Covington embraced principles of historic preservation to safeguard culture and community identity

When the news broke a few years ago that The Colonial Inn, a former Covington motel located at 1515 Madison Avenue, in the heart of the city was going to be shut down, there was not a lot of community outcry from the city’s residents. It had long since been considered an eye sore and a nuisance to the surrounding neighborhood. But representatives from the City of Covington government saw this building as a way to not only continue its mission of historic preservation, but also to provide much needed skills training for the residents of Covington.  

Historic preservation is not merely about maintaining old buildings; it's about safeguarding the stories, culture, and identity of a community. In Covington, this practice is embraced wholeheartedly, serving as a source of pride for its residents and a draw for tourists who come to appreciate the city's historical treasures.

“We’re going to skill up people so we’ve created a way to help residents obtain the skills that they need to do much needed work on our city’s historic buildings,” said Kaitlin Bryan, Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Covington. 

Covington is partnering with the Enzweiler Building Institute’s laboratory space located in Latonia, through their Covington Academy of Heritage Trades (CAHT) where students will learn the skills needed to restore older homes and buildings. Throughout the 13-week course, students learn to preserve the original features and historic significance while modernizing the building’s functionality. The students will then receive hands-on experience, putting to practice what they learn at the old Colonial Inn at 1515 Madison Avenue.

Covington boasts several historic districts, each with its unique character. MainStrasse Village, for example, showcases charming 19th-century architecture and cobblestone streets. The city's Licking-Riverside neighborhood, on the other hand, is home to elegant historic homes. These districts have benefited from zoning regulations that prioritize preservation, allowing the city to maintain its distinctive character. The city has given support to this innovative partnership, between business and government, to create a workforce trained in restoring these historic buildings.

“Outside of this partnership,” continued Bryan, “We have also invested in historic preservation by granting facade grants and grants to restore historic eclectic signage. In fiscal year 2022, we awarded twelve façade grants and our first historic electric sign. We have heard from the residents of the city that historic preservation is very important to them, and we share that thought. The residents want to protect the historic fabric of the city and we want to support them.” 

In fiscal year 2022, the City of Covington awarded twelve facade grants and their first historic electric sign.

Read more about it in the
City of Covington 2022 Impact Report

Covington stands as a shining example of a city that understands the intrinsic value of its history. From its well-preserved neighborhoods to iconic landmarks, Covington has embraced the principles of historic preservation, ensuring that the legacy of its past remains an integral part of its future.

Through community engagement and forward-thinking policies, Covington is writing the next chapter in its storied history.
  • Covington Academy of Heritage Trade's new semester begins the last week of September. 
  • Those interested in additional information may contact Bryan directly.
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Read more articles by Kareem A. Simpson.

Raised in the inner city of Covington, Kentucky, Kareem Simpson is an author, innovator, community enthusiast, military veteran, serial entrepreneur, foodie and lover of all things creative.