Community History – Covington – Main Strasse Village

West End
Main Strasse Village

Main Strasse was developed in the 1970s as a restored 19th Century German village. The village centered on the corner of 6th and Main Streets and originally encompassed five city blocks. Main Strasse contained a large carillon, entertainment facilities, restaurants, and numerous shops and other business establishments.

The beginnings of Main Strasse Village can be traced back to the mid-1970s. At this time, the City of Covington compiled a plan for the revitalization of the west end. A major component of this plan was the creation of restored neighborhood of shops and restaurants with a German theme. The site surrounding 6th Street was chosen due to the location of the nearby 5th Street exit ramp (I-75) and Goebel Park.

The original plans for the village included a large German Gothic carillon, a visitors center, shelter house, restored Goebel Park, new sidewalks and landscaping, and a decorative fountain. In April 1977, the Commonwealth of Kentucky awarded Covington a grant in the amount of $2.5 million to begin work on the village. Among the most prominent early supporters of the project was Kentucky Governor Julian Carroll.

Work on the village began in the summer of 1977. Among the first projects to be completed was the Julian Carroll Carillon. The carillon was designed by Addison Clipson Architects Inc. of Cincinnati. The German Gothic tower was constructed at the intersection of 6th and Philadelphia Streets. The carillon featured four illuminated clock faces and 43 bells which were supplied by the I.T. Verdin Company of Cincinnati. The largest bell, weighing nearly 1,000 pounds was named “Big J” in honor of Governor Carroll. The next eight in size were named after the neighborhoods in Covington: Austinburg, Buena Vista, Helentown, Latonia, Lewisburg, Peaselburg, Rosedale and West Covington. The tower reached 100’ feet into the air and was toped by a weathervane designed to look like a Peaselburg goose. The carillon also featured a mechanical depiction of the Pied Piper of Hamlin which played at regular intervals throughout the day. The carillon was dedicated on July 19, 1978.

Goebel Park, which abutted the village, received a major renovation at this time. In addition, a large German Gothic shelter house was constructed on the north side of the carillon. On the south side of the carillon, an old home was remodeled into offices for the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau and for a welcome center. Other improvements included new sidewalks and landscaping on both sides of 6th Street.

Many new businesses were established in the village. Most of these were housed in restored 19th century buildings. By 1985, 29 restaurants and shops were in operation in the village.

The Goose Girl Fountain was officially unveiled in Main Strasse Village in October 1980 on Main Street at its intersection with 6th. The fountain was designed by Greek sculptor Eleftherios Karkadoulias and featured a large basin topped by a German girl carrying geese to market. The fountain is based on the Grimm’s Brothers “Goose Girl” fairy tale. The fountain was produced in bronze using the lost wax method.

Main Strasse Village was formally dedicated on September 8, 1979. Among the dignitaries present were Kentucky State Development Secretary William Short and Federal Republic of Germany Counsel to the United States Frederick Dittrich. Events on dedication day included speeches, entertainment and German food.

Main Strasse Village quickly became a popular location for season festivals in Northern Kentucky. The most popular festivals held in the village had German themes: Maifest and Oktoberfest. These events brought crowds of tens of thousands to the village each year. Other smaller festivals and events held in the village included: Antiques Fair, Auto Fest, Christmas Walk, the Great American Yard Sale and Goetta Fest.

In January 1996, the Main Strasse Village Association hired their first full-time executive director. The association promotes the neighborhood, sponsors many of the annual events in the village and encourages tourism.

City of Covington Main Street Development Plan, December 2, 1976; Kentucky Department of Communications: News Releases, August 11, 1977 and September 10, 1979; Kentuckian, May 13, 1979, p. 1; Kentucky Post, January 5, 1982 and May 17, 1996, p. 3k.

2K, December 5, 1997, p. 1K, April 10, 1998, p. 2K, May 31, 1999, p. 4K and August 16, 2001, p. 4K; Kentucky Enquirer, October 3, 1968

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