LIGHTING/History shines in commercial district update
Henderson, Ky., has renovated its Commercial Historic District, introducing new retail and restaurants, and making the area more pedestrian friendly. As part of the project, the city replaced existing streetlights with “period” fixtures that enhance the district’s historic and aesthetic appeal.
Established in 1797, Henderson is a small city with a big history. The city’s proximity to the Ohio River ensured its destiny as a tobacco exporting center in the 19th century, and residents of the prosperous hub built homes and other buildings that, more than 100 years later, stand as architectural attractions.
Visitors have more than architecture to interest them, however. Henderson is home to Central Park, the oldest municipal park west of the Allegheny Mountains, and it is the former home of John James Audobon and “father of the blues” W.C. Hardy. The Audobon legacy is especially commanding; the John James Audobon State Park & Museum, located in Henderson, houses the world’s largest collection of Audobon memorabilia, original drawings and paintings.
Because of the city’s historic heritage, Henderson officials face potential conflict when undertaking revitalization efforts. That was the case in 1998, when the Downtown Henderson Project (DHP) began planning renovations for the Commercial Historic District.
With money from the governor’s Renaissance Kentucky program (an initiative that provides assistance for downtown revitalization projects), DHP planned to create an entertainment district that would attract residents downtown. As part of its efforts to update the district and make it more pedestrian friendly, the agency specified new lighting to replace existing cobrahead fixtures.
Julie Martin, executive director for DHP, researched Henderson’s lighting options by traveling to several cities and looking at their lighting. With approval from the Kentucky Heritage Council (which must approve plans involving Kentucky Renaissance funds), DHP selected luminaires featuring glass globes mounted on 12-foot, cast-aluminum, octagonal, Victorian poles.
“Early on we decided to use luminaires with glass globes,” Martin says. “Even though the glass was more expensive initially, we felt that we would be happier with its appearance and performance over the long term. Glass is brighter and cleaner and will not yellow like acrylic.”
Henderson installed more than 170 luminaires along four streets and approximately 20 along the riverfront. “They are historically styled, and they complement the buildings in the area, which were constructed during the late 1890s and early 1900s,” Martin says.
Supplied by Newark, Ohio-based Holophane, the single-head luminaires are spaced about 62 feet on center. They house 175-watt super metal halide lamps, which are illuminated from dusk until dawn, and they are controlled by a photocell. Banner arms allow the city to display triangular-shaped banners, and electrical outlets at the top of each fixture accommodate holiday lighting.
Merchants, as well as residents, are pleased with the new lighting, Martin says. Henderson is responsible for maintaining the luminaires, and the city has applied for a grant to install additional fixtures in other areas.