Indian Hills is a home rule city of Jefferson County in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as authorized by the state legislature (KRS 081.005).
The present City of Indian Hills was formed in 1999 as the result of a public referendum held in the contiguous cities of Indian Hills – Cherokee, Indian Hills – Country Club, Robinswood, and Winding Falls.
Following is a brief historical perspective on one of the four cities that merged to become Indian Hills.
Indian Hills – Country Club
“Indian Hill Farm is a fine tract of rich, rolling land, with springs of the purest and best water bubbling up in the most convenient places on every part of it. The whole of it is down in grass, which is mostly bluegrass, though orchard grass is deemed worthy of no little attention. Indian Hill received its name in consequence of an event that took place away back in pioneer times. It was when there was only a fort to be seen where Louisville now stands that the savages to the number of three hundred encamped on and around the spot now occupied by Mr. Veech’s residence.”
From John Duncan, “Indian Hill Stock Farm” The Courier Journal, 14 December 1877
The history of Indian Hills-Country Club is colorful and appealing. Sometime before 1785, John Veech, born in Ulster, Ireland arrived by flatboat with his wife, Agnes Nancy Weir at the Falls of the Ohio. He was following his profession of surveyor, later buying Indian Hill farm, building a log cabin, and becoming known as a famous Indian fighter (along with one of his sons). His grandson, Richard Veech, made his reputation as a breeder for trotting horses which he continued until the advent of the automobile, when the property became a working farm with potatoes being the main crop. In 1924, 300 acres of Indian Hill were sold to a subdivision development syndicate and 200 acres to the Louisville Country Club. Both developments were designed by the Frederick Law Olmsted landscape architectural firm and incorporated his important design features, for which the “Father of Landscape Architecture” is most famous.
Indian Hill Farm originally was composed of 502 acres and was held in the Veech family for 118 years through six generations. In 1806, the Veech family carved their log cabin from the wilderness, then built a plantation house in the simple lines of the late Georgian style, to which they later added an addition in the florid style of the Victorian era. (Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the United States, owned a portion of Indian Hill Farm or adjoining land that would later be acquired by the Veeches for a 19 year Period – 1814 to 1833).
Around 1872, R. S. Veech bred trotting horses at “Indian Hill Stock Farm” and within ten years his operation was the second largest producer in the state of Kentucky. In an article by Agnes Veech Viser for the Second Presbyterian Church Bulletin, she writes, “He was best known as a distinguished horse breeder and the reputation of Indian Hill Farm spread. There were usually 50 to 60 brood mares on the farm. From 1878-1885 businessmen and horse breeders from the East often formed private car parties to visit Louisville before the Lexington Trot meeting. The horses were housed in a large barn situated about where Rolling Lane crosses Pennington in Rolling Fields.”
After the exciting horse breeding boom was past, the Indian Hill property was farmed, producing mostly potatoes, which were sold at the St. Matthews Produce Exchange, on the largest potato markets at that time. About 1911 Dr. Annie Veech, and her brother, James Nichols Veech, contacted the firm of the famous 19th century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park, to prepare a plan dividing the land into large plots of 10 to 15 acres each. World War I brought a suspension to further development plans by the Veech heirs.
Thirteen years later, in January, 1924, Dr. Veech sold 200 acres to the Louisville Country Club for its development and her brother, James Nichols Veech, sold 300 acres to a syndicate including I. T. Axton, R. S., J. K., and D. R. Reynolds, and Paul F. Semonin who divided the acreage as Indian Hills- “The Home Community Adjoining The Louisville Country Club”. The Olmsted firm designed the development plan, which incorporated the design features of the elder Olmsted’s early work. Those features include: “sweeping, curvilinear streets and gently rounded intersections which follow the natural contours of the hilly terrain. Every effort was made to save existing trees and preserve each site’s natural beauty, while suggesting the planting of additional native trees and shrubs to strengthen the romantic character of the property. Expanses of green space were left open, not only for its beauty but to promote a sense of community.” Continuing his respect for native species, Olmsted generally used “sycamores, maples, oaks, American Linden, redbud, and dogwood and shrubs like honeysuckle, mock orange, and barberry.” Their designs were known for the layers of plant material crowned by a canopy of stately trees. Beeches were plentiful on the original estate and in a large part of St. Matthews and Crescent Hill.