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.