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Henry Bickel Company collection

Identifier: 2018_067

Photographs, job files, clippings, and meeting minutes of the Henry Bickel construction company, 1905-1976, of Louisville, Kentucky.

There are 1218 photographs in this collection, spanning from 1905 to 1976, with the bulk of the collection (890 photographs) ranging from 1912 to 1940. All photographs were made in the city of Louisville. Photographers include: Hesse, Caufield & Shook, Joseph Smith Photographer (735 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY), Royal Photo Co., Courier Journal & Louisville Times. Photographs under 5 x 7 in are sorted in chronological order in Box 1. Photographs larger than 5 x 7 in, but no larger than 8 x 19 (folded), are sorted in chronological order in Boxes 2 and 3.

Newspaper clippings and documents range from 1914-1977, with the bulk between 1945-1977. Materials include job proposals, job receipts, catalogs, monthly newsletters from the Associated General Contractors of America, newspaper clippings from the Herald Post and the Courier Journal & Louisville Times. Clippings detail various projects of the Henry Bickel Construction Co., many of which are not featured in the photograph collection, including the paving of downtown Louisville streets. Materials are sorted in chronological order.

Job cards are duplicated and organized into separate categories, first in alphabetical order, then in chronological order. There are no dates on the job cards, only the job number, job name, recipient, or a short description of job.

Five minutes books covering 1905 through 1979 detail the founding of the Henry Bickel Construction Co. in 1905, Stockholders and Board of Directors meetings throughout the company’s tenure, and the process of liquidation of the Henry Bickel Construction Co. in 1979.


  • 1905-1976



3.5 linear feet (1218 photographic items in 3 boxes; 1 box of foldered newspaper clippings; 1 box containing 5 volumes of minutes; one metal box of job cards)

Biographical / Historical

The Henry Bickel Company was founded in 1886 and incorporated on January 6, 1905 by Henry Bickel, Jacob Bickel, Theo B. Bickel, George W. Bickel. The Henry Bickel Co. directly contributed to the development and modernization of the city of Louisville through their construction jobs. The first public work done by Henry Bickel was the grading of Southern Parkway, extending from the old Third Street Road to Jacob’s Park, now Iroquois Park, in 1888 (not pictured in this collection). The company laid hundreds of miles of water main and sewer lines and paved hundreds of miles of streets, built the approaches to the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge (known in the collection as the Louisville Municipal Bridge), and widened the Louisville & Portland Canal. It elevated the Louisville & Nashville, Pennsylvania Railroad, and Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Railway tracks in Louisville, eliminating dozens of grade crossings. At the beginning of World War II, it designed and built the huge Jeffersonville boat yards that turned out hundreds of landing ships. In the early 1970s, it did the excavation and shoring for the basement of Louisville’s tallest skyscraper, the First National Tower (not pictured in this collection). The Henry Bickel Co. was a family run business, passed down through the Bickel and Fischer families until 1979, when then president Paul Bickel, Jr. and board members decided to liquidate the company. They finished their last jobs in June of 1979. At the peak periods of the company, it employed over 700 people. Company offices, yard, and equipment were located at 435 Garden St, then 1020 E. Chestnut Street, and later at 425 W. Lee Street.

List of notable jobs: LG&E Canal Substation (1912-1913); widening the Louisville & Portland Canal (1913-1914, GC 704); Jackson Highway construction project (1920, GC 1127); Starks Building Addition, foundation constructors (1925, GC 1977); Grinstead sewer drain (1926); City of Louisville Incinerator (1927); Louisville Water Company Reservoir (1927, GC 2050); Louisville Municipal Bridge approaches (1929); Kentucky and Indiana Terminal Railroad underpasses (1930- 1931); Cardinal Hill Reservoir (1931, GC 2564); Louisville and Nashville Railroad underpasses (1936, 1940, GC 2758, 2901); Kaufman-Strauss Company Addition (1937, GC 2772) ; Pennsylvania Railroad underpasses (1939-1940); MSD Ohio River Interceptor (1957, GC 3897, 3899); addition to Jeffersonville Boat and Machine Co. shipyard (1944, 1969 GC 2981, 3030, 4489, 4496); Louisville Carbide plant (1942); Foundation reinforcement for Stewart’s Dry Goods (1947, GC 3135); Urban Renewal (1969, 1972, GC 4509, 4566); Avery-Brandeis Connector (1975, GC 4620).



Henry Bickel Company records
Cassidy Meurer
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752