Ruby Hyde, Toya Flanagan and grandchildren | Photo by R.C. Webber
Ruby Hyde, Toya Flanagan and grandchildren at the headstone dedication in 2015 | Photo by R.C. Webber

Smoketown is one of Louisville’s oldest historically African-American neighborhoods, and last year, it celebrated 150 years. Members of the Smoketown Neighborhood Association, along with other neighborhood organizations, decided to put together a photo exhibit depicting its long history. The ensuing exhibit briefly was displayed at St. Peter Claver Church a few months back, but now it has found a new home for the month of January at the Wayside Expressions Gallery.

“Smoketown 1865-2015” features more than 30 black-and-white photos gathered from BoxRec.com, the Housing Authority of Louisville, U of L’s Photographic Archives, and various Smoketown families.

Fred Stoner with Muhammad Ali | Courtesy of Housing Authority
Fred Stoner with Muhammad Ali | Photo courtesy of Housing Authority

R.C. Webber, director of development for Wayside and president of the Smoketown Neighborhood Association, helped coordinate the exhibit. He tells Insider the photos include four generations of the Hillerich (baseball bat) family; Pee Wee Reese; a descendant of Sylvester Weaver; Fred Stoner and two of his students (Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Ellis); a deceased gentleman who lived to age 102; and many others.

“The most surprising thing to come from the exhibit was that the 102-year-old’s death certificate led me to information about the family whose name he adopted, probably his former owners’, after the 13th Amendment outlawed chattel slavery,” says Webber.

A reception featuring prominent Smoketown figures will be held on Sunday, Jan. 17, from 2-4 p.m. Webber says some sisters from Ursuline and alumni from St. Peter Claver Church’s Parochial School will be there, and a Smoketown native will give a brief presentation on the Roman Catholic presence in the predominantly Protestant neighborhood.

The reception is free and open to the public. The exhibit continues through Jan. 31. Wayside Expressions Gallery is located at 120 W. Broadway inside Wayside Christian Mission’s Hotel Louisville.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."