When renovation work began on an historic commercial building at the corner of Broadway and First Street last month, frantic tipsters and demolition-weary preservationists wondered if Louisville had lost another one. This time, however, the story has a happy ending, as the one-story terracotta-clad structure at 100 East Broadway is being reborn as a theater arts complex for the Jefferson Community & Technical College (JCTC) across the street. “This property is among 11 parcels along or adjacent to South First Street that the college purchased in 2011,” Lisa Brosky, vice president of college advancement at JCTC, told Broken Sidewalk in an email. She added:
The college worked closely with state preservation officials when evaluating the future of the property. It was determined that it was historically significant because it is among the last examples of retail space along Broadway from the 1920s and 30s. In that light and because the college prefers to preserve and restore whenever possible, it was decided the property would be the ideal home to our theater program, which had been housed in leased space.
The project is expected to largely wrap up by April or May, with finishing touches on classroom space to follow after that. The building previously housed a Cricket cell phone store, Michael Murphy’s pub, and a consignment store. Brosky said JCTC’s research shows that a grocery was likely housed in the space prior to 1937.
According to a Business First report, the Louisville office of design and construction firm Churchill McGee is working with architects and engineers at Godsey Associates Architects and Luckett & Farley. A raised roof will be installed over the theater area.
The reason for our tipsters’ concern is the extent of the renovation work that is taking place. To convert the building into a theater and classrooms for JCTC, crews have performed a rather extensive gut renovation, scraping the building’s interiors clean and removing a modern facade addition that obscured the historic building face. For a while there, it looked like the building was being taken down.
“When complete, most of the building’s external architectural features will be preserved,” Brosky said. “The facade will feature large glass panels, which will be held between the tile and brick columns.” The $1.7 million renovation will also restore the building’s clay pot roof, ceramic tile and brick walls, and small bubble glass windows that line building just below the roof line.
The building is at least newer than 1927 as the view below, taken that year, shows the southeast corner of First Street and Broadway as a mix of buildings. According to a caption from the University of Louisville Photographic Archives:
On the southeast corner of Broadway and First Street in Louisville, Kentucky stands the Frank Aufenkamp Delicatessen. A sign painted on the side of the building indicates groceries, bakery goods, lunches, and fruit are also sold. To the left is a Piggly Wiggly grocery store with two signs with the number 9 posted in the window. Next door is the Kennedy-Shrader Co. which also has a sign painted on its brick wall… Utility poles, a street lamp, a fire hydrant, and a water fountain are also visible along the street.
Imagine that, public drinking fountains along Louisville’s sidewalks?