Neighborhood History and Architecture
Hopkinsville was founded in 1797 when the Christian Quarterly Court selected the site for their county seat. The site was chosen because it would include the Russellville and Ohio River Trail crossing at the North Fork of the Little River. It was also advantageous to have the county seat near the two forks because the rivers were major water highways. Five acres were given to the county for the court house by Bartholomew Wood. Wood and his wife Martha were the area's first Anglo American settlers and they claimed 1000 acres between the North and South Fork of the Little River in 1796. It was on Wood's property that the first thirty acres of Hopkinsville were platted. The town was laid out along the Russelville Road and bounded on the west by the Little River. Originally the town was named Elizabeth after Wood's eldest daughter, however in 1804, the town was renamed Hopkinsville by the State Legislature. The name was chosen to honor General Samuel Hopkins. a Revolutionary and War of 1812 veteran who resided in Henderson County.
Hopkinsville was an agricultural and governmental center through the first eighty years. The county's population doubled between 1830 and 1870. Although the fertile soil yielded a diversity of crops, dark tobacco was responsible for the financial success of most of the county's fanners. The early land holdings were vast and dark tobacco was sold on the world market. By 1870 Hopkinsville became the major city in the Pennyrile region, a title formerly held by Russellville to the east. Several institutions established in Hopkinsville enhanced the town's prominence. The Western Lunatic Asylum, now Western State Hospital, was located in Hopkinsville in 1854 by the Kentucky Legislature. Two colleges were also founded in Hopkinsville. The South Kentucky College was started in 1849 and the Bethel Female College opened its doors in 1854.
Railroads came to Hopkinsville and the county in the 1870s. In 1872 the St. Louis and South Eastern Railroad laid tracks through Hopkinsville, and by the late 1800s the Illinois Central had built a depot in Hopkinsville for their competing line. The railroads enhanced the economic prominence of Hopkinsville and brought more manufacturers and commerce to the city. Tobacco warehouses were opened, and the coal mines of the western Pennyrile increased in importance during the last half of the nineteenth century. As a result, workers came to Hopkinsville to take jobs in the mills, asylum, warehouses, factories, foundries, railroads and other businesses.
South Virginia Street was developed in the late 19th century and many fine Queen Anne and Colonial Revival dwellings were constructed along the street. Leading merchants and businessmen lived along South Virginia Street such as tobacco merchant Henry H. Abernathy at 2003 South Virginia. By the turn of the century, South Virginia Street boasted many fine brick and frame dwellings.
Increasing population resulted in the expansion of the town boundaries and improvements were made throughout the city. A phone exchange was introduced into the city in 1887 followed by electricity in 1892 and a city water system in 1896. Most of the city's growth continued along the river and to the east during the 19th century, but by 1900 Hopkinsville had begun to expand to the south. While workers' houses were built closer to the industries and business district, many affluent citizens were attracted to the suburbs. Hopkinsville saw its first motor car in 1905 which eventually resulted in the creation of the city's "automobile suburbs."
Currently, two residential areas in Hopkinsville have been designated as historic districts: Mount Pleasant (South Main St) and Anvirdale (Alumni Avenue, Latham Avenue, Mooreland Drive, portions of South Virginia Street).
Mount Pleasant Historic District
Anvirdale Historic District
- Anvirdale Historic Preservation Guidelines
- Anvirdale COA Application
- Anvirdale History and Architecture