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KENTUCKY - A GUIDE TO THE BLUEGRASS STATE - 1939

COVINGTON

Railroad Station: Union Depot, Pike and Russell Sts., for Louisville & Nashville R.R., and Chesapeake & Ohio Ry.

Bus Station: 6th St. between Scott Blvd. and Madison Ave., for Greyhound, Fleenor, and Blue Ribbon Lines.

Airport: Lunken Field, (5.5 m., via Cincinnati on US 50 (River Road), for American Air Lines.

Taxis: 15# and upward according to distance and number of passengers.

Toll Bridges: Suspension, N. end of Court Ave., passenger autos 10cents and 15 cents , pedestrians free; Covington-Newport, E. end of 4th St., passenger autos 10cents and 15tf, pedestrians 2#.

Traffic Regulations: Right turn on red light only at intersection of Starrett St. and Madison Ave. Watch signs for parking limitations.

Accommodations: Nearest hotels in Cincinnati; private homes cater to tourists. Information Service: Chamber of Commerce, SW. corner Pike St. and Madison Ave.; Kentucky Motor Club, 417 Scott St.

Radio Station: WCKY (1490 kc.).

Motion Picture Houses: Seven.

Swimming: Rosedale Park, entrance Carroll St., near 45th St.; Y.M.C.A., Pike St. and Madison Ave.

Golf: Devou Park, entrance on Western Ave. between 6th and 7th Sts., 9 holes, greens fee 50 cents , 75 cents and $1; Twin Oaks Country Club, E. end of Baltimore St., 18 holes, greens fee 75 cents and $1.

Tennis: Dixie Court, Madison Ave. and 2d St., 20tf per hour; Goebel Park, 5th and Philadelphia Sts., free; South Covington Court, W. end of 45th St., SOtf per day.

Riding: Sunny Side Riding Club, Park Hills, 75 cents and $1 per hour; Pleasure Isle, $1 per hour.

Racing: Latcnia Race Track, S. and Latonia Ave. car line; spring and fall meetings (pari-mutuel betting). See local papers for schedules.

Annual Events: Egg Fight, Easter Sunday, Devou Park.

COVINGTON (513 alt., 65,252 pop.), second largest city in Kentucky, lies on a flood plain of the Ohio River at the foot of suburban hills that reach back to a high plain of the Bluegrass. Highways from Louisville and the hills of central Kentucky sweep rather suddenly into position for a fine view of the city. To the east the Licking River separates old Covington residences from Newport; to the west the Ohio River bends away past scattered suburbs and the long Cincinnati waterfront; and to the north most of Covington's business houses, factories, churches, parks, and homes are clustered against a magnificent backdrop, where five bridges cross the Ohio to Cincinnati on the opposite side of the river.

In this setting Covington looks like a city on the Rhine. The impression is heightened by the spires of many churches Covington has more than threescore that taper up from among compact business and factory buildings and the plain brick structures put up by German immigrants of the mid-nineteenth century. Though the Germans have stamped the pattern of the city indelibly, other influences have been almost equally strong. The early settlers came mainly from the South, and they brought slaves and plantation culture with them. They built the walled- and fenced-in homes lining the streets that criss-cross the angle formed by the intersection of the Licking with the Ohio. When the Negroes were freed, they went to live in what were then the outskirts of the city, farther up the Licking and beneath the bluffs toward which the industrial areas were expanding. The neglected homes of the Negroes in Covington are small, but the Negro's contribution to the city, especially in the way of education, is large. Through the good work of their public and parochial schools, Covington's Negroes have reduced the more than 90 percent illiteracy of the 1860's to almost zero. In 1930 only 501 Covington residents (and many of these white) were illiterate.

Covington does not have skyscrapers, huge photoplay palaces, gigantic department stores, or bulky hotels, because it has geared its economic and social life to that of Cincinnati, only a bridge toll away. Each weekday morning Covington empties motorcars and little green trolleys full of people into Cincinnati; each weekday afternoon Cincinnati sends the steady, noisy stream of traffic back to Covington. In the evening Covingtonians generally relax in their homes or recross the river for entertainment, while their city plays host to many Cincinnatians who find Kentucky less restricting than Ohio.

