Overview History of the West End
In the early 1800s, J. Craig owned much of what today is Covington’s
west end. He sold these holdings to James Riddle in 1820. Riddle’s
plans for the property included the creation of a new town called Hibernia.
A plat for Hibernia was developed that included four streets running east
to west: Front, 2nd, 3rd and 4th; and three streets running north to south:
Main, Walnut and Vine. Riddle’s dream for Hibernia never grew beyond
the planning stages. No streets were built and no lots were sold. In 1825,
Riddle sold the property to the Bank of the United States for the sum
Development in the west end began in the year 1825, when the Bank of the
United States commissioned a plat for its 580-acre property. The new development
contained four streets running from east to west: Front, 2nd, 3rd and
4th; and three streets running north to south: Riddle, Ferry and Philadelphia.
It is believed that the name Philadelphia was given to the street because
the Bank of the United States had its headquarters in that city.
The west end south of 11th Street began to develop in 1835, when the Western
Baptist Theological Institute purchased 350-acres to use as a seminary.
A seminary building and several other structures were built on the site.
In order to raise funds, the Board of Trustees sold 23 acres of the original
site between 1839 and 1841. By 1843, over 150 private residences had been
built on this property. A dispute over the issue of slavery resulted in
the seminary’s closing in 1855. Much of the Western Baptist Theological
Institute’s property was subdivided at this time and sold for residential
and business use. In addition, Linden Grove Cemetery was established on
this property in 1843.
The west end attracted many of the new German immigrants arriving in Covington
in the mid-1800s. These Germans established several churches and schools
in the community, including: Immanuel German Methodist Church (1847),
St. Paul German Evangelical Church (1847), Grace Evangelical Reformed
Church (1862) and St. Aloysius German Catholic Church and School (1865).
Other German related institutions and business in the neighborhood included
the Western German Savings Bank (1908) and the Heidelburg Brewery Company
Irish Catholics also found in home in the west end, especially in the
areas north of 5th Street. In 1870, St. Patrick Parish was established
in the neighborhood to care for these immigrants. The Reverend James Smith,
a native of Ireland, filed the post as pastor of the congregation from
1870 until his death in 1908. Other churches in the neighborhood included
Main Street Methodist Church (1858) and Southside Baptist Church (1907).
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad constructed a rail line through the neighborhood
in the 1880s. This line acted as a boundary to delineate the west end
from the downtown. Initially, the tracks were on the street level. This
caused innumerable problems for pedestrian and wagon travel. With the
advent of the automobile, these railroad crossings became very dangerous.
In the 1920s, the C&O tracks were elevated, thus allowing vehicular
travel to pass underneath.
Goebel Park, named after assassinated Kentucky Governor and Covington
resident William Goebel, provided many recreational activities for the
people of the west end. The park was established in 1909 and has been
in constant use ever since. The park included a wading pool, shelter house,
walking trails and a playground.
Several public schools served the community. In 1846, the Second District
School was established in the neighborhood on Greer Street. Second District
was renamed John G. Carlisle School when a new structure was completed
in 1937. Third District Elementary School began operation on in 1850.
The school was located at the corner of 5th and Philadelphia Streets.
In addition, the original Covington High School was located in the West
End. The building was located at the corner of 12th and Russell Streets.
Covington High School remained in this location until the new Holmes High
School was constructed on Madison Avenue in 1919.
The west end contained both residential and commercial, property. Main
Street became the primary commercial thoroughfare. Most of the residential
property was built for the working and middle classes. A more prosperous
section of the neighborhood was located along Russell Street. This street
was lined with many Victorian era brick homes for the well-to-do residents
The first major blow to the west end was the 1937 Flood. High water inundated
much of the neighborhood near the Ohio River. Many of the residents of
this area sold their property and moved to higher ground. During the World
War II years, the west end became home to a sizeable Appalachian population.
These ‘mountain people’ came to the Covington area to find
During the post-World War II era, Covington residents accelerated their
departure from the city to the suburbs. Among the hardest hit neighborhoods
was the west end. The population of the area fell dramatically. This loss
in population resulted in the closing of many west end landmarks. In 1950,
Immanuel Methodist Church moved to the suburban community of Lakeside
Park. The congregation of St. Paul United Church of Christ also relocated
to the suburbs in 1969. St. Patrick Parish closed its doors in 1967 and
fire destroyed St. Aloysius Church in 1985. A declining enrollment in
the Covington Public Schools resulted in closing of Third District School
in 1981. In 1995, Grace United Methodist Church closed following 133 years
of service to the community.
The City of Covington focused on the revitalization of the neighborhood
in the 1970s. In 1977, the Commonwealth of Kentucky awarded the city a
grant for $2.5 million. The result of this grant was the creation of Main
Strasse Village, a German themed shopping and entertainment area centered
at the corner of Main and 6th Streets. Main Strasse included a German
Gothic carillon with 43 bells. The carillon was named after Kentucky Governor
Julian Carroll. The neighborhood also featured a fountain with a design
based on the Grimm’s Brothers “Goose Girl” fairy tale.
In more recent years, the neighborhood benefited from the construction
of several businesses on West 3rd Street, including four hotels and a
Lexus automobile dealership. Today, the neighborhood is primarily divided
between commercial (Fourth Street to the Ohio River) and residential (Fifth
Street to the southern boundary).