Cosmopolitan building on Third Street (National Register)
Cosmopolitan building on Third Street (National Register)
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Cosmopolitan building on Third Street (National Register)
Cosmopolitan building on Third Street. (National Register)

One of Louisville’s most unique buildings is up for auction. Located at 981 South Third Street on the corner of Kentucky Street, the Cosmopolitan Building sits on the border between the Old Louisville and SoBro neighborhoods and could one day serve as a major anchor for the currently precarious boundary condition.

Cosmopolitan building on Third Street (National Register)
Cosmopolitan building on Third Street (National Register)

The four-story Cosmopolitan Building was built in 1917 as the D.H. Ewing & Sons Creamery. Later in 1930, the company consolidated with the Grayson Von Allman Dairy Company to form Ewing Von Allman Dairy and by 1941 was producing 90,000 cases of canned milk.

Monumental stone neo-classical details adorn the front of the building while more austere details cover the Kentucky Street side. Inside, offices in the front of the building offer ornate woodwork and stone fireplaces while the rest of the building is generally utilitarian. For an industrial building, though, this example is one of the finest. Anyone know the architect?

In 1953, the 37,000 square foot building was converted to office use (and I believe that’s when the modern entrance was added to Third Street) and it’s been an office building ever since. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Now, the Cosmopolitan Building is up for auction in a Commissioner’s Sale set for Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 10:00a.m. at the Old Jail Building, 514 West Liberty Street. An appraisal shows the C-2 zoned building should go for about $745,000.

The building is in great shape structurally, with a reinforced concrete structure, but there are some mold issues in the basement and water damage on upper floors. Following an earthquake several years ago, a small portion of the brick parapet in the back of the building collapsed and was subsequently rebuilt.

So what would you like to see happen to the Cosmopolitan Building? Should the largest office building in the area remain commercial or add a mix of uses? Should those glass block windows on Kentucky Street go? Possible uses for the structure include commercial, retail, and multi-family residential options. Share your thoughts in the comments.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. If my memory serves me correctly, in the 50’s and 60’s this lovely building was the main office for Lincoln Federal Savings and Loan.

  2. This would make a great building for artist studios and classes. It reminds me of a building at Southern Illinois University that I took painting classes in. I’d loose the glass blocks though for regular windows if possible. I wish there was a place in town that had a lithography studio that was open to the public at a reasonable price.

  3. The loading dock on the North side would make a nice seating area for a cafe. Maybe make the first floor North side retail and have small offices on the south side. Floors two and up could be a mix of rental units and condos. Plenty of parking!

  4. looked at this building a little bit yesterday while having lunch at ollie’s trolley. good location, and an interesting enough structure that it got some brainstorming going. anyone know who prevailed at the auction?!

  5. Lincoln Income Life Insurance

    INSURANCE FIRM TO BUY 3RD AND KENTUCKY BUILDING

    Half-Million dollars will be invested in the building — $175.000 to buy the property and $325.000 to remodel it.

    The property now rented the the National Dairy Products Company, is owned by K.P. Corporation, a real estate holding company of which Louis Koch is president and Coleman Petty is secetary.

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