On St. Valentine's Day in 1780, George Muse, a soldier of Virginia in the French and Indian War, swapped for a keg of whisky his scrip for 200 acres of land allotted him for military service. The new owner of the land traded it for a quarter of buffalo that Gen. James Taylor offered him. Taylor dickered it off to Col. Stephen Trigg, who got rid of it to John Todd, Jr., who unloaded it onto James Welch. Welch kept the land long enough to get it surveyed, and in 1801 sold it to Thomas Kennedy for $750. Kennedy erected a huge stone house overlooking the Licking near what is now the approach to the Suspension Bridge, and lived there as a tavern-keeper and ferry-man until 1814. Then he sold 150 acres of his property to John S. Gano, Richard M. Gano, and Thomas Carneal. In the following year, the three men chartered a town and named it for Gen. Leonard Covington of Maryland, a hero of the War of 1812 who died of wounds received during the Battle of Chrystler's Field.

Covington's growth was negligible during the years of national depression following 1819, but in 1830, with a population of only 715, the town had a log church, several inns, and a schoolhouse which was also a meeting place for a light infantry troop, the town trustees, and the Social Polemic Society. A few streets were paved; those running east and west were numbered, those north and south were named for notables. The town also had a fire brigade, a steam ferry, and the store of Benjamin J. Leathers, who issued so much scrip in hard times that "paid in Leathers" became Covington argot. Beginning with the 1830's, as settlers headed West over Kentucky land routes and the Ohio River, Covington became a trade center for livestock, grain, and other products of the countryside. An influx of people from over the Appalachians (principally Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia) was succeeded by the large German immigration of 1840-1860.

By 1847 there were two leading educational institutions in Covington the Western Baptist Theological College and Dr. Orr's Female Seminary. The seminary stressed good manners and deportment. One teacher, a Miss Robb, dismissed her class one by one, and exacted from each girl a Victorian curtsy the spreading of the skirt and making a low bow, not one of the "silly bobs" as of later days.

In the 1850's the Kentucky Central Railroad was begun from Covington to Lexington, a high school opened, the seat of a Roman Catholic bishopric established, a local Turnverein organized, and gas first used for lighting. In 1860 the first hospital, St. Elizabeth's, was established. Covington people made furniture, farm tools, rope, and cloth, and brewed beer, packed meat, and participated in the growing river commerce.

Covington commuted to Cincinnati by ferry. But service was interrupted during flood times, and it sometimes took a whole day to make a business trip to Cincinnati and back. The State of Kentucky had already bought the macadamized highway coming up from Lexington over an old Indian trail. Elimination of road tolls drew Covington and interior Kentucky together, but the city was more closely associated with its big neighbor to the north, and it needed better means of getting across the Ohio. In 1846 the State legislature authorized the building of a bridge over to Cincinnati, but work on the structure was postponed periodically. When actual construction finally began, along came the panic of 1857, followed by the War between the States four years later, and work was stopped.

Although Kentucky wanted to be neutral in the war, neutrality was impossible. The State became a battleground, and Covington an armed camp, half its citizens Northern, half Southern, in sympathy and enlistment. Actual warfare, however, came only as close to Covington as Morgan's and Kirby Smith's raids in north-central Kentucky. One threatened raid, however, had beneficial after-effects. When a detachment of Kirby Smith's men was detailed to terrorize the Cincinnati region, Gen. Lew Wallace declared martial law in Cincinnati, Newport, and Covington, and laid a pontoon of coal barges across the Ohio so Cincinnati troops could hurry over to Covington and help build earthworks on the southern border of the town. The Confederates skirmished with a few pickets, and then withdrew.

The pontoon bridge, however, had proved its value. After the War, work on the Suspension Bridge was resumed, and this solid symbol of commercial and political union between North and South was completed in 1866. During the years that followed, new industries, such as brewing, yeast making, and distilling were established and old ones, such as the manufacture of tobacco products, were enlarged. Real estate boomed phenomenally. In 1870, although the taxable value of the city's property was 700 percent greater than it had been 30 years before, suburbs were laid out rapidly and many newcomers settled in new homes. All this growth was stunted, however, by the panic of 1873.

