someone who isn’t afraid of the words ‘South End,’” she said.

Culled from the Courier Journal - See the original story in the Courier Journal 

Information from “A Place in Time” by The Courier-Journal was incorporated into this story. Pat McDonogh can be contacted at (502) 582-4608.


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