Vienna Building and Restaurant
"At one time the most elegant and sumptuous restaurant in Louisville, the Vienna Restaurant, is a very rare example of
the Art Nouveau influence in Louisville. ...Date of erection: Circa 1905. It is known that the restaurant, which was founded in 1893, was initially housed in a pre-1893 building, before its move to its circa 1905 building at 133 S. Fourth Street. Photographs of the interior taken circa 1906 show it in its finished state. The earliest known photograph of the exterior dates from 1913. [The photo above actually dates from at least 1910.2] It is probable that the facade uniting the two buildings was erected sometime after the consolidation of the property between 1907 and 1913."1
"Historical Context: The Vienna Restaurant was one of the city's most elegant restaurants. Opened in 1893 as the Vienna Restaurant and Bakery by Frank Erpeldinger, a native of Vienna, it was host to both residents and visitors to Louisville. Following the death of Frank Erpeldinger in 1925, the restaurant was sold to a Chicago firm in January of 1927... .
The front facade of this three-story commercial building boasts a rare form of Art Nouveau style. The walls are faced with colorful ceramic tile with contrasting, light-color terra cotta trim used on the window enframement and roof elements. Colorful stained glass panels above the large clear glass windows on the first floor further enhance the building. A vertical sign that
reads "Vienna" is above the central main entryway. It is also faced with ceramic tile and terra cotta trim. The simple glass double doors of the main entryway and a balustrade atop the flat roof are among the non-Art Nouveau elements. Inside the building is dark stained woodwork that trims the walls, ceilings and doorways."1"The borders are of white enamel terra cotta, and the background is of faience tile, the color being yellow green--sometimes termed 'pleasing' green. It has a dull or flat finish, ... . The panels, also of faience tile, are in the natural fruit colors... ."2
Materials Used/Technical Information (size, manufacturer, etc.):
"The exterior is of enamel terra cotta and faience tile, the latter being the product of the well-known Rookwood Pottery Company, Cincinnati, O. ...The work was done by the Alfred Struck Company, and the tile was furnished by the Hegan Manufacturing Company, both of Louisville."2
The building facade and interior were remodeled in 1910 by Joseph & Joseph, architects.
Year Installed, if different:
Does Installation Still Exist?
No. The building was demolished in 1982 after being the headquarters of the Democratic Party since the 1950s (renamed the Brennan Building).
Location of Installation:
133-135 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY
Additional Information, Websites, Citations:
1. Historic American Buildings Survey, Vienna Restaurant (Brennan Building), HABS No. KY-153, Arbogast (1974), David and Susan McGown (1981), Historic American Buildings Survey, National Architectural and Engineering Record, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
2. Brick, Volume XXXIII, No. 1, July 1910, p. 18.3. Image: ULPA 1984.01.005 in the Joseph & Joseph Collection, University of Louisville Photographic Archives, Special Collections, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. (http://digital.library.louisville.edu/u?/kyimages,182)
4. Image ULPA 1984.01.062 in the Joseph & Joseph Collection, University of Louisville Photographic Archives, Special Collections, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. (http://digital.library.louisville.edu/u?/kyimages,136)
5. Image ULPA 1984.01.064 in the Joseph & Joseph Collection, University of Louisville Photographic Archives, Special Collections, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. (http://digital.library.louisville.edu/u?/kyimages,138)
"Joseph & Joseph's work seems to have been the addition of terra cotta tiles, created by Cincinnati's Rookwood Pottery, on both the façade and in the interior. Exterior tiles spelled out the name "Vienna" in polychrome representations of fruit and flowers. Similar decorative tiles adorned interior surfaces and uniquely designed flooring tiles were used throughout. This interior scene of the Vienna Restaurant shows a wood and tile bar with bas relief tiles depicting grapevines, carved cherub heads, and foot rail. Tiling appears above and to the sides of the bar's mirror as well as on the floor."3
"The bar of the Vienna Restaurant is shown including some small tables. The bar is made of wood and tile with a brass foot rail. The foot rail has spittoons strategically located along it. Behind the bar is a large mirror and a selection of liquor and glassware. A register is behind the bar and a clock hangs on the far wall."5