Covington aroused itself quickly following the panic years. By the end of the decade the present Federal Building was completed. During the next few years the Maysville and Big Sandy Railroad came through from Ashland, and in 1888 a bridge was built across the Ohio River. In 1899 the. city waterworks (in Fort Thomas) was completed. In the 1890's the chamber of commerce was organized; an electric power and light plant built; and the streetcar system, acquired by Cleveland capitalists, fitted with single-trolley electric cars.

During this long middle period, characterized industrially by the establishment of "one man" shops, the genius of Covington flowered. John G. Carlisle and William Goebel grew to national stature politically; Archbishop Maes inaugurated the construction of huge St. Mary's Cathedral; and Frank Duveneck painted murals in Covington homes. When the twentieth century arrived, Dan Beard, raised in Covington on the banks of the Licking, began his program of young character building by helping to found the Boy Scouts of America.

As the Nation emerged from the depression-ridden 1890's, Covington industry expanded. The "one man" businesses grew into small but substantial industrial concerns. The outstanding Covington example of this change is the firm that supplies X-ray equipment to hospitals and to private manufacturing industries. Another company that grew up within the last 40 years, makes the machinery that wraps razor blades and other goods into small packages. Still another builds cell blocks for prisons. Many more produce specialties such as signs, ornamental fences, locks and safes, and a host of other things not subject to mass production. In addition, several packing houses, milling establishments, distilleries and breweries, brick and tile works, tobacco warehouses, and rope-making plants are in the city.

From time to time the Ohio and the Licking Rivers have overrun their banks and pillaged Covington. The flood of 1832 taught a lesson that was not well learned, for the floods of 1883 and 1884 brought great ruin and that of January 1937 was even worse. Twothirds of the business section was submerged. Lights and power were shut off, transportation was at a standstill, and schools were closed. Hospitals were badly damaged, but their staffs worked on heroically. Property loss ran into the millions. By summer of 1937, however, debris had been cleared away and buildings repaired, and the city was back to normal. Immediate help was given by the American Red Cross, and Covington citizens quickly rehabilitated their homes and business places.

POINTS OF INTEREST

1. SUSPENSION BRIDGE (tolls 10$ and 15 cents ; pedestrians 2$) across the Ohio River, N. end of Court Ave., connects Covington with Cincinnati. Designed and built by John A. Roebling of New York, and completed at a cost of $1,871,000 in 1866, this is the first of America's great suspension bridges. It is 36 feet wide and 2,252 feet long, and its towers are 100 feet high.

2. GEORGE ROGERS CLARK MEMORIAL PARK, Garrard St. and Riverside Drive, is a small square of landscaped ground on the Ohio River bank, from which the Cincinnati waterfront seems but a stone's throw away. Near the alleyway that runs behind the park is the SITE OF THE THOMAS KENNEDY HOUSE, marked by a boulder and inscribed plaque. Kennedy operated a ferry across the river and was a congenial host in the stone tavern, called Kennedy's Ferry, which he erected here in 1801.

3. The CARNEAL HOUSE, now the ROTHIER HOME (private), 405 E. 2nd St., was built in 1815 by Thomas D. Carneal, of Covington and Ludlow. The two-story mansion, set above the street level, is designed in the late Georgian Colonial manner, with such Italian Renaissance detail as the loggias that break the wide front of the structure on the first and second stories. The main doorway is a fine example of the Georgian Colonial style, but the door itself is of a later date. Tradition says that Carneal aided Negroes to escape by giving them asylum in his home and helping them to cross the Ohio into free territory. Eliza, heroine of Uncle Tom's Cabin, is said to have been aided in this way.

4. DAN CARTER BEARD BOYHOOD HOME (private), 322 E. 3rd St., a comfortable two-story brick residence dating from the midnineteenth century, bears a plaque on the side facing Licking River stating that here lived, in his boyhood, the founder of the Boy Scouts of America. As a boy Beard (b. 1850) consorted with the soldiers at Newport Barracks. Later he became well acquainted with stories and legends of Kentucky pioneer life, and formed a band called the Sons of Daniel Boone. The youngsters took oath and named themselves for Boone, Kenton, and other noted pioneers. They became adept at making dugout canoes, brush shelters, and other woodcraft necessities. When Sir Robert Baden-Powell formed the Boy Scouts of England in 1908, he made use of Beard's plan of organization. In 1910, when the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated, Beard merged the Sons of Daniel Boone with the Boy Scouts. Today (1939) the American branch of the world-wide organization, of which Beard is still an active member, has an enrollment of about a million and a half.

