Historic Structures

Building Description Louisville, Henderson, and St. Louis Railroad Depot, Fordsville Kentucky

Built in 1916, the Louisville, Henderson, and St. Louis Railroad Depot in Fordsville, Kentucky is a long, low, concrete-block, tileroofed building which relates most closely in style to the Prairie School. It sits prominently on an untended, one-quarter acre lot located on Walnut Street, just north of Main Street (State Highway 54), Fordsville's main commercial street. The railroad tracks which ran along the north side of the depot were removed shortly after the railroad was abandoned in 1941. Otherwise the building and its setting appear much as they did during 1916 - 1941.

The depot is a one-story rectangular structure of approximately 18' by 70'. A small rectangular bay located in the ticket office protrudes from the north side near the west end. The building served originally as both a passenger and freight facility and is subdivided on the interior into four rooms. It is constructed of smooth-faced concrete block resembling square-cut, regular-coursed ashlar. The redtiled roof is hipped, with a very low pitch and a deep overhang. It is finished on its underside with tongue-and-groove boards. A gable-roofed projection extends over the bay.

Windows are nine-over-one double-hung sash. They rest on a continuous concrete water table that wraps around the building, and they are capped by concrete lintels that protrude slightly from the wall. Windows are paired on the west end of the building and in the ticketoffice bay. Others are individually set along the north and south walls to light the waiting rooms and freight area. Doors have five horizontal panels. Three, leading from ground level into the waiting rooms, are topped by large nine-light transoms; two, leading from loading docks into the freight and luggage area, are paired with windows and capped by a long narrow transom. The building has two small interior chimneys that rise through the roof ridge.

Exterior detailing is simple, relying on the low, Prairie-style massing, the handsome tile roof, and the nine-over-one windows to make an architectural statement. Corner quoins formed of bevel-edged blocks, the continuous water table that runs around the building, and a simple Stick-style decoration around the attic window in the gable end over the ticket-office bay constitute the only significant detailing.

The interior is equally basic. The four spaces are arranged laterally in the building. Interior doors are arranged shot-gun style so that, with the doors open, one can stand at one end of the building and see all the way through to the other end. At the west end two waiting rooms, one for white and the other for black passengers, flank a central ticket office. Up three steps at the east end is a large, partially subdivided space that served as a freight and luggage room.

The ticket office and the two waiting rooms are finished with concrete floors and plaster walls and ceilings. Door and window surrounds consist of simple wood frames. At the east end, the freight room has walls of exposed concrete block. Exterior doors on both sides of this room lead out to the remains of historic wood loading docks.

After the railroad was closed down the building was sold, in 1941, to a private individual who adapted it as a residence. Only two changes appear to have been made. Square ticket windows that opened from each waiting room into the ticket office were filled in. Their outline is still visible. In the freight room a wooden partition was constructed that partially subdivided the space. According to elderly residents of Fordsville who remember the depot when it was still operating, it never had indoor plumbing. There is no evidence that it was ever installed.

The 80' by 136' lot is located half-way up a gentle slope that rises up from Main Street (Highway 54) just to the south. The depot lies parallel to Main Street and is very prominent landmark from the small business district which is located there. To the north of the depot is a small nonhistoric house, to the south a modern gas station. Fordsville has modernized the facades of most of the historic buildings in its business district.