Overview History of Lewisburg
The Lewisburg neighborhood of Covington is located on hilly terrain in the western section of the city. Originally, much of this land (87 acres) was owned by Dr. Harvey Lewis. As the property began to be divided up into lots, residents began referring to the area as Lewisburg. Many of the original residents were German Immigrants.
In 1835,the Lexington Turnpike (current Dixie Highway) was chartered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The turnpike entered Covington at Pike Street. This portion of the road was completed in 1837. The construction of the Lexington Turnpike brought about a building boom in the Lewisburg neighborhood. The first lots were subdivided in c. 1842. Between 1845 and 1856, six additional subdivisions were created in the Lewisburg area. Eventually, the community was annexed by the City of Covington.
Area businessmen found the Lewisburg neighborhood attractive. The Willow Run Creek provided the neighborhood with a cheap source of water for industrial use. Land was also cheaper in Lewisburg than in Covington. The industries and businesses that located in Lewisburg included: Several meat packing concerns and slaughterhouses, a number of breweries and several saloons and beer gardens. An ample supply of jobs continued to attract many new residents to the neighborhood. By the 1890s, two breweries and seven slaughterhouses were in operation in Lewisburg.
In 1848, the Catholic families of the neighborhood pooled their resources to establish a parochial school. In 1854, St. John German Catholic Church followed. St. John Church and School quickly became the focus of the Lewisburg Neighborhood. German Catholics dominated the community for many years. In fact, no Protestant Churches existed in the neighborhood nor was there ever a need for a public school in the Lewisburg community.
By 1900, the Lewisburg neighborhood was almost entirely developed. The community was bordered by hills to the south and west and by the Willow Run to the east. These physical barriers kept the community from any additional expansion. In 1914, St. John Parish abandoned their original location at the corner of Leonard and Worth Streets for a new piece of property on Pike Street. That year a new school was constructed on the Pike Street property. A new German Gothic Revival church was completed in 1922.
The Lewisburg neighborhood remained a working-middle class community during the years before World War II. The neighborhood, however, changed drastically in the late 1940s. Long-time residents began selling their homes and moving to the new suburbs located along the Dixie Highway. The population of the neighborhood began to decline.
The 1950s brought another challenge to the Lewisburg neighborhood. The proposed route for Interstate 75 followed the Willow Run through much of Covington. When the interstate was actually built, a number of homes in the Lewisburg neighborhood were acquired by the federal government and demolished. Many of these homes were the newer residences in the neighborhood.
The construction of the interstate and a declining population made the Lewisburg area a less attractive residential area. Many owner occupied homes became rental property, and others were divided into small low rent apartments.
The establishment of the Lewisburg Neighborhood Association (LNA) in 1993 marked the beginning of efforts to turn around the neighborhood. The group worked to place the entire neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places. This was accomplished in 1994. The LNA also sponsored community cleanup activities, prepared a development plan for the community, presented awards to residents who beautifully maintained their property and restored the Father Henry Hanses Park.
Today the neighborhood is a mixture of homes, businesses and entertainment establishments. The neighborhood is no longer a German Catholic enclave. The residents represent diverse social, racial and economic groups.