As early as 1830, wealthy business and professional leaders built large stylish homes along Green, Walnut, Chestnut, and Broadway between 1st and 7th streets. These homes accommodated carriages and included servant’s quarters. As commercial development moved into the residential downtown district, the city’s elite moved south of Broadway in the 1860s. The property on which the Brennan House sits is part of the downtown residential district; however, it had never been developed.
Following the end of the Civil War in 1865, Louisville, like many other urban areas, saw many affluent residents moving away from the city center. In 1868, when F.S.J. Ronald bought his property on 5th Street it was considered a suburb of Louisville. The suburb was known as Bustard’s Subdivision. Most residents occupied large two and three-story homes, which were frequently designed by the city’s local architects with modern utilities and fashionable styles. In addition to the number of wealthy whites, African Americans and poor whites also lived along the area’s alleyways and small enclaves.