5. The JOHN W. STEVENSON HOME (private), 318-320 Garrard St., built about 1820, is a two-story brick structure fronted by a portico of white fluted columns. The large windows have the original mullioned panes. The house is connected by a large brick tunnel with a private home at Seventh and Garrard Streets. According to local tradition, a second tunnel once ran from a mansion on Second Street up along the river bank into the backyard of the Stevenson home. Beneath the house and in the yard are huge subterranean cellars, with thick brick walls, said to have been used for concealing slaves during the War between the States. Stevenson was Governor of Kentucky from 1867 to 1871.

6. The CLAYTON HOUSE (private), 528 Greenup St., a storyand- a-half white frame structure built of ship's timbers, was put up in 1839 by John W. Clayton, and is now the residence of his granddaughter. During the War between the States it housed a private school, kept by Clayton's daughter, among whose pupils was Frederick D. Grant, son of Gen. U. S. Grant.

7. The BAKER HUNT FOUNDATION and the WILLIAMS' NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM (open 1-3 weekdays, 1-6 Sun.), 620 Greenup St., are housed in simple brick buildings adapted to educational work. The dual organization is the result of two gifts to the city of Covington. Margaretta W. Hunt provided in her will for the establishment of the foundation (1931), and Archie J. Williams gave the rare insects he collected in the course of wide travels and research. The foundation offers after-school classes in the arts and crafts for adults and children.

The Natural History Museum, which includes the Williams' collection and later accessions, has about 200,000 insect specimens and more than 5,000 natural history volumes, including what is said to be the largest collection of books on insects. Kentucky plant and animal life is particularly well represented.

8. COVINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY (open 9-9 weekdays), SE. corner Robbins St. and Scott Blvd., established through an act of the Kentucky legislature in 1898, was inadequately housed in a room on Seventh Street until a gift by Andrew Carnegie made possible the present two-story concrete building (1901). The library has about 50,000 volumes for adults and 15,000 for children, and a great deal of miscellaneous Kentuckiana. In the building is an auditorium seating 750 persons.

9. ST. MARY'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL, Madison Ave. between llth and 12th Sts., is the seat of the Diocese of Covington. The plan of the nave, transept, and apse, designed by Leon Coquard, begun in 1895 and finished in 1900, follows that of the Abbey of St. Denis, France; while the fagade, designed by David Davis in 1908 and completed two years later, is patterned after that of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The bas-relief above the main portal is Clement J. Barnhorn's portrayal of the Ascension of the Blessed Virgin. The two front towers (now 128 feet high, eventually to be 180) are surmounted by gargoyles.

Within the massive hand-tooled doors tall graceful columns line the aisles. Among the high windows of the nave and apse, that in the north wall, 24 by 67 feet, depicts the Coronation of the Virgin, the Council of Ephesus, and the Fathers of the Church, in stained and leaded glass.

The mosaics on the Stations of the Cross are the work of Italian artisans. The pulpit, altar, and other wooden fixtures were handtooled by Swiss craftsmen. In the right end of the transept is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, on the walls of which are three frescoes by Frank Duveneck, Covington-born artist. Divided into three parts like the medieval triptych, these frescoes have as their central theme Christ's sacrifice on Calvary, and on either side are shown priests of the Old and the New Law.

10. The FRANK DUVENECK BIRTHPLACE (private), 1226 Greenup St., is a simple frame house marked by a plaque. Duveneck (1848-1919) worked for several local church decorators and later studied art in Munich. In 1875 he exhibited a group of sensational paintings in Boston, and became famous in this country overnight. After his wife died at Florence, Italy, in 1888, Duveneck came to Cincinnati to teach at the Art Academy, and became the dean of Ohio Valley artists. As teacher and exemplar, Duveneck was one of the pioneers of modern American art. He executed the murals in St. Mary's Cathedral as a gift in memory of his mother. Some of his paintings are on the walls of the State Historical Museum (Old Capitol) in Frankfort. The best collection is in the Cincinnati Art Museum, to which Duveneck donated a large group of his works in 1915.

