The Louisville Public Warehouse Company Historic Site

Louisville’s importance as a port meant that there were many warehouses near the river. The Louisville Public Warehouse Co. built its first facility in the 200 block of Main St. in 1884. In addition to storing whisky, it also held ironworks, furniture, wagons, and tobacco.

In 1889 the company moved to a warehouse
at Brook and Main and built four warehouses at Brook and Washington. Because of taxes, it was actually cheaper to age whiskey out of the country and pay import duty, so the firm owned a warehouse in Bremen, Germany for storage of whiskey shipped from Louisville.

By 1880, Louisville was largest tobacco manufacturing center in Kentucky. Storage and distribution was concentrated in the Tobacco District centered on Main Street between Eighth and Twelfth Streets, overlapping Whiskey Row. Tobacco was stored and shipped in wooden barrels (hogsheads) containing 1000 pounds each. Some 175,000 hogsheads sold annually up until 1900. In the early 20th century, loose-leaf bundling replaced hogsheads in and tobacco warehouses and auctions moved to Lexington. Today tobacco is virtually gone from Kentucky, but bourbon is thriving!

Louisville Public Warehouse Company eventually stopped storing tobacco and whiskey. The company was sold in 1967 and facilities later moved to a site near Louisville International Airport. It specialized in medical equipment and pharmaceuticals and helped distribute blood for the American Red Cross.