8601 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY: The Hicks Home

As this is my first history-related entry, I figure I’ll start off with a location that has turned out to be well-discussed if not fairly well-explored: the home allegedly belonging to Dr. John Howell Hicks at 8601 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY. Having recently returned from this adventure and full of questions, my search took me into the vast world of the internet wherein I discovered a great deal of speculation and conjecture, but not much in the way of proof that this home’s earliest purported owner was that of Dr. Hicks, a physician who moved to Louisville sometime in the 1940’s.

There are reports that Dr. Hicks both treated his patients and lived with his family in this house, which used to be an expansive farm with multiple homes once owned by Dr. Hicks and his kin.  The farm extended across the Dixie Highway to where a strip mall now occupies what was believed to be Hicks family land and homesteads.  Sadly, many of the other homes were demolished years ago (as late as the 1970’s) as time claimed their beauty and safety all in one hard blow.

Further reports from later dates in history indicate that this home was used as a stopping point for soldiers bound for home during WWII, a train depot, that it was once occupied by a British man and his three disabled children until one passed away, and, of course, most recently (as recent as the early 2000’s, to be exact), an apartment complex. Those who say that Dr. Hicks didn’t in fact build the home would lead one to believe that this home was once a farm that produced cattle and hay.  It is also implied that it was used as a motel on the Dixie Highway during the 20’s and 30’s, even offering a laundry service to weary travelers whose only way to get from north to south in those days would’ve been by the two-lane 31W beyond the house’s front gates.

Further compounding the intrigue factor here is that a road that leads behind the house and up a hill will take you to yet another abandoned home–this one much newer–that was reportedly built by the son of Dr. Hicks.  There are several abandoned cars and a piece of heavy equipment with ’06 Kentucky registration that sits in the vicinity of this second home.  An RV was also spotted on this land, so needless to say, I ventured back down to the main house and focused my investigation there. While this post will focus on the exploration of the house at 8601, I will soon post another update regarding the Hicks family based on my findings on ancestry.com.  Then and only then will I say with any certainty the history of the home and whom its owners/inhabitants may have been. The big white mansion off Dixie Highway near I-265 in Louisville, KY has long caught my attention.  I first noticed it last year while making my way for 264.  In the harsh exposure of fall, this house seems to spring out of the woods, beckoning the innocent passer-by to come in for a bit of exploration.  So with little prodding, that’s exactly what I did.

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Interesting, yes?  Rest assured, it hardly ends here.  After crossing the railroad tracks, I ventured up closer, eager for a closer look at this shy creature.

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This is the view of the house from the south side.  The addition on the back appears to be an old garage that was converted to apartments by my best guess. Wandering up some old steps and around to the back, I quickly found what appears to be a cinderblock addition to the back of the home on the second floor.  The addition appeared to be a set of apartments, which ran three rooms deep from the back of the home to the front.

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With doors standing wide open, this of course begged a thorough look-see.

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This is a look at Apartment 3 from the back door of the apartment toward the front of the house.  The back room (closest to you in the photo and painted in blue), which does not appear to be original to the house as it was constructed of cinder block vs. brick, served as a kitchen with a bathroom off to the left.  The center and front rooms appeared to be living room and dining room areas and part of the original house.

The center room.
The center room.
Looking into the front room.
Looking into the front room.
The front room.
The front room.
Old record player in the front room.
Old record player in the front room.

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Walking directly through the three rooms to the front of the house, I took a left turn through another front room and a short hallway and found myself standing to the right of the door pictured above.  The door to the balcony, unlike the front door downstairs, stands wide open to the world outside.

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This photo is from the balcony door, facing the Dixie Highway.

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Walking past the balcony door (continuing south in the house or to one’s left), there stands a final large front room.  A fireplace and the trim around the ceiling are still very visible.

Looking through the center room through the house horizontally.  All three rooms are connected.
Looking through the center room through the house horizontally. All three rooms are connected.
Old bathroom off the front right room.
Old bathroom off the front right room.
Attic stairs heading up.
Attic stairs heading up.

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Having located the attic steps, I explored the attic with the camera, noting a great deal of debris, discarded glass bottles, shoes of all sorts, and chairs.

Back downstairs, we check out the upstairs room in the cinderblock side addition.

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Heading downstairs, I check out the downstairs first floor of the cinderblock side addition.

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Steps in the side addition leading to the upstairs.
Steps in the side addition leading to the upstairs.

We head in an open side entrance, taking a hallway through the house and into the front rooms.

View of the side house.  The entry we took is in the far back of the house just to the right of the cinderblock addition that juts out in the far back.
View of the side house. The entry we took is in the far back of the house just to the right of the cinderblock addition that juts out in the far back.
The first room immediately upon entering through the side of the house.
The first room immediately upon entering through the side of the house.
One of the rooms off the hallway.
One of the rooms off the hallway.
Yet another room off the main hallway.
Yet another room off the main hallway.
The front room of the house from the back.  As you enter the house from the front door, this room would be immediately to your left.
The front room of the house from the back. As you enter the house from the front door, this room would be immediately to your left.
The main staircase from the first floor. One unique feature of this home is that the staircase was enclosed with very little room in the "foyer". There is a door immediately to the right of the steps, facing the front door, as you walk into the house. There was another door at a 90-degree angle to the staircase entry to the left.
The main staircase from the first floor. One unique feature of this home is that the staircase was enclosed with very little room in the “foyer”. There is a door immediately to the right of the steps, facing the front door, as you walk into the house. There was another door at a 90-degree angle to the staircase entry to the left.
View out the front door into the lawn.
View out the front door into the lawn.

