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Louisville Metro gets $500,000 grant to rehab historic Bourgard building

Grants awarded by National Park Service to preserve civil rights history

LOUISVILLE, Ky.Louisville Metro Government receives a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service to help fund work to stabilize and rehabilitate the historic Bourgard College of Music & Art in Russell.

The college closed in 2017, and the city acquired the building at 2503 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. in 2020. The Bourgard College of Music and Art building is one of a few sites remaining in Louisville associated with the struggle for equal rights. Because of urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s, many historic African American neighborhoods were reshaped through the demolition of homes and businesses.

Louisville Metro will return the currently vacant building to use as a valuable community asset with a preference for uses that continue its original intent of creating art and music spaces for children. The project is being supported in full by a History of Equal Rights grant from the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

The grant will fund repairs to exterior masonry, the roof, chimney, gutters and downspouts, as well as the repair or replacement of interior walls and ceilings that have sustained water damage. Additionally, Louisville Metro will hire a preservation consultant to conduct further research on Bourgard College for an updated National Register of Historic Places nomination and to research the broader context of the struggle for equal rights in Louisville.

First used as a private residence, Caroline Bourgard purchased the building in 1927 and moved the Bourgard College of Music & Art there. Well-known across the state, Bourgard felt strongly that music should be available to every student and saw the discrepancies in the educational opportunities for African Americans. Bourgard College was the first art school in Louisville for African American children and helped produce many of Louisville’s most popular African American musicians.


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