The Bullitt County History Museum

Bullitt Memories: Glass House Restaurant

The following article by David Strange originally appeared in The Courier-Journal on 10 Jan 2012. It is archived here with additional information for your reading enjoyment.

A major factor in Bullitt County's history has always been transportation.

In pre-history through pioneer days, it was the Wilderness Road, which was really a series of buffalo paths through the wilderness, upon which humans followed.

And there has always been the Salt River, up which people would travel by boat from the Ohio River.

By the way, the Salt River is not salty. It was originally known as the Salt Lick River, because it was the primary route to get to the natural salt water licks in our area, a good source of salt being vital for survival of the Native Americans and early settlers.

Then came the L & N Railroad in 1855, steaming down through the center of the county heading to Nashville.

And finally, a hundred years after that, came The Kentucky Turnpike, eventually becoming Interstate 65 with its enormous, constant flow of trucks, cars, and people.

Which brings me to the primary factor in Bullitt County history.

Its people.

An interesting example of how Bullitt County people and transportation intertwine is the Kentucky Turnpike toll plazas and especially The Glass House Restaurant.

When the Kentucky Turnpike first opened in 1956 it was, as the name implies, a toll road. Locally, there were toll booths at the intersection of the Outer Loop in Jefferson County, at Shepherdsville in Bullitt County, and at Elizabethtown just south in Hardin County. The dime and quarter tolls paid by each car going through those stops eventually paid for the construction of the road.

But it also paid the salaries of hundreds of local workers over the years who collected those tolls.

Near the Shepherdsville and the Lebanon Junction exits were "Toll Plazas." Located between the northbound and southbound lanes, these plazas offered a convenient restaurant, gas stations, and (at the Shepherdsville plaza) even a motel to expressway travelers hurrying along their way.

The toll booths were closed in the 1970's, having long-since paid for the road, and the center-lane rest plazas were closed a bit later in the 1980's when it became considered unsafe to have such plazas located between the fast lanes as they were. The plazas were eventually wiped away with the expansion of Interstate 65.

Over those years, the plazas and booths provided so many jobs, both full time and summer, that it seems that nearly everyone in Bullitt County, or someone in their family, worked there at one time or another. The plazas in particular provided work for mechanics and attendants at the Marvin Douglas Gulf and at the Texaco stations, and room attendants and managers for the Bluegrass Lodge, and Quality Court motel. Many people worked their first jobs at the plaza. Some young people worked at the motels mostly for the chance to use the motel swimming pool.

But what people remember most fondly, workers and customers alike, are the Glass House Restaurants.

In a recent discussion on my "David Strange" FaceBook page, we had quite a flood of shared memories about this. People remember being or seeing the helpful waitresses, who wore crisp white uniforms with a little bow head-piece and a white or green apron (We have an apron and hat in our museum archives). A regular special was the little brown ceramic "bean pot" of baked beans, and the "Mile-High Pie" with its mountain of meringue on top. A couple of former workers told me that the staff members were only allowed to have a piece of the pie if the meringue fell; so, of course, there was an occasional "accident" with the pie.

Then there was the ever-present "lollipop tree," covered like a Christmas tree with colorful lollypops and a gigantic lollypop on top. I believe that nearly every boy and girl would beg Mom and Dad for one of those glorious, tempting lollypops, and wonder what that big one might be like.

It was a world and a time in which countless thousands of tourists, truckers, and locals all came together in one wonderful conglomeration of humanity. A little world of community that still remains in our memories.

And what a world, and what a memory, it was.

The following pictures should bring back a lot of memories.







Copyright 2012 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 01 Nov 2018 . Page URL: