Historic Princeton Downtown Tour Guide

The National Park Service in 1988 listed the Princeton downtown 
commercial district on the National Register of Historic 
Districts in recognition of buildings and sites in this area 
possessing historic and architectural significance.  Within 
this district forty buildings, constructed between 1817 and 
1939, and one site of significance were identified.

This district retains a strong Victorian flavor that relates 
back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The 
Victorian flavor is tastefully seasoned with dashes of several 
architectural styles from early Federal, Classical Revival, 
Italianate, and the more recent Art Deco.

Professional staff members of the Kentucky Heritage Council 
pinpointed significant representative structures to be 
highlighted on this tour.  Numerous other buildings along the 
streetscape display distinctive architectural details among 
which are stonefronts with ornate castiron columns and 
thresholds, intricate corbeled brick cornices and parapets, 
decorative metal fascias, corbeled brick pendants, and much more.

Your tour also includes a visit to historic Big Springs Park.  
Enjoy a refreshing rest at the Big Springs, a resource center 
for early Princeton settlement.  Big Springs is also remembered 
as a campsite for Cherokees during their forced exile to 
Oklahoma along the infamous Trail of Tears.

Princeton's Historic Commercial District tour originates at 
Adsmore, living history house museum which is located at 304 
North Jefferson Street.  You may park your car on the Adsmore 
parking lot while taking the tour.

1
The massive architectural concrete structure dominating the 
downtown area form the middle of Princeton's Court Square is the 
Caldwell County Courthouse 1939-1940.  An excellent example of 
Art Deco styling, the three story structure features heads of 
U.S. presidents in high relief projecting from medallions at the 
attic level.  This is the fourth courthouse to stand on this 
site.  It was constructed under the sponsorship of the Works 
Progress Administration.  Lawrence Casner, a Madisonville 
architect, designed the building.


Exterior photograph of Caldwell County Courthouse [circa 1941]


Exterior photograph of Caldwell County Courthouse [circa 1941]


Interior photograph of Caldwell County Courthouse [circa 1941]


Interior photograph of Caldwell County Courthouse [circa 1941]


Previous Caldwell County Courthouse [1938]


Opening of Circuit Court at new Caldwell County Courthouse [circa 1941]


Exterior photograph of Caldwell County Courthouse [circa 1940]


Caldwell County Courthouse after completion [1941]


Caldwell County Courthouse under construction [circa 1939]


Caldwell County Courthouse under construction [circa 1940]



2
The second story central cantilevered convex bay sheathed in 
decorative pressed metal, containing three curved windows, and 
flanked by paired, arched windows located at 115 West Court 
Square is an outstanding feature of the Victorian Eclectic two-
story polychrome brick building.  Originally the Masonic Lodge 
(1899), the attic level is maked by a stringcourse connecting 
the base of a central lunette and flanking medallions containing 
terra-cotta busts.  The cornerstone was laid June 17, 1899, and 
the finished building and lot cost $ 3,865.

4
A stone plaque reading 'GARRETT' commemorates the one-story 
brick building at 201 West Main, which has a narrow-angled 
entrance that addresses the corner.  Stone detailing includes 
round medal lions, a stringcourse, and an entrance facade 
parapet with turned balusters.  This is one of several 
commercial buildings developed by Robert Garrett in the 1920's.  
He was a former owner of Adsmore.

5
A fanciful Art Deco facade and entrance way characterizes the 
three-story Capitol Theatre, 203 West Main.  The most elaborate 
detail is concentrated on the first-floor entrance are, with its 
glass, tile, and steel components.  A colorful marquee reading 
'CAPITOL' is topped by a neon fountain motif.  Restored, the 
Capitol reopened as a first-run movie theatre in 1996 following 
many years in disrepair.

8
123-125 West Main (c.1920).  A one-story brick commercial 
building with two units.  123 retains its original transom and 
recessed display windows with central doorway.  Original brick 
piers with stone caps and bases define the main facade 
sections.  This building is topped with a deck roof with double 
front gables and side parapet walls.

9
The two-story, brick building with castiron elements at 113 West 
Main, was constructed in 1879.  The original fourbay castiron 
storefront has recessed doorway, flanking display windows, and 
an entrance to the second floor at one end.  The sheetmetal 
cornice features medallions and an ornate pressed pattern 
identical to that of the end elements of the hoodmolds.

10
111 West Main was the site of the First Bank and Trust Company.  
Constructed in 1884, fire destroyed the structure in 1988, and 
the property was donated to the city of Princeton by Mrs. 
Frederick Olszewska.  A park in her honor was dedicated in 
August 1992.

11
103-105 West Main (c.1900).  Two-story brick building with a 
central doorway decorated with stained glass fanlight leading to 
the second floor.  On the second floor, the central windows are 
topped by a stone pediment and the other windows by splayed 
lintels and keystones.  There is stone crenellation at the flat 
parapet with a taller flat and curved parapet bearing a stone 
name plaque in the center.

12
Built as an Opera House, at 102 E. Main (c.1890).  The second 
floor features a pair of large arched windows with the original 
sash and stained glass.  There is decorative brick work and a 
sheetmetal cornice.

13
114-116 East Main Street has castiron store fronts with 
pilasters, columns, a threshold central doorway and display 
windows flush to the sidewalk, a panelled door, and transom.

14
122 East Main, (c.1840's) is believed to have been the Eagle 
Tavern, an inn.  The building continues to convey its historic 
character in its facade organization and very tall flat parapet 
with decorative recessed panels and corbeled pendant cornice.

15
Reached from a landscaped alleyway slongside 122 East Main, 
visitors find their way to the natural fresh water of the Big 
Spring as it emerges from a limestone bluff in a wooded area of 
southeast downtown Princeton.  It has been developed by the 
local Garden Club into Big Springs Park.  The town's first 
settler, William Prince, owned the spring and built his 
limestone house, the first structure in Princeton, on the bluff 
above the mouth of the spring.  It was possibly the first 
masonry building in west Kentucky.

16
120 East Main, dateds from the 1830's and has two stories, with 
segmental arched openings and a central entrance with double 
paneled doors.  This is the former Globe Tavern.  The adjoining 
3-story structure is an old mill, recently converted into a 
country store.

17
The oldest building in downtown Princeton, the Champion-
Shepardson Building, 115 East Main was constructed in 1817 for 
Thomas Champion for his dry good business.  The best example of 
Federal style architecture in western Kentucky, this structure 
was restored by the Princeton Art Guild, with the assistance of 
the Kentucky Heritage Council, and listed on the National 
Register in 1978.  The small attached building (c.1890) serves 
as a working art studio.


Princeton (Caldwell) Negro High School [circa 1940]


Princeton (Caldwell) Negro High School [circa 1940]


Princeton (Caldwell) Negro High School [circa 1940]


Sandlick Road, Caldwell County, KY [circa 1930's]


Fredonia Road, Caldwell County, KY [circa 1930's]


Macadam Street, Caldwell County, KY [circa 1930's]


Market Street (2nd main thoroughfare) [circa 1940]




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