Growing up in a little Florida beach town didn’t prepare Kate Baldwin for the harsh northeast winters she would encounter when beginning her career. After obtaining a graduate degree in Heritage Resources in Louisiana, she moved to Boston to work at a national park. In 2010, she took a job at a historical society in Litchfield, Connecticut.
Mike got an undergraduate degree in math in his native Arkansas and completed a graduate degree in 2010 at Columbia in New York with a year spent traveling the world in between. He then took a teaching job in New Haven, where he met Kate.
Married in 2013, the newlyweds wanted to move south to be closer to family and escape the bitter Connecticut winters. They hoped to live in a city sizable enough to have career opportunities in their fields, but not so large to not have an affordable and good quality of life. Mike and Kate dreamed of a house with a nice kitchen and a garage, and because they had a 45-minute commute to their jobs, one close enough to ride their bikes to work. Impressed with Louisville while researching cities that would meet these criteria, they ultimately decided to move there.
While in Louisville interviewing for a job with Humana, Mike was taken on a tour of the city, including a lengthy trek through Old Louisville. He was fascinated with the beautiful historic neighborhood and excited to share with Kate about the possibility of living there. Humana offered him a position in October to begin the following June. After spending Christmas with Mike’s parents in Nashville, Kate and Mike made a quick trip to Louisville, where they saw sixteen houses in two days! While they looked at homes in various neighborhoods, the 2,700 square-foot Foursquare Vernacular at 626 Floral Terrace in Old Louisville was their hands-down favorite. They purchased it and four months later moved into this house and neighborhood, both rich in history.
Floral Terrace was developed atop Floral Park, an admission-only park owned by area resident Henry Dumesnil. His decision to turn the park into a residential area came around 1892, prompted by the fact that the city had neglected it during the five years he’d entrusted it to them rent-free. The Central Improvement Company began the first phase of construction with nine “home-a-rama” type brick homes on the eastern and western ends of the terrace. According to an October 4, 1905 Courier-Journal article that Kate provided, these homes “as a result of careful study, express individuality of design. The arrangement of the interior is exceptionally good, every inch of space being utilized to the best advantage” with “two and three stories built of pressed brick with slate roofs, containing from six to eight rooms, besides bathroom, closets in each room and laundry in basement. They also have every modern improvement, including electric light, natural and artificial gas, automatic water heater, and are heated throughout with hot water, thus insuring a uniform heat in all parts of the house at a minimum cost and free from dirt.” One can only imagine how quickly families purchased these homes with all their “modern” amenities.
John A. McDowell oversaw the second developmental phase, constructing wooden homes in the center between the brick ones. McDowell sold 626 to Patrick Glynn in August of 1911. Around 1928, he added the first floor porch, second floor sleeper porch and garage. (Note the house across the terrace at 623 is the same construction but with an original porch). Supervisor at the L&N Railroad and owner of a grocery on Seventh behind St. Louis Bertrand, Glynn deeded the house to his niece, Margaret in 1932. Leonard and Corabell Bohanon purchased the home a few years later. After both of their deaths in 1961, the house went to their twin sons, Vernon and Bernard. Following Vernon’s death in 1983, the home remained unoccupied, passing between various family members, until the house was purchased by a local LLC for renovation in 2010.
At that time, the deteriorating back side of the house was rescued and repaired. A laundry room and bath were added about eight feet beyond the original rear of the home. The kitchen and bathrooms were also renovated, and air conditioning was installed. Because of these updates, and since they were only the third owners, the house was in very good shape when Kate and Mike moved into it in 2014. The Meadors were the first owners to add phone, cable and internet services!
Elements original to the house include pocket doors with glass dividers in the front room as well as a coffered ceiling, a coal chute wall in the basement, thin cut oak floors and some window glass throughout the house. Interesting architectural features of the home include a horse lantern out front, added and made functional by the Bohanons. Additionally added by the Bohanons were the eye hooks in the beams of the foyer ceiling. In their free time, Vernon and Bernard painted forgeries of art works (fairly poorly, according to neighbors who remember them) and hung their canvases in the house to dry. Upon moving in to the house in 2014, the Meadors discovered one of the brother’s self-portraits in the basement crawl space.
After a few temporary jobs in Louisville, Kate finally landed a dream job in her field in June 2015 when she became the director of the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum right here in Old Louisville. Now she walks to work and Mike rides his bike to his job at Humana downtown. In February of this year, the couple welcomed to their household their most significant addition to date: Ava Pollard Meador. During this year’s tour, visit the home of our neighborhood’s very own success story, a couple who deliberately chose to move to Louisville and live, work and raise a family in Old Louisville. The Meadors are delighted to open their home at 626 Floral Terrace, which they say is its own special place. “You move in and have your own community.”