Covington’s Famous Murals, the Licking-Riverside Historic District, & Roebling Point

306662505_601425335093577_9220491649017470195_n Covington, Kentucky is bound to the north by the Ohio River that flows above the city and to the east, and its confluence into the Licking River flows south. Tucked into that right angle is the Licking-Riverside Historic District, Covington’s most well-preserved historic district. Licking-Riverside comprises eight city blocks within 4th and 8th Streets, between Greenup Street to the west, and the Licking River to the east. Streets running west to east are named after the first five governors of Kentucky- Shelby, Garrard, Greenup, Scott, and Madison. This was an active community even before Covington was incorporated as a city in 1815, and remains the most well-preserved one. Most of the homes were built in the mid-1800s for the most wealthy and elite residents, including politicians, doctors, and academia. 312823310_601409521761825_3119444390325040942_n Licking-Riverside is known for its restored homes in the Italianate, Bungalow/Craftsman, various Victorian, Greek Revival, French Second Empire, Georgian Revival, and other distinct architectural styles. These large riverfront mansions were built in the early to mid-1800s. Time did not allot for me to walk the entire district and check out all the lovely homes, but there is a free guided walking tour that meets at the Covington Branch Public Library on Wednesdays at 10 am. One of the guides has also created this video of an actual tour: Some of the most notable buildings in Licking-Riverside include:
  • The home of Covington’s Founding Father, Thomas Carneal. His was the first brick house in the city, built in 1815 and it had a private tunnel to the Licking River.
  • Dr. William Orr’s 1846 female academy in 1846 is said to have been the first prominent structure in the district, as well as the 1894 Covington Ladies Home.
  • Ulysses S. Grant’s parents lived in the district, and his father Jesse is remembered for being the community’s postman.
  • Daniel Carter Beard of Sons of Boone fame, later integrated as the Boy Scouts, lived here, and you can visit his childhood home.
  • The Baker-Hunt Foundation, the former Covington Art Club building, and the American Red Cross building are all unique architectural wonders.
  • George Rogers Clark Park is named for the surveyor, soldier, and commanding officer known for becoming the highest-ranking military Revolutionary War leader on the northwestern from, among his other amazing feats.
That is not even the half of it! 312948728_601409638428480_7712246280376522114_n Within the Licking-Riverside Historic District there is a second, smaller historic district called the Riverside Drive Historic District. It made the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and is set apart by a concentration on Riverside Drive specifically, rather than the general area. 306271405_601331121769665_8265058616712328794_n Both districts have faced the danger of being destroyed many times over. The Great Flood of 1937 ruined so much of the town. Check out my blog about Covington’s neighbouring city of Newport, to learn more about that. 312889024_601351381767639_2984102380136579206_n The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge is celebrated for its striking appearance in the Covington and Cincinnati Skylines just as much as it is for its historical significance. During the Great Flood of 1937, this was the only bridge still accessible when others were submerged underwater. Civil Engineer John A. Roebling created this 1,075-feet long bridge in his own unique style, that later inspired the design for the Brooklyn Bridge. When it was finished and opened to the public in 1867, it was the longest bridge in the world. It was named both a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the volunteer-backed Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge Committee (CCSBC) is dedicated to preserving it. 312953544_601356755100435_7055968068205184417_n The second largest threat to the historic district has been constant attempts by outsiders to develop and commercialize the riverfront property. In the 1960s, residents organized with the Northern Kentucky Heritage League to fend off one major project, but it has been a constant struggle since. Historic Licking Riverside Civic Association (HLRCA)  is a volunteer-supported organization founded in the 1970s, whose members aim to restore and protect the district. One of their community’s achievements is obtaining Historic Preservation Overlay Zoning that has been in place since 1988. 312956624_601359135100197_5430215097376491388_n There is so much to do and see here! Starting on Riverside Drive at Roebling Way, right at the base of the Roebling Suspension Bridge, you can find parking in the Suspension Bridge Lot. Following Riverside Drive, also called the Riverwalk, walk west to view the Dafford Murals. 312910678_601357681767009_122942880088243400_n Robert Dafford was commissioned to paint eighteen incredible murals depicting Covington and Northern Kentucky historical events from 8,000 BC to to modern day Covington and the Roebling Bridge. 312964977_601356048433839_2229618028136404814_n 312926220_601351628434281_8138141708062871606_n The project was led by Legacy and commemorated in 2002. You can learn more about each individual mural here. 312964602_601355448433899_7016702856752292596_n 312935027_601352228434221_3931794856815318324_n Dafford has additional riverfront mural projects in New Jersey, Mississippi, and a few other Kentucky towns. 312987078_601351191767658_6089075419651470426_n312980120_601358085100302_2887791819521039614_n Once you have made your way back to the Roebling Suspension Bridge, continue east along the Riverwalk. 312578312_601351301767647_8125722684781452147_n You can find seven different large bronze sculptures on the Licking-Riverside Riverwalk that each tell another part of Covington’s history. From Chief Little Turtle and Simon Kenton, to Mary B. Green and John A. Roebling, and other important figures- see if you can find all seven. 313023141_601409888428455_2548665726797273129_n Roebling Point is a modest cluster of shops and restaurants flanking the western side of Licking-Riverside, along Greenup Street. Parking can be difficult to find in this area, but it is a small block intended to serve its pedestrian residents who mostly bike and walk its broad streets under towering shade trees. 312882010_601405531762224_5420330121417912189_n Roebling Point Books & Coffee is the beacon of the block, situated between Lil’s Bagels, The Governor’s House Wine Bar & Italian Kitchen, Blinkers Tavern, Keystone Bar & Grill, and Smoke Justis. 312834619_601331848436259_7774759729203009280_n This area was Covington’s original business district, and is in very close proximity to Covington’s modern Central Business District, the Mutter Gottes neighbourhood, and the Mainstrasse Village. 312553742_601385405097570_1382048165801017830_n In the area for a while? Follow me across the Licking River to Newport on the Levee, or explore the next-door neighbourhoods of Mutter Gottes and Mainstrasse Village. ******************** © Copyright Fernwehtun, 2015- Current. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Fernwehtun and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 thoughts on “Covington’s Famous Murals, the Licking-Riverside Historic District, & Roebling Point

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