As both doors to the right were closed and the windows on the right of the house securely boarded, I did not disturb them.

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This is a view through the north side of the house (1-story only) from the room immediately to the left as you enter the home, which had clearly been lived in for some time by vagrants.  As this home was reportedly a physician’s home and office, this area may have been dedicated to seeing patients and tending the ill as it appears too small to have been apartment dwellings.

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Standing on the front steps and looking at the front door.
Standing on the front steps and looking at the front door.
Looking north from the front porch.
Looking north from the front porch.

This is a view from the side of the home from the north, facing directly south. If this forgotten beauty is in fact a product of the 1920’s, she’s a rarity for her era.  The interior appears to have been built with apartments in mind as doors adjoin every room, though the external structure would contradict that assumption and even a cursory glance will confirm that this brick-laid mystery will forever harbor more secrets than what can be found in the historic records.

Related articles/publications/musings/references:
https://aprettypickle.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/8601-dixie-highway/ http://valleyreport.blogspot.com/2011/07/valley-report-rewind-2009-hicks-house.html

Be sure to check out my subsequent posts on the Hicks family:
https://thewaywardwanderlust.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-hicks-family-history-a-mystery-unraveling/
https://thewaywardwanderlust.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/mary-and-marvin-cunningham-the-mystery-of-8601-continues/

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40 thoughts on “8601 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY: The Hicks Home

  1. I love to look at old houses, my husband when he was living use to take me to some that was abandon, we would spend all day looking them over. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband and son-in-law have had dealings with Dr. Hicks. I have memories of Stanley Hicks, Dr. Hicks’ brother living in a home on the property. Stanley Hicks drove a school bus and was very good to we teens in the late 50’s. He drove the school bus to Fountain Ferry Skating Rink on Friday nights for a small fee and watched after we girls like he was our dad.

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    • Interesting! I’ve seen similar posts about Stanley, specifically with regard to the fact that he was a school bus driver. It seems this family owned quite a bit of land in the latter half of the last century. If nothing else, they are all well-remembered and well-loved by those who knew them.

      Stanley (born 1912) was actually Dr. Hicks’s son, the brother of John Hicks Jr (born 1924).

      Like

    • Hi. Wondering if you could answer question about house. I was told that the nurses or the doctors from Waverly Hills also boarded at this house,

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      • I’m not sure how your comment slipped by me for over 6 months, but I apologize for the delay in my reply!

        I have not seen any definitive evidence from census records, public directories, etc. that show Waverly Hills staff boarding at the Hicks house, though it wouldn’t surprise me if that did happen at some point given the proximity between Waverly Hills and the Hicks house. The sanatorium closed in 1962, so the Hicks family would certainly have been taking boarders during Waverly Hills’s operational years.

        Again, I can’t confirm anything on this point, but it is very possible that Waverly Hills staff boarded at the Hicks house.

        WW

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      • My family lived on that hill for many many years. My aunt Carolyn lived in that house. The gravel road that goes to the left of that driveway went to my grandparents house that was tore down in 1983.y aunt Carolyn can tell you about the Hicks family. She rented from them

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  3. My mother always told me that there were two houses that she knew of up in the woods and the house on Dixie would make the third. She thought that one of the home up in the woods behind Timothy Hills burned down and as of now the other house formerly owned by Dr.Hicks is inhabited. The owner of that house, owns the house on Dixie as well unless he sold it off. But I know for a fact he still lives up the hill in the woods with his family.

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  4. I live right across from that house and as a lil kid me and my brother and sister used to walk up there thinking it was so cool that house is so pretty and at one time I did notice tools and things that seems to relate to a doctor it’s very creepy and the balcony is very dangerous the spirit stairs deffently set off as a very older house . some one should deffently build it back up and put it back together very big and pretty that house will always be a child hood memory 🙂

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  5. There was another house right past that they also rented out. It was a dark green color with white wood strips making it striped. My cousin and his wife rented it at one time. I think that one burned down. The other one was apts. at that time. This was the early to mid 60’s.

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  6. There was a young man that went to Pleasure Ridge High School his name was John Hicks. I do believe he lived there. John graduated in 1967. Do you have any information about this young man?

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  7. My late husbands family lived in all of these houses at one time or another, 1970’s. The first house was the little green house that sat back and to the left of the big white house. It was a one bedroom house that my husband and his parents lived in when we met. My sister in law and her family lived in the bottom of the big white house where they raised their family. There was also another house down the gravel road from there where at one time my husband and I lived with his parents, this was a big brown house with six rooms and a great room. The small green house was burned down after my in-laws moved out of it, because of its age there was no way they could rent it out again. The big brown house was also burned down after my father in law passed away and my mother in law moved in with us. I do have in side pictures of both houses.