11. LINDEN GROVE CEMETERY, Holman St. between 13th and 15th Sts., one of Covington's oldest burial grounds, contains graves of men who fought in the Revolution and in all wars of the United States. Toward the rear of the main driveway (R), a simple stone marks the GRAVE OF JOHN GRIFFIN CARLISLE, Secretary of the Treasury under Cleveland. Carlisle, who was born in Kenton County in 1835, distinguished himself as a lawyer, State legislator, Lieutenant Governor, Congressman, and Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1893 Cleveland selected him as a member of his cabinet, and his efforts to avert the panic of that year won him wide acclaim.

12. LATONIA RACE TRACK (gate open the year around), S. end Latonia Ave., opened in 1883 by the Latonia Agricultural Association, is one of the great running tracks of America, second in Kentucky only to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. The spring-summer racing season follows the May meet at Churchill Downs with a 31 -day schedule. A similar late fall schedule succeeds the autumn season at Churchill Downs. The Latonia Oaks, Latonia Cup, and Latonia Championship stakes are among the regular events, but the greatest attraction is the Latonia Derby, a mile-and-a-quarter event carrying an added purse of $15,000. Latonia has been dubbed "Death Valley" by some Kentucky "hard boots" (chronic backers of Kentucky horses) because they believe the best of horses are beaten here.

13. MOTHER OF GOD CEMETERY, 27th St. and Latonia Ave., is the resting place of many who have brought fame to Covington. The GRAVE OF FRANK DUVENECK, marked by a rose-colored granite tomb, is to the right of the driveway, near the center of the grounds.

14. MONTE CASINO (open all hours), off Highland Pike (entered over a twisting road), is a two-story gray brick building, constructed about 1850, on a farm owned and rented out by the Benedictine Fathers of St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa. The building was a family residence before the War between the States. The estate once contained a vineyard yielding grapes for the sacramental Benedictine and Red Rose wines produced by Brothers of the Order of St. Benedict. Wine making by the brothers and their hired help was begun soon after this property was bought, and continued until Prohibition in 1919. The brothers then returned to Latrobe.

About 1878 Brother Albert Soltis, for his private devotions, erected what is widely referred to as the TINIEST CHAPEL IN THE WORLD (accommodating only three persons), in front of the home atop the cliff. Except for the wood in the door, window casing, and sash, and the glass in the one small leaded window, it is entirely of native limestone. The interior is decorated with religious emblems.

15. DEVOU PARK, entrance Western Ave. between 6th and 7th Sts., donated to the city in 1910, is a 550-acre rolling wooded park that looks down from the Knobs directly upon Covington, Ludlow, and the Ohio River. Thirty miles of bridle path, athletic and picnic grounds, and a lake, public golf course, target range, and natural amphitheater are distributed among the hills and valleys. From LOOKOUT POINT Cincinnati's western and northern hills and its downtown office buildings appear above the smoke and fog that often hang over this populous section of the Ohio Valley.

16. GOEBEL PARK, SW. corner 5th and Philadelphia Sts., is a 14-acre civic recreation center purchased about 1906 from the late Gov. William Goebel. It has swimming pools, baseball and football grounds, and a shelter house. Band concerts, furnished by the city throughout the summer, are attended weekly by thousands.

17. KELLEY-KOETT MANUFACTURING PLANT (open by permission), 212 W. 4th St., is one of the world's largest producers of X-ray equipment. During the years when Roentgen was developing the X-ray, a Virginia boy, John Robert Kelley, was experimenting with methods for its use. He came to Covington and became acquainted with Albert B. Koett, who backed him financially. This partnership was the basis for a concern (1903) that supplies X-ray apparatus to industrial and clinical laboratories throughout the world.

18. KENTON TOBACCO WAREHOUSE (open during winter sales season, Dec.-Feb.), SW. corner 2nd St. and Scott Blvd., one of the largest loose-leaf tobacco warehouses in northern Kentucky, covers more than a city block. It is a typical one-story brick structure equipped to handle the tobacco that the growers haul here to be sold. Sales begin on or about the first of December and continue through February.

POINTS OF INTEREST IN ENVIRONS

Fort Thomas Military Reservation, 5 m. (see Tour 3).

This information was Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project
of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Kentucky - 1939

 



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