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.
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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