City working to save historic property in jeopardy of being razed

City works to save historic home in West Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Metro City officials are taking a second look at a vacant and abandoned property in the Russell neighborhood that was set to be demolished within the next week. The property, located on Muhammad Ali Boulevard is marked by the Kentucky Historical Society, but now it’s future is uncertain.

Neighbors describe the Russell neighborhood home as a decrepit danger zone.

"You have to do something. Something has to be done," John Black, who owns property nearby, said.

Ornate details decorate the outside of the abandoned home.

It once belonged to Willis Cole, a man known for breaking the boundaries of segregation within the city. When he died, Cole left the property to his descendants, who haven't been able to maintain it.

"We've been watching it, we knew it was starting to be in some state of disrepair, and in fact, our urban design team had even applied for a few grants to get some money to stabilize the structure,” Director Vacant and Public Property Laura Grabowski said.

As it does, time got the best of the house. The decoration that once made it a beautiful building, began to fall. Wednesday morning the roof caved in and the fire marshal said it had to go.

The house was put on the emergency demolition list, meaning it would be bulldozed within a week.

"It’s a historic house and we certainly don't want to see it go,” Grabowski said.

So, city officials said they brought multiple teams together to try to make a plan. Moving fast, they were tasked with balancing the historical significance with the cost of saving it.

Within hours, they made the decision that they would try to stabilize the home.

“We feel it warrants taking a second look and making the effort push to acknowledge the significance of his contributions to our community,” Director of Redevelopment Strategies Jeana Dunlap said.

City officials said the coming days will be crucial as they decide whether the hero's home can be salvaged as part of Louisville's history.

They said it comes down to cost and safety, as they work to keep it fiscally reasonable to stabilize the house while also ensuring everyone who lives nearby will be safe throughout the process.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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