CLARKSVILLE — Eleven historical Clarksville homes have been given special designation as being 100 years or older, part of ongoing efforts to celebrate the town’s history.
The homes were all built between 1874 and 1918 in the South Clarksville area, and feature a variety of architectural styles. The 10 homeowners — one person owns two of the homes — were recently awarded century plaques by the Clarksville Historic Preservation Commission.
Although they’re more of a designation only and do not include redevelopment tax credits, commission member Jim Kenney said recognizing the homes helps tell the stories of some of the town’s earliest residents, while providing a sense of place in the neighborhoods where the homes were built.
“I think the commission, their obvious objective is to preserve the history but it’s also to foster community pride,” he said. “We think by recognizing these homes it will create pride within the neighborhoods.”
Working with Clark County historian Jeanne Burke, the commission identified the first set of homes to be recognized, and Burke researched their history.
The oldest on the list are the Rauschenberger and Kalmbach houses, both in the 500 block of Riverside Drive near Ashland Park and both owned by Sharon Handy.
The Kalmbach House, what Burke describes in her notes on each of the properties as “a perfect example of an Italianate-style cottage,” has tall windows and is all brick, with large mature trees surrounding it. It was purchased in 1874 by Andrew Kalmbach, a blacksmith who worked at American Car and Foundry.
The Rauschenberger House next door is a two-story Italianate style, with four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a basement. It was purchased by John Rauschenberger, a German immigrant who served as president of City Brewing in Jeffersonville in 1895 and vice-president of the German-American Bank. The building was converted to apartments in the 1980s.
The Graninger House, at South Clark Boulevard and Stansifer Avenue in the Howard Park neighborhood, was built in 1903 by Joseph and Theresa Graninger, who moved from the Central Barren area of Harrison County.
This Queen Anne style home is the only one in the neighborhood, and stands on a small hill overlooking South Clark Boulevard. The Graninger family operated a small grocery in the area, and several of their children were involved in Clarksville politics. Daughters Katherine and Margaret lived in the home until their deaths; Katherine in 1960 and Margaret in 1981.
Becki Johnston-Butler and her husband Larry Butler are the Graninger House owners now, having purchased the property in late 2019 after moving from New Albany.
“I love the house,” Johnston-Butler said. “It reminds me of a house that I grew up in as a kid.”
It features large rooms, grand and butler’s staircases, a large yard and multiple porches. Johnston-Butler said she wanted to keep the historical features intact, and said she was excited for herself and her husband to be included in the first group of century-homeowners.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said.
The homes built in the 1800s are not the first that were built in Clarksville but Kenney said those — log cabins built in the 1700s and early 1800s in places platted by George Rogers Clark — have been destroyed because they were built in flood-prone areas.
It wasn’t until the Inter-Urban Railway that connected Clarksville, Jeffersonville, New Albany and Louisville that the town really started to grow with residential subdivisions.
Kenney said the historic preservation commission plans to add more homes each year to the 100-year-distinction.
“People that own vintage homes, they take a lot of pride in their homes,” he said. “And we just want to recognize that and make sure it goes further than the homeowner into the neighborhoods and into the rest of the town.”