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    • Hi Karen,

      Thanks so much for your comment! It’s interesting to hear from someone who has knowledge and photos of the other homes that were at one point on the property. At this point, I have only been told of them in vague detail. Would it be possible for you to post the photos you referenced in subsequent comments?

      Thanks!
      WW

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  8. I lived there in the early 2000. It was the main Apartment on the lower floor. Looking in from the porch at the Grand staircase. The door to the left. That was basically my living room.Then the 2 adjoining rooms were used as just rooms..Under stair storage… then around to the hall to the 2 bathrooms and kitchen. THE blue room was the master bedroom.
    I may be able to find pics of us in there if you are ever interested.
    Rick

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    • Hi Rick,

      Thanks for your comment! If you were able to find pictures and upload them in a reply to this post, that would be fantastic. It’s good to know a little more about the house from your description! The blue room you describe as the master is still stunning all these years later.

      Thanks again!
      WW

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  9. I went to school at PRP in the 70’s with a girl who lived there. Don’t recall her name. I remember the bus letting her off at the driveway.

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  10. Around 1965, I dated John Howell Hicks III. John lived in the more modern house at the top of the hill. I was in that house and recall that it was very nice. I seem to remember a fireplace that that maybe faced the kitchen on one side and the living room or family room on the other side. John told me at the time that his grandparents lived in the large older white home at the bottom of the hill. I recall that John had a sister named Kevin Hicks. John and Kevin would have been the children of John Hicks, Jr. I never knew what became of Kevin, but knew that John became a physician and practiced in another state. I was saddened to see his obituary in today’s The Courier-Journal. The obituary made no mention of any family members. RIP, John.

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  11. I lived in this house from 2001-2004. We were the last people to live in apt 3. I hate to see the condition of this place now. It was so beautiful.

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    • Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for commenting! It’s always interesting to hear from former tenants of this old beauty. It really is a shame how it’s fallen into disrepair. Perhaps at some point in the future, someone restore this house to the treasure it once was.

      ~WW

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    • Brittany,

      Glad to read that Mr. Hicks was your grandfather. Do you have any idea why the big white house was abandoned? Seems like it would have been a valuable piece of property. And whatever happened to the house at the top of the hill? I was there with John and Kevin and their parents a couple of times. I was sorry to recently read that John has passed. He was an extraordinarily good person as a teenager; I imagine he was that way throighout his life. Sincere condolences to all your family for this loss.
      Anyway,if you are inclined to answer, I would love to know what happened to the two houses.

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  12. My Aunt Robbie wrote this…
    Hi, I’m Robbie S. Hicks Frady.
    I’m the oldest granddaughter of John H. Hicks Sr.
    My dad was Stanley W. Hicks, Dr Hicks oldest son, there were, 3 living children.
    We lived 3/10mi north of the big house, our road ran parallel with the railroad.
    I’m (NOT) good at typing and or type talking. If you want more info or anything just message or text me, Robbie Frady.

    Like

    • Does anyone else remember the big lighted cross on the hill where the Hicks family lived? I can’t remember the color, probably blue or red. It was very eye-catching! I know John Hicks, Sr.was very religious. Does anyone else remember the cross?

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  13. Mrs. Frady, so nice of you to have your neice post a reply. You may know that I posted that I was in the house at the top of the hill when I was in high school and remember some things about it. I was friends with John III. He would have been a high school senior in 1967. I remember passing the big white house on the way up and down the hill when I visited John’s family at the house on top of the hill. And I remember John’s sister Kevin. I just have 3 questions, if you do not mind me asking. They are:
    (1) I was genuinely saddened to see John III’s obituary in The Courier-Journal. It sounded as though he was practicing medicine in California. My question is “What happened to the rest of the family? Mr. (John, Sr. — right?) and Mrs. Hicks, Kevin and any other siblings?
    (2) What became of the house on top of the hill?

    (3) I saw the pictures of the big white house part way up the hill. It was obviously lovely at one time. How did it end up abandoned?

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  14. I believe the actual address is 9101 Dixie Highway. It’s a shame that it has gone into such disrepair. It would make a great house looking over Dixie Highway. Especially with the acreage. Wish someone would buy it and either restore it or even build something brand new. You hate to lose history with replacing it, but it’s going to need more work than most folks can do! Thanks for the pictures.

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  15. When i was a teenager I went to a church at 10th and oak street it was built by oak street baptist Church. They sent over a song leader named John Hicks He later built the brick house at the top of the hill behind that house I was wondering why he picked that location to build. I think this answers that question for me, I also believed he was the one that had the cross there.

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  16. She might kill me but… We are a family full of joksters! LOL… If you want more information on the Hicks house, you can reach Robbie (John Howe Hicks Sr.’s granddaughter) here…
    https://www.facebook.com/robbie.frady.37
    That would be the quickest way to get an answer. Make sure you tell her Chris Hicks sent you!!! That’s my brother… I’ll let him take the blame! Haha… Make sure you play along! Don’t rat me out!

    Like

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