Home » KyCAD buys Speed Mansion in Old Louisville

KyCAD buys Speed Mansion in Old Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 13, 2018) — Reconnecting to a storied past for the arts in Louisville, KyCAD has purchased the landmark Speed Mansion on Ormsby Avenue to serve as its new home.

KyCAD reached an agreement last week with the building’s owner to acquire the 16,700-square-foot mansion and expects to begin moving in before the end of June.

“It’s an incredibly important day for KyCAD,” said KyCAD President Moira Scott Payne. “This beautiful building will be a place of creativity and learning. Students will love their new home. KyCAD will have a wonderful base for the research-focused, entrepreneurial art college we are building.”

Scott Payne said the location is strategic. “The culturally diverse Old Louisville community that will be our home is a special place that has a long history of supporting the arts. Music, dance and theater are routinely supported by this active neighborhood.”

“We’ll be close to Central Park, the Filson Historical Society, and the Speed Art Museum,” said KyCAD founder Churchill Davenport, who now serves as chancellor. “This is perfect!”

KyCAD had been searching for new space for the past year to accommodate its growth. After eight years with a host university, KyCAD decided in April to separate and pursue independent accreditation and independence, a move that accelerated the need for a new base of operations.

KyCAD will continue to use its current space at 849 S. Third St., which includes its 849 Gallery, classrooms, event space, and office space. Classes will be held in both buildings, but the open layout and concrete floors of the 849 Building are more suitable for sculpture, painting, installation and other activities. Administrative offices, design space, studios, and other uses are envisioned for the mansion.

KyCAD’s ambition is to create a world-class college of art and design, and this property is well situated to serve as the transformative cornerstone for a prominent urban campus.

For nearly 30 years the 48-room mansion, 505 West Ormsby at the intersection with Garvin Place, housed the law practice of Larry Franklin, one of Kentucky’s most prominent trial lawyers. Franklin passed away earlier this year, but to honor his great legacy, KyCAD will create a scholarship in Franklin’s name.

While commonly known as the Speed Mansion, the sprawling home was built and first occupied by home builder Dexter Belknap in 1885. Eight years later, James Breckinridge “J.B.” Speed—whose uncle, James, served as Attorney General for Abraham Lincoln and whose uncle Joshua was one of Lincoln’s closest friends—bought the home.

In 1906 J.B. Speed, a successful businessman, philanthropist and art collector, married his second wife, Harriet “Hattie” Bishop, a concert pianist, humanitarian and music teacher. Although J.B. died just six years later, Hattie Speed continued to live, teach and perform in the home for decades to come, adding a recital hall at the rear of the property in 1916. In 1925 she established the J.B. Speed Memorial Museum (now simply the Speed Art Museum) in honor of her late husband and his devotion to art.

KyCAD has partnered with the Speed Art Museum on some occasions, holding events at the museum and organizing annual student trips to the museum.

The mansion on Ormsby housed the Louisville Academy of Music in the 1950s and ‘60s, and the Louisville Youth Orchestra was formed there.