This article was updated May 2023 by Lennie Omalza.
Portland begins at Tenth Street and continues along the Ohio River until just beyond the Sherman Minton Bridge near Shawnee Golf Course. Though it is only a few blocks from the Western edge of downtown, it is parts unknown to many Louisvillians. Not for long. These days, more locals are exploring the neighborhood that has been here all along, waiting for people to rediscover its intriguing past and exciting renewal. As Portland’s tagline aptly says, “Come for the History, Stay for the Future.”
EAT + DRINK
Over the last few years, several local eateries and coffee shops have opened, offering reliably delicious neighborhood go-tos.
Cup of Joy
More info: facebook.com
Founded by Esther Lyon as part of Haven Ministries, this Christian coffee shop and cafe serves up coffee, pastries, breakfast, and lunch in a former bar. Most employees are volunteers, and the shop is a safe place for people from all walks of life to convene.
Kyros Brewing Company
More info: kyrosbrewing.com
The owners of Portland’s newest brewery are providing a place for guests to get together in a casual setting to enjoy some home-brewed beer. The spot has roughly 10 beers on tap at any given time, including their own selections as well as a few picks from other local breweries.
Shippingport Brewing Company
More info: shippingportbrewing.com
Named for Shippingport Island off the shores of the Ohio, this woman-owned brewery serves a plethora of draft beers as well as Italian, grilled cheese, and chicken Bahn mi sandwiches. There are also occasional events and tours available.
More info: tablecafe.org
“Everyone Has a Seat at Our Table” is painted on the side of the building, and the people who run this restaurant mean it. For everyone to enjoy this farm-to-table concept, they’ve adopted a “pay what you can” policy. There are prices on the menu, but guests are encouraged to contribute what they can afford.
You won’t find big-box stores or huge shopping malls in Portland, which is part of its charm. The shopping scene here is one-of-a-kind, with several staples that have been around for decades.
More info: caufields.com
Known for bringing the unusual to Louisvillians since 1920, Caufield’s is a popular stop during Halloween. The store boasts costumes, accessories, collectibles, magic tricks, and more — and the huge bat hanging outside is simply iconic.
Janes Brothers Ace Hardware
More info: facebook.com
Ace Hardware stores can be found all over the country, each offering similar home improvement supplies. But Janes Brothers Ace Hardware boasts neighborhood charm, too — offering food to people in need throughout the community and bags of popcorn for customers to snack on while they shop.
The Opposite Shop
More info: theoppositeshop.com
Part of the creative writing and tutoring nonprofit Young Authors Greenhouse (YAG), The Opposite Shop offers books, posters, YAG merchandise, and other items with proceeds supporting the program. The store gets its name from mythical twins — a doctor and a ship captain — who saw themselves as so irreconcilably different that when they inherited the shop from their parents, they split it right down the middle to bring each of their visions to life.
More info: shaheens.com
Established in 1922, Shaheen’s isn’t a typical clothing store one might pop into for some casual shopping. It specializes in school uniforms as well as chef and server apparel, so it’s a helpful place to know if you work in the industry.
Historic Portland is an interesting walk through Louisville’s past, with revitalization efforts that clearly indicate the neighborhood’s future.
More info: instagram.com
Originally known as the Montgomery School Street School, this 165-year-old Renaissance Revival-style structure is on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is home to various businesses, including the Anchal Project, a nonprofit that uses design and collaboration to provide economic opportunities for marginalized women. The company sells sustainable apparel, bags, home goods, and more.
Falls Art Foundry
More info: fallsartfoundry.com
Falls Art Foundry is a fine art, lost-wax casting and design facility that provides sculptors, designers, and the extended arts community with personal service, high-quality casting, and unique educational opportunities. Its craftspeople are skilled artisans specializing in bringing visions to life … in bronze.
More info: fifteen-twelve.com
This 5,000-square-foot creative compound encompasses live music, art galleries, and studio/retail spaces. Be sure to peruse The Common Gallery, a contemporary gallery showcasing the works of emerging and mid-career artists. Fifteen Twelve has a standing capacity of 350 and is also available to host events.
More info: louisvillegrows.org
Founded by a group of “guerilla gardeners,” Louisville Grows’ goal is to spread the importance of greening the community. The organization holds regular tree-planting volunteer events and seed sales, helps create community gardens and more.
Louisville Visual Art
More info: louisvillevisualart.org
Louisville Visual Art (LVA) promotes local artists around the community at different events. The organization hosts events and houses local artists, providing a shared space for them to work and create. LVA also brings art to the public with various classes and camps focusing on outreach and education.
More info: lfpl.org
The Portland Library was founded in 1905 and is Louisville’s third oldest library branch. The Beaux Arts-style building survived the Great Flood of 1937, acting as a staging area for the Red Cross until the library had to be evacuated. Today it is a small, quiet force in the community, offering numerous reading programs for children and adults alike.
More info: portlandky.org
This museum is a treasure trove of information set in a beautiful old building — a former residence from 1852. The original house, Beech Grove, was the “county seat” on Portland Avenue, the main road connecting Portland to Louisville. Today, the museum hosts concerts, puppet shows, and other events.
Portland’s history and roots are worth exploring, and it is just a few minutes away from downtown Louisville. Get ready to explore!
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