Seminary building, once scheduled for demolition, receives preservation award
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Presbyterian Homes and Services of Kentucky have received a 2004 Preservation Award from the Louisville Historical League for the “beautiful renovation” of the Gardencourt carriage house on the Seminary’s campus. The award was presented at the League’s annual meeting on January 18, along with awards to five more Louisville historical sites.
The carriage house, nearly a century old, was originally designed as a barn for the horses of financier George W. Norton, who had built the 1906 Gardencourt mansion for his three daughters. In 1946, following the death of the last sister, the 14-acre property was given to the University of Louisville for its School of Music, and later the Kentucky Opera used the facility.
Louisville Seminary has owned the Gardencourt property since 1987. In 1991, the Seminary completed a 3-year renovation project of the estate, including restoration of the formal gardens. The project was recognized with a Preservation Alliance Award that same year.
Sadly, after many owners and years of neglect, the carriage house deteriorated and required more than $1 million for repairs and renovation. The Louisville Historical League placed the carriage house on its list of the “Ten Most Endangered Historical Buildings in Louisville.”
By 1999, the unsafe condition of the decaying building forced the Seminary to consider demolition. Once the situation was publicized, an individual came forward with a plan to save the building. Half way into the project, funding for the $1.6 million renovation came to a halt, as the original benefactor was unable to complete the project.
In its search to find a solution for the lack of adequate resources, Louisville Seminary partnered with Presbyterian Homes and Services of Kentucky Inc. (PHS), in 2002. They completed the renovation as part of a 25-year lease agreement, and moved in May 2003.
“Our partnership with Presbyterian Homes through the renovation of the Carriage House project has provided a wonderful opportunity,” said Pat Cecil, Vice President for Finance who played a key role in establishing the union. “It has allowed the Seminary and PHS to weld aspects of each of our missions and through our Center for Congregations and Family Ministries has allowed us to jointly address issues of aging through co-sponsored conferences. It has also allowed us to further the training of our students by providing a ministry through the facilities operated by PHS. We are very excited about more collaboration in the future.”
Today, a flood of natural light fills the once dark rooms of the carriage house, its aging walls now redeemed by the work of caring for aging adults through the mission of Presbyterian Homes and Services of Kentucky.
The Louisville Historical League
is dedicated to promoting the appreciation and preservation of our cultural heritage and historic environment in the Louisville metropolitan area.