807 EAST MARKET STREET
The Taj, beginning in 1999, evolved into an eclectic space populated with friends and family, musicians, antiquers, writers, revelers and just the plain ol’ curious. Bursting with forgotten relics, antiques, curiosities, architectural fragments, and to some, maybe just junk, this old place became an all-welcoming,lively neighborhood hangout known as Taj, as in Taj Maloney – much different than its grand namesake the Taj Mahal – but in its own way, no less interesting. Originally built in the 1840s in a thriving, primarily German neighborhood, its walls have played host to generations, housing various shops, a lottery office, a plumbing business and an antique shop. 2016 marks a new chapter with the debut of Taj Louisville which is sure to find its place in our city’s fabric. A brief history of those who came before follows:
1774 – 1820s
The property where Taj would be built was part of a 1000-acre Royal land grant given by King George III of England to Col. William Preston of Virginia for his service during the French and Indian War. Preston’s son, Maj. William Preston (1770-1821), and his wife, the former Caroline Hancock (1785-1847), inherited the property and moved to Louisville in 1815. Their son, General William Preston (1816-1887) inherited the property in 1821 and served in the Kentucky General Assembly, US House of Representatives, US Minister to Spain and as a Confederate army officer. Caroline Hancock Preston’s sister Julia married William Clark, co-leader of the Lewis & Clark expedition and brother to George Rogers Clark, the founder of Louisville. The town charter of the city, then part of Virginia, was signed by then Gov. Thomas Jefferson in 1780 and named for King Louis XVI of France.
1827 – 1860
Annexed by Louisville in 1827, Maj. Preston and his mother decided to subdivide their farm and sell lots. With German immigration fueling growth in the city, this area, then known as “East Louisville” as listed on E.D. Hobbs’s 1831 city map, would eventually be called “Uptown,” itself replaced by the names of our current neighborhoods, including Butchertown, and Phoenix/Nulu Hill. About 1848 Christoph Krauss purchased the Taj lot, then 361 Market Street, from Edward Stokes for $156. The building housed a shop on the first floor and a single family home upstairs. Successive owners included soap maker Moritz Schneider and his wife Catherine in 1850; real estate broker and City Councilmember Theobald Bentz and his wife Franciska in 1857, who sold it that same year to shoemaker Friedrich Walker and his wife Maria; and lard and oil manufacturer Christoph Doerr, a Bavarian native, and his wife Margaretha Zutt, who along with Franz Beck, an operator of a “leather and findings” concern, bought the building in 1859 for $3000. Hobbs’s 1831 Louisville Map
1860s – 1939
Records indicate that the building was converted into multi-family housing during the Civil War, likely to help accommodate the influx of Federal soldiers stationed in Louisville during this time period. Following the War, Louisville boomed with new residents, American and immigrant alike. Perhaps the most noted resident during this time period was Prussian native Johann Heinrich “Henry” Knabeschuh, along with his wife, the former Lizette Koch, and their 12 children. The Knabeschuh’s called 807 home from 1881 until 1890, moving after the death of Henry in 1889. Henry, a cigar manufacturer by trade, was also an accomplished musician and played the trombone in the Louisville Philharmonic, and later in the popular and widely known German orchestra led by Prof. Erhard Eichorn. Other residents included lottery agent Henry and his widowed mother Sophie; Charles Carlo,Sumser William Cardiff, Ira Vest, grocer Adam Schwarz, G.T. Breeding, W.A. Burmeister and Florence Ruddell. The Wade H. Tyler, Carrie M. and Leon Harlow groceries successively operated on the first floor.Rose The Beck family owned 807 until 1904, when Franz Jr. sold ½ interest in the property to James A. & Harriet M. Beers Maxwell on October 26, 1904. The Maxwell and Beers families had properties in both Louisville and New Orleans, and sold 807 to Henry and Caroline Scheirich, who in turn sold to George and Mathilda Frazee. Christoph Doerr, seated, with members of the Louisville Liederkranz, a German singing society, in 1865 Ca. 1986
1940 – 1999
Philip P. Gernert, a master plumber, next bought the property and operated his business from, and later lived on the first floor, while renting the upstairs apartments. After his retirement, Ann Smith purchased the Skaggs, building for $5000 in 1977 and opened Old Louisville Antiques, next door to her friend Elinor Maloney’s Old Market Square Antique Shop. Ann retired in 1996 to the Altenheim and in 1999 decided to sell the building, bought by Elinor Maloney’s grandson, Michael, who unknowingly unleashed all that became Taj.
2000 – 2016
Vacant for three years and with a threatened demolition by the city, 807 had deteriorated badly by the time Maloney purchased the property in October 1999. Overseeing an initial renovation, the entire façade, roof and fourth floor were removed and rebuilt, along with other upgrades. Encouraged by longtime friend Ken Blackthorn, Maloney agreed to collaborate with Todd Moore who sought to create a unique gathering space that would continue the traditions of Taj. Moore began extensive improvements to the ground floor in January 2014 that transformed the premises into Taj Louisville, a modern drinkery and saloon that recalls and embraces both Louisville’s past and future.