Photo: Homes on Byrd Street in the Helentown Historic District, Covington. The District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Photographed by User:Nyttend (own work), 2013, [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed August, 2022.
The Helentown Historic District contains 840 buildings along or part of 37 blocks in Covington, Kentucky. The district contains an excellent collection of pre-1900 residential architecture constructed in the Greek Revival, Queen Anne, Italianate and Colonial Revival designs. Only 151 buildings in the district are non-contributing. Commercial use is found primarily on corners and there are few major intrusions in the district.
The area encompassed by the district is composed of rolling terrain with the streets divided on an essentially north/south and east west grid. There is a slight jog in north/south streets south of 15th Street to conform with early subdivisions. To the north of the district is the Downtown Commercial District, the Jacob Price Projects and the southern boundary of the Emery-Price district. To the west is Madison Avenue, on the south is the C&0 railroad embankment and on the east is the Licking River Floodwall.
The district is primarily made up of single-family and multi-family dwellings. Among these are large duplexes, apartment buildings and rowhouses from the late 19th century. Commercial buildings are much less common and are confined to street corners where they serve as local groceries or taverns. Many of these commercial buildings also date to the late 19th century and often retain elements of their original cast iron storefronts. Included in the district are also the imposing St. Mary's Cathedral, Carnegie library and several other churches and schools.
The area was originally settled by German, Irish and other immigrants after 1840. Most of the district was subdivided and settled by 1880 with a largely working class population who labored in Covington factories and shops. Although much of the original ethnic flavor of the community has dispersed through past generations the district still retains many German names and traditions. Since the early 1900s, a large black population has settled in the northeast section of the district.
The district retains several notable churches and schools which have been significant in the growth and development of Covington. St. Mary's Cathedral is one of the most important churches in the region and continues to serve the local Catholic congregation. Several other churches have aLso served the local Methodist and Christian congregations for many years. The Bishop Howard School, Catholic School and Catholic Latin School have all been important schools serving the German Catholics of the community.
The district contains one of the largest and best remaining concentrations of brick and frame Victorian architecture in the city. In addition to the residences themselves, the streetscapes with original iron fencing, brick sidewalks and alleys are also important aspects of the district. The many variations of Greek Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne designs makes the district especially architecturalLy significant.
† Eastside Multiple Resource Area, Hellentown Historic District, nomination document, 1986, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
11th Street East • 12th Street East • 13th Street East • 15th Street East • 16th Street East • Byrd Street • Collins Street • Garrard Street • Greenup Street • Madison Avenue • Martin Street • Maryland Avenue • Pleasant Street • Scott Boulevard • Trevor Street • Wheeler Street