Hidden In Plain Sight: St. Joseph’s
The St. Joseph’s neighborhood is nestled up to the University of Louisville’s campus, inconspicuous to most. I-65 bounds the neighborhood’s west side where it stretches along Eastern Parkway until it reaches S. Preston Street. The neighborhood is comprised of only a handful of streets lined with bungalows and shotgun-houses, and it has a little less than 2000 residents. But don’t let its unassumingness delude you. Arguably, St. Joseph’s is home to Louisville’s most popular bakery, coffee shop, and ice cream stand, and not to mention a well-kept secret.
On a Sunday morning it’s not unusual for a line to be forming nearly out the door of Nord’s Bakery. Although they are known for their cakes, pastries, and other sweets, Nord’s draws a crowd of regulars for their freshly-made donuts. From the classic Long John to maple-bacon topped, a wide assortment of donuts fill the display, but not for long as customers stream through the doors. If you’ve never been in the excitement of Nord’s bakery on a weekend morning, you’re missing out.
Next door to Nord’s is one of Louisville’s true gems, Sunergos Coffee. This micro-roastery brews a renowned cup of coffee. Named America’s Best Espresso in 2014, Sunergos is the place to go for smooth coffee and a warm, eclectic vibe. Year round, people fill the hodgepodge of chairs and sofas but as the temperatures start to fall the cozy atmosphere and hot drinks make this the best place to be.
Another Louisville favorite in the St. Joseph’s neighborhood is Dairy Kastle. Famous for its Fat Elvis and other soft-serve treats, Dairy Kastle has been serving residents spring through early fall for over 35 years. This is ice cream worth standing in line for. During season it’s not unusual to see a long line budding up to Eastern Parkway while others crowd around picnic tables with their milkshakes and chili-dogs.
Amidst these familiar eateries, hidden in plain sight, is a historical landmark that preserves the beginnings of the neighborhood. In 1926 the sisters of Charity of Nazareth, who operated the downtown St. Joseph’s Infirmary, relocated the infirmary to what is now the area between Bradley Ave. and S. Preston St. A year later, they dedicated a grotto for prayer and meditation.
The Grotto and Garden of Our Lady of Lourdes is all that’s left of the original infirmary. The sisters sold the property to Humana in 1970 and ten years later it was demolished when the hospital relocated to Poplar Level Rd. The land where the infirmary once stood is now the location of University Park Apartments. Visitors to the complex could easily overlook the grotto settled in a grove of trees between the apartments. But since 2000 a group of St. Joseph’s residents has been working hard to preserve the grotto’s history. It is now a historical Kentucky landmark.