Mixed feelings about plans for historic Bardstown home


by Claudia Coffey


Posted on December 7, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 7 at 7:41 PM

(WHAS11) -- The historic home called Anatok was once home to the founder of the National Black Congress. Soon it will be torn down to make way for a school expansion despite the outcry from the community of Bardstown.

Anatok once stood as a grand Antebellum mansion, home once to the founder of the National Black Congress, Daniel Rudd, then to the Sisters of Charity then to a local preservationist.

Bethlehem High School which owns the property got the green light from the Nelson County Planning and Zoning Commission to tear it down. Principal Tom Hamilton says plans are to make it an extension of the school. Essentially it will look like an amphitheater.

"It's gonna be an outdoor classroom. A place where students can gather. We can have classes, we can have plays, we can have music, we can have prayer," Tom Hamilton Principal of Bethlehem High School said.

For the last seven years it has been vacant, used as storage, slowly deteriorating. Two years ago the school looked at options.

The school originally looked at ways to save the building but it was just too costly to refurbish it and convert it into classroom space. So they came up with a compromise to essentially use some of the historic elements in the new structure.

But not everyone thinks they are preserving enough.

"Well that's a joke. They are gonna spend $150,000 to save the foundation of it to make the amphitheater or whatever they are calling it, " Ann Rosalie Ballard a Preservationist said.

Ballard is one of many community leaders that have fought it every step of the way. She thinks the plan all along has been to tear it down.

"There is so much potential with that building and to justify tearing it down saying it was gonna cost too much," Ballard said.

Both sides do agree that it is a special place. Hamilton says he will work to preserve in some capacity even if its small.

"It is something that we have tried to do for the school, the mission of the school. But at the same time appreciating the history and tradition that's here " Hamilton said.

Residents can file complaints to stall the process, but at this point, plans are to tear it down to the foundation after Christmas and begin construction.

The project will cost $150,000 and take 90 days to complete.