The city holds on to history while leaders like Rick Guiley work to reinvigorate downtown.
Standing murals decorate the sidewalks of Louisville along Main Street. Behind them sit a few businesses credited with anchoring the small city’s downtown.
Louisville, nicknamed Constitution Town, earned statewide acclaim in the 1950s after a city woman declared residents ought to celebrate a Constitution Day because she worried they were taking their freedoms for granted. The city first commemorated the Constitution with a ceremony September 17, 1952; and the following year, September 17 was proclaimed Constitution Day across Ohio.
Today, Louisville’s heritage is celebrated in its annual festival, but downtown’s storefronts—some of which stand abandoned—continue to evoke memories of decades past.
But while Louisville holds on to its history, city and county leaders have embarked on an effort to reinvigorate the city’s downtown through a partnership with ArtsinStark. Their 10-year plan includes outfitting three blocks of historical buildings downtown from Chapel to Walnut streets with retail, cultural offerings and office space. Plans also involve public art projects, new festivals and downtown living.
Rick Guiley, who sits on city council and served on the task force that developed the plan, said there aren’t tons of ready-made draws that lure people to downtown Louisville, and the idea behind the 20/20 Vision plan is to change that.
As part of the effort, Guiley would like to see an alleyway that runs through downtown be closed to vehicles and repurposed so it becomes a place for people to view art, whether temporary or permanent.
Louisville is in the midst of a community planning process, and more than roads or city services, the residents surveyed said the city’s No. 1 priority and the issue they most would like to see addressed is the old downtown.
“I think that we are on the cusp of a renaissance because the public is willing to show up for events there,” Guiley said.
Art and History Gallery
One of the storefronts in downtown Louisville is the 20/20 Vision Art and History Gallery, which displays photos and paintings, along with artwork by Louisville Middle School students.
The Louisville-Nimishillen Historical Society and ArtsinStark use the facility to showcase art and to offer art classes to the public.
Uptown Joe Coffee Shop
Get caffeinated at downtown’s lone (and local) coffee shop. The family-run Uptown Joe opened late last year and offers a wide variety of hot and iced mochas and macchiatos, along with seasonal drinks. The shop also serves sandwiches for lunch for and, for a sweeter treat, offers pastries and chocolate-covered coffee beans. The shop is designed so you can stay awhile, with comfy chairs and high-top tables for reading or studying.
Down the street, the doors of the Louisville Town Tavern swing open onto the sidewalk, revealing a multi-sided bar. The brick building with tiny windows looks as if it were plucked from colonial times. Groups gather at the tavern to watch football and play pool.
The wine bar and eatery is downtown’s newest dine-in restaurant. The decor is old-fashioned, with checkered floors and dark-wood booths, and the food has earned rave reviews on social media. The menu includes everything from grilled cheese sandwiches and bison burgers to French-cut pork chops and steak au poivre, and there are specials—such as chicken Alfredo and filet mignon—that alternate with the day of the week. Plus, house-made desserts are available on a rotating basis.
Known for “kards, kandy and kollectibles,” they stock Yankee Candle products, jewelry, scarves and other gifts. Don’t feel like driving to Canton for a Heggy’s fix? The store stocks its popular chocolates and nuts.
The Louisville branch is a mainstay on the corner of Main and Chapel streets. The store designs its own jewelry for customers and displays the crowns for the Louisville Constitution Queen and her court.
Louisville Constitution Festival
The city celebrates the Constitution with a week of events and a three-day festival. This year’s festivities included a pageant, a car show, pet parade, choir concert, prayer breakfast, live entertainment, community banquet and a grand parade that wound through downtown.