1500 Bank Street (BS File Photo)
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You won’t find another example like it in Louisville, or likely anywhere else in the world. This two-story commercial building at the intersection of Bank Street, Rowan Street, and 15th Street in Shippingport was once planned for demolition but a group led by Gill Holland and his wife, Augusta Brown Holland, has saved the property and plans improvements.

1500 Bank Street (BS File Photo)
1500 Bank Street. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Situated on the acute end of a triangular block, this structure dating to 1888 has been sitting vacant for years. When Gill learned of its proposed demolition, he quickly purchased the property, closing only three weeks ago. He said the quirky structure has long been one of his favorites in Louisville, and we would have to agree.

Gill brought on Shine Properties to help with the first phase of the renovation which involves gutting the decaying interior. Gill recalled the building “was such a mess inside,” filled with old doors, 1950s push lawnmowers, and Playboy magazines from the early 1980s. Everything had to go so you could simply walk around inside and evaluate its potential.

Matthew Gilles of Shine Properties said work on the initial phase should wrap up by the end of next week and brainstorming for the structure’s future can begin. Gill Holland has plenty of ideas in mind for the 1500 Bank Street building, but nothing final. He envisions the building as a “gateway to Shippingport” and hopes it will spur investment in other buildings in the area.

Shippingport has been the target recently of a University of Kentucky student project imagining future development for the neighborhood and we took a photo-tour of the area shortly after that. Also located on the block are several sturdy brick shotgun houses and a two-story townhouse, currently boarded up. Improvement in Shippingport will likely begin with these smaller buildings before the large warehouse district is redeveloped at 15th and Lytle streets.

Whatever form the building takes in the end, it’s most important that there’s new investment coming to Shippingport. Gill said the building will keep its white paint and could eventually have a curving glass storefront installed on the first floor currently covered by non-historic stone. Little is known of the structure’s history, but it has started a new chapter this week.

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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. What a fascinating building. It cries out for a story, for visual closure: is its tentative, suggestive shape the result of a long lost context? What truncated gesture is it making? As haunting as the vestigial arms of the Venus de Milo, in a gritty way.

    Gill Holland deserves our thanks… again and again.

  2. Thirty-one years ago, when "Shippingport" was still East Portland or Portland Extension, and the Portland Museum was still housed at Roosevelt School on 17th street, this building was a favorite of ours and of the children who lived near by. We included it on our first neighborhood walking tour map. More recently, a gentleman came to the museum and told us that his family lived there above the grocery store they ran. Beneath the permastone I suspect there is the old store window frame. I'll have to look up his name. Everyone in Portland is trilled that this wonderful structure is now safe.

  3. I have loved this building since I moved to Louisville 10 years ago. I commend Gill Holland on saving it and recognizing that there are treasures all over our city. I bought and renovated a unique building blocks from there in Portland, 2 years later I discovered that it was built by Authur Loomis, the architect behind the Speed Art Museum, Carnigie museum in New Albany, IN and the Levy Building in downtown Louisville!

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