Douglass Community Center Fundraising to Save Historic Home on Property

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —  A century’s old home on the Douglass Community Center lot has served several purposes over the years but currently is not up to code for its intended use. The Louisville Parks Foundation and the Highlands-Douglass Neighborhood Association are teaming up in fundraising efforts to change that.

With a quick walkthrough of the building, it’s easy to see the beauty in the architectural detail. 

“What a jewel this is,” Louisville Parks Foundation president and CEO Brooke Pardue said.

Atop the fireplace sits a picture serving as a reminder of the home’s storied past. It was built in 1907 as a family home. In 1949, it became the Kentucky Home School for Girls. The city purchased the property in 1973 turning it into the Douglass Community Center as it is known today.

In 2014, the Douglass Community Center was first threatened with closure following a fire marshal inspection. That’s when Highlands-Douglass Neighborhood Association president Sherry Cornell first got involved.

“I’ve been working on this project for about five years when the center was first threatened with closure because it needed an integrated fire alarm system. We were able to have that installed, but it just faced one challenge after another until ultimately the historic home was rated that it does not meet modern code for assembly usage,” Cornell said.

Now, the house sits nearly empty other than small office space for Pardue. Storage boxes pushed to the corner serve as a reminder of how this house was once bustling with activity.

That home is not the only building on the campus. The Douglass Community Center still hosts a wide range of activities like yoga classes, summer camps and programming from Silver Sneakers just to name a few. That results in an estimated 2,500 visits per month. Now that the house is closed to the public, space is limited for those events and activities.

Metro Councilman Brandon Coan, the Louisville Parks Foundation and the Highlands-Douglass Neighborhood Association are teaming up to raise $150,000. That’s the estimated amount needed to renovate the building to open the first floor back up. The eventual goal would be to have the whole home open to activity once again. 

“It’s just such a beautiful home,” Pardue said. “If everyone came together in even a small way, we could continue to improve our public parks and recreation facilities.”

Those interested in donating can do so on the Louisville Parks Foundation website. If the group meets the fundraising goal, Pardue said she hopes to open the first floor of the home back up again sometime this year.