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What's This?

Oak Street through Old Louisville hasn’t been the same since the closure of the Rudyard Kipling almost two years ago. Known to locals as The Rud, the bar-restaurant-venue occupied the 422 West Oak Street site since the mid-1980s.

Founders Ken and Sheila Pyle sold the property in 2013 after years on the market. The new owners William and Amy Enix brought a tradition for Sunday brunch in 2014 to the space, but the space closed again in June 2015.

The old Rudyard Kipling is being transformed. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
The old Rudyard Kipling is being transformed. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

But construction is ramping up on the site’s next incarnation: a live–work–retail space that aims to bring new life to the street. Emmanuel Dumigron and his fiancée, Mia Snell, purchased the property for $350,000 this past March.

The new concept brings a new retail art gallery, a residence for Dumigron and Snell, and two work spaces to the site.

The retail space is called Obsidian. “It’s Mia’s baby,” Dumigron told Broken Sidewalk. Snell will sell her Dandelion Louisville line alongside other local artists and a few hand-picked from other states. The gallery will be accessed through a new entrance directly off Oak Street. Look for jewelry, lighting, painting, and furniture at the store. Obsidian will have its own work space managed by Snell.

The new facade of Obsidian. (Courtesy Urban 1, LLC)
The new facade of Obsidian. (Courtesy Urban 1, LLC)

“A lot of [Mia’s] art pieces are based on taxidermy and bones and nature,” Dumigron said. “In terms of the art, she is a little more on the darker side of things.” Obsidian is a black volcanic rock sought for its healing properties.

To the side, the old entrance to the Rud will be covered in iron gates, only to be opened during special events. The front facade will be painted in a neutral coat of paint.

The classic elephant-shaped sign above the side entry is in for some changes as well. “Landmarks has said we could take it down and put up new sign,” Dumigron said. “But we can’t legally change the shape.” The original plywood of the elephant is badly deteriorated. He said the new one would be more in keeping with the new shop. He expected paint colors of black, gold, and turquoise.

“We’re probably going to keep one of the originals for ourselves,” he said. But if you’re nostalgic about the old Rud, the couple plans to auction the other elephant sign at a special event in the future.

“We’re changing the zoning to mixed-use,” Dumigron said. That made fire barriers between the house and the front store more difficult. “Unfortunately for us, we have to separate the two buildings.”

An interior view of the front retail space under construction. (Courtesy Obsidian)
An interior view of the front retail space under construction. (Courtesy Obsidian)

Dumigron’s solution, working with Charles Cash at Urban 1, LLC, is to open up a skylighted atrium, creating an outdoor courtyard and water feature between the house and shop. The skylight structure will remain as a pergola. This intervention keeps the two halves united while giving the historic house some breathing space.

“Our residence is where the stage was—or where they did the Sunday brunch,” Dumigron said. The wide-open space will be converted into the house’s 2,200-square-foot living room perfect for entertaining. “Mia and I want to have four annual events held in the living room and courtyard.” A kitchen in the back with be defined by a nine-foot-by-nine-foot floating wall. Upstairs are the living quarters.

In the back of the property, Dumigron’s companies, Briton Bees and Broken Masterpieces, will have workshop space. He specializes in vintage British racing motorcycles from before 1963. “I deal with oddities,” he said. The shop will include a fabrication studio to remake lost parts.

Dumigron has fixed up buildings across the country from Asheville to Wilmington—to six structures in Butchertown. He started the Louis’s The Ton bar at Frankfort and Story avenues when he moved here from Asheville four years ago. He sold that operation to Isaiah and Angela Hoagland for $465,000 in March.

For now, keep an eye out for changes happening on Oak Street—Dumigron is wasting no time getting the project completed. “I should be done with the residence by the end of the month,” Dumigron said. “We’ll be living there by the end of the month.”

By the end of June, Obsidian should be open.

“We’re really excited about reviving this space and getting our feet into the neighborhood,” Dumigron said. “We want to see what we can move and shake down here and see what we can contribute. We have the potential to make some noise in a positive way.”

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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

6 COMMENTS

  1. Love to hear of people using their resources and creativity to bring what was old to a new life!!.

  2. The skylight above the entry lobby was a surplus piece of the skylight from the Galleria, which had just been completed at the time of the Rud’s original construction. The piece was obtained by the late architect Michael Koepper, who designed the Rudyard for Ken and Sheila Pyle.

  3. Hope others follow suit in revitalizing that important purlieu of Old Louisville. It has the potential for being one of the city’s most dynamic and preferred retail, office, dining, entertainment and residential districts.

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