The Original Highlands Neighborhood Association (OHNA) is a 501c4 non-profit organization established in 1975 that represents the Original Highlands neighborhood in Louisville, KY. Our intention is to unite property owners, tenants, neighborhood business, and others that have an interest in the Original Highlands neighborhood. We encourage and support civic improvements and betterments within our unique neighborhood that will maintain and enhance our neighborhood’s traditions, character and diversity. We promote and support neighborhood activities and interests of an educational, cultural, or civic nature. We also cooperate with other organizations and persons having similar objectives. On behalf of the neighborhood, we work towards securing the aid and assistance of news media, local, state, and federal government agencies and other institutions in carrying out the vision for the neighborhood.

Original Highlands, formally known as just the Highlands, is a vibrant neighborhood serving as the gateway between downtown and what is now known as the larger Highlands area, which includes the Original Highlands, Cherokee Triangle, Tyler Park, Bonnycastle Homestead, Highlands-Douglass, Deer Park, Belknap, Irish Hill, part of Phoenix Hill, and the Upper Highland neighborhoods . A diverse array of sizes and styles of historic homes, primarily from the Victorian Era, as well as modern and historic multi-family residences give the Original Highlands a unique and charming ambiance. Numerous restaurants and nightlife venues along Bardstown Road, Baxter Avenue, and Barret Avenue cater to residents and visitors from all over Louisville.

Land originally surveyed in 1774, the “Briar Patch” plantation was established in 1814. 1819 construction of the Louisville and Bardstown Turnpike (Bardstown Rd) attracted German immigrant farmers. Before the American Civil War, Bardstown Road was known as New Hamburg and growth was slow until 1869. It was then that Susan Preston Christy (for whom Christy Avenue is named) developed a neighborhood between Hepburn, Barrett and Baxter Avenues and added horse drawn streetcars. As the land was sold off and divided, more subdivisions were developed, eventually evolving into the Highlands of today.

After the Civil War the land was subdivided. Horse-drawn streetcar line was extended from the city to Highland Avenue in 1871. Much of the land was subdivided and developed between 1891 and 1896. Houses were constructed after 1860 but primarily from 1884 to 1895. Buildings from before 1884 were located mostly along Breckinridge (formerly Howard), Christy, Baxter and Barret.

Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue facing south 1929
Bardstown Road at Highland Avenue facing north 1935

The area was called the Highlands because it sits on a ridge between the middle and south forks of Beargrass Creek, above the Ohio River flood plain. Today eight other neighborhoods in the area on the same ridge are also collectively called The Highlands.

Though the Original Highlands is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Louisville, it was the last area near Downtown Louisville to be urbanized. Bardstown Road was a haven for the wealthy until around 1960, when most of the neighborhood’s original residents left for the suburbs. Businesses along the street closed their doors, and homes were abandoned and destroyed. However, in the 1980s, the area began to thrive again as local oddity shops and restaurants started moving in. By the 1990s, the Original Highlands was well on its way to becoming what it is today–the city’s main nightlife and upscale restaurant district.

Highland Avenue and Edward Avenue facing northeast
Victorian home typical of the neighborhood
“The Turrets” sculpture on Highland Island
at Baxter Avenue and Winter Avenue.
Sculpture designer: Ewing Fahey; 
Landscape architect: Susan Rademacher, and
Construction project manager: Mohammad B. Nouri