May is National Preservation Month and it appears Louisville is celebrating with a dozen attempts to tear down historic buildings. The latest is an historic mansion perched atop a bluff overlooking the Ohio River. Dating to 1830, the Rock Hill mansion (aka the Callahan House) at 405 Mockingbird Valley Road now finds itself in the crosshairs of the wrecking ball.
The original portion of the house was built in 1830 and later rebuilt in 1885 after a fire. A dramatic front porch with Doric columns faces the river. It sits on a 20-acre compound with several ancillary buildings including an old school house and a cemetery.
According to a C-J report, the owners say a rear wall has shifted and become unstable prompting the demolition request. The owners claim it would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to rebuild the wall and fix the house, money they aren’t prepared to invest.
Neighborhood groups and preservationists have mounted a campaign to declare the mansion a Local Landmark, but time is running out fast. A 30-day demolition moratorium expires today, but the owners said they don’t plan to demolish the property immediately.
The Mockingbird Valley Preservation Alliance and Preservation Louisville have been talking with the owners about the issue and circulating a petition for Landmark status requiring 200 signatures. You can download a copy of the petition to sign at Louisville History & Issues or contact Preservation Louisville at director (at) preservationlouisville (dot) org.
The unstable wall issue reminds me of the collapsed wall that threatened the Ouerbacker House on Jefferson Street in recent years. Studio Kremer Architects took the mansion under its wings and repaired the wall with a $100,000 grant from Metro Louisville. Perhaps this antebellum mansion can find a similar repair.
It’s also so close to I-71 that you can’t carry on a conversation outside.
It does appear to be about 500 feet from the highway from Google maps, but so do many bluff-houses in Mockingbird Valley and Glenview. Is this a common problem for these neighborhoods? Houses I’ve seen in the area that close to the highway haven’t had too much of a problem although the highway is somewhat audible.
Rock Hill’s proximity to I-71 notwithstanding, there was once a time when people proposed a somewhat similar demolition of Locust Grove
I live in a pre-1900 house in Indianola, a small neighborhood of Clifton Heights. In doing research of my house, I found that Warren Callahan who platted Indianola in 1910 and who owned my house, was a son of James Callahan of Rock Hill. I ventured up to see the mansion and was warmly invited in by the Stoll’s who owned it at that time.I understand that old homes are expensive to maintain but what a shame to lose that bit of local history. The Callahan family was interesting to research and Rock Hill is a vital piece of Louisville history.
Whatever happened to this house?
Just found this on accident, and I almost bought this house once. Ulysses S. Grant spent his honeymoon here.