Another historic building at Broadway between 13th and 14th Streets has been torn down. Located on the border between the Russell and California neighborhoods, the Parish House at St. Augustine Catholic Church was damaged in a fire in the Spring of 2008. After a weighty decision, Louisville’s oldest African American parish decided restoring the building would be too expensive.
The structure dating to 1912 would have required repair work “in excess of $90,000” according to the church. The photo above was taken about a year after the fire. The first floor was gutted and there was smoke damage in the building. The church waited to make a decision because of the historical significance of the institution.
It seems like the price tag on the renovations would be far cheaper than building any sort of new comparable building. The stately two-story structure didn’t appear to have any structural problems, but in the current economy, any expenses could be challenging. But did the Archdiocese not have insurance on the property to help out?
It’s a shame to see this one go. Here’s a little history about the church from the Archdiocese of Louisville:
Bishop William G. McCloskey appointed Father John L. Spalding, the nephew of Archbishop Martin John Spalding of Baltimore, to organize a parish for Black Catholics in Louisville in 1868, five years after the Emancipation Proclamation. On February 20, 1870, St. Augustine was established, and the new parishioners marched from the basement of the Cathedral of the Assumption westward to their new home at Broadway and 14th Street. A school was opened under the leadership of the Sisters of Charity in 1871. Later Josephites staffed the school.
The parish quickly outgrew its second church, which was dedicated in 1902. The current church property was purchased in 1911, and Bishop Denis O’Donaghue formally dedicated the present church on September 10, 1912. One Sunday Mass was celebrated weekly for the neighborhood’s white population until Sacred Heart Church was built in 1873.