Preservation Louisville discusses historic buildings (photo courtesy Joanne Weeter)
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Preservation Louisville announced their annual list of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Structures last week and added a new list to celebrate Louisville’s Top Ten Preservation Successes. The preservation group gathered in front of the Whiskey Row Lofts and Iron Quarter buildings on Main Street to announce the 2009 lists.

Here’s a little background on the most endangered list from Preservation Louisville:

A most endangered list is a preservation tool for recognizing sites with historic, cultural or archaeological significance that are directly threatened or in immediate danger of being lost. The Endangered Properties list has a long history in Louisville.  It was initially created by Preservation Alliance, and in 1999 the list was taken over by The Louisville Historical League. The list is now compiled and published by Preservation Louisville, Louisville’s citywide preservation organization since 2007.

This year’s endangered list includes several holdovers from years past that still remain threatened to some extent. New for the list, several broad categories of building type such as “shotgun houses” were added to draw attention to the general plight of a building typology. This classification was added as the group hopes to focus more on the buildings themselves than pointing fingers at specific buildings or people. Here are the properties the group feels are endangered this year:

  • Shotgun Houses across Louisville. Louisville’s collection of shotgun houses makes up 10 percent of the housing stock and represents the second largest assortment besides New Orleans. Currently, the majority of demolitions in the city are issued for shotgun houses.
  • Water Company Block Historic Buildings. This assortment of buildings ranging from an old parking garage to an Odd Fellows Hall has been on the endangered list since 2005. In all, five historic structures are threatened by the the Cordish Cos. plans to build a shopping and entertainment development called Center City as an expansion of 4th Street Live. The city currently owns all the buildings are will hand them over to Cordish in the future.
  • Victorian House on Frankfort Avenue. Another holdover from 2005, the house at 2225 Frankfort Avenue adjacent to Ginny’s Diner was in “decent, livable condition” as of 2000 but has fallen into drastic disrepair. It’s averted demolition once and is currently for sale by calling 502.797.8770.
  • Historic firehouses across Louisville. Making off-and-on appearances since 2006, Louisville’s oldest firehouses are deemed endangered as they are replaced by new facilities. The city has told us that they hope to find suitable private-sector use for at least some of the defunct stations.
  • Myers Hall / Old Dental School at Brook & Broadway. Built in 1918, the structure that once housed the Louisville College of Dentistry was in discussions a while back that could have resulted in demolition. U of L is planning to move remaining offices out of the building soon due to deteriorating conditions, but says it has no plans to demolish the building.
  • Park Hill district. The entire Park Hill district, once an industrial hub in Louisville, was listed last year but faces continued threats of demolition and deterioration as grand industrial buildings sit vacant. The city hopes to revitalize this area in the future and is currently studying how to move forward.
  • Corner store fronts across Louisville. Once the epitome of convenience to walk to the corner for daily necessities, many corner stores are vacant as retail has left for the shopping centers. Many vacant structures, once marks of community pride, sit vacant and deteriorating.
  • Historic properties within the proposed new bridge route. This old-timer has been on the list since 1999, and Preservation Louisville plans to keep it listed until plans for all affected buildings are resolved. One building on the corner of Jefferson Street and Jackson Street that would have been in the way of the bridge has already been demolished.
  • Iron Quarter buildings. Occupying the site of a proposed mixed-use development, the structures are in varying degrees of deterioration. Plans called for demolishing the buildings but leaving the facades, but the project has been put on hold for the time being. The group would like to see the buildings saved in their entirety, noting that a true preservation group must promote saving entire buildings, not just facades. Developer Todd Blue of Cobalt Ventures had no comment regarding the Iron Quarter buildings, but noted his dedication to preservation in Louisville in the past several years.
  • Ouerbacker House. The grand mansion was first listed in 2005 and briefly flirted with demolition last year after a portion of a wall buckled. Scott Kremer of Studio K Architects came on board to save the structure and fixed the caved in wall with help from a government grant. Renovation work hasn’t yet begun, and Preservation Louisville plans to keep the building on the list until an adaptive reuse proposal is funded. We couldn’t reach the developer for comment.

To promote historic preservation in the city, Preservation Louisville also wanted to draw attention to some of the success stories, creating a new list of saved buildings. One problem with beginning the new list from scratch, it seems, is that there is much more great preservation activity than can fit in ten spots. We’re not going to recount all the details of this list, but Preservation Louisville has written up each listing on their web site. More info on Corbett’s Restaurant can be found here and info about the Reynolds Lofts here. Below are the projects Preservation Louisville finds outstanding:

  • U.S. Marine Hospital.
  • East Market Street Wayside buildings.
  • Vogt Mansion / Lemon Galleries on East Broadway.
  • Henry Clay building.
  • Reynolds Building.
  • American Standard Building.
  • 1254 South Brook Street.
  • Howard Hardy House.
  • Corbett’s “An American Place” Restaurant.
  • 1702 Prentice Street aka Habitat for Humanity House.
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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

2 COMMENTS

  1. Why is no one taking action on the rob rexley va building. One of louisvilles greatest land marks. Over the last decade this hospital has been transformed to almost new. It is ONLY being relocated due to the enormous value of it’s property, displacing the veterans “once again” so that greedy investors can build more condos. Some one please…. Stop This !!!

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