Monday, July 8, 2013

Abandoned Ouerbacker Mansion, Louisville, Kentucky

Crumbling in western Louisville, the abandoned Ouerbacker Mansion is one of the most at risk architectural treasures in the region.  Built in the 1860s, this building is on the few remaining local examples of the Richardsonian Romanesque style. 

1980's photo of the Mansion, when it was being used by Holland Tax preparation service.  While it shows some minor wear, the structure was still in good condition at this point in time.  (photo from Library of Congress collection)
A similar shot in the spring of 2013.  While the neighboring house is still in good shape, every window of the Ouerbacker has been broken and partially boarded over.  Built for coffee merchant Samuel Ouerbacker (1841-1922), the building has a unique and beautiful stone facade.
A more detailed shot of the front doorway and porch.  Note the Doric columns supporting the roof.
The front porch is covered with these heavy glass-ceramic tiles, making a faux mosaic.  These seem to be a later addition to the house.
The plywood blocking the doorway has been replaced several times, the property being a frequent target of vandals.
Nearly every visible section of roof has decayed away, with some of the damage appearing to be fire related.
Even the steps have ornamental masonry work, with large cut stone blocks as well as what appears to be cast concrete details.
The stone archway on the right side of the house still exists, though it too suffers from neglect.
Piles of trash fill the rooms on the first floor, visible here through a broken window.  No effort was made to penetrate the house.
Because of the warm summer weather, ivy has overtaken the west side of the house.  The broken windows, gaping holes in the side of the structure, allow all manner of weather into the house.  It is unclear how much longer the house can survive this sort of treatment.  
Another view of the west side of the house.  While it is currently owned by the Ouerbacker House Restoration Foundation, Inc., a real estate broker in Cincinnati tried to sell the house a few years ago, without the owners permission it seems.
Another view, further from the back.  While the facade of the house is stonework, most of the structure is actually brick. 

The copper roofing on the turret roof is falling off, revealing its barrel-like construction underneath.
Located in the rear is this carriage house, surviving in much better shape.  It actually has a fairly new roof and minimal overall damage
A final historical shot from the early 1900s, with the Ouerbacker in the right background.  Once one building among many, the Mansion is today but a remnant of a forgotten past in the Russell Neighborhood, existing in its full glory only in memories and faded photos. (photo from University of Louisville collection.)


  1. Hi, I accidentally stumbled upon your blog. I loved it. Just wondering where this building is located? Do you know if it is up for sale?

    Also, I'm looking for old fire stations in the area. Do you know of any abandoned ones?


  2. Replies
    1. I guess you already know, but its 1633 West Jefferson Street. There are a lot of old firehouses in the Louisville area, probably 15-20, but I don't believe any are fully abandoned. The city sold a lot of them a few years ago, and I think one or two are for sale by their new owners. Here is a link to pictures of them:

      We may be working on a post about them as well....

  3. Really interesting, thanks for sharing it.

  4. Shame on Louisville for letting this house get in such a bad state...what a beauty .

  5. I found this entry after hearing a story on WFPL in Louisville. A local housing group has purchased this house and they are going to convert it into multi-family housing. The Russell Neighborhood in which is sits is a lower income area so a large single family residence is not viable. At least it's not being demolished!

    1. This is good to hear. A lot of work will need to be done to get it in livable condition, but I'm sure its possible. That it is being turned into apartments isn't a bad thing, at least it will be preserved somehow.

  6. Hi
    I started reading your articles after stumbling across a picture on pinterest.
    I love reading the history of the places you feature and what it inspires in my imagination.
    Hopefully more people will become aware of the beauty and workmanship of times gone.

  7. did part of the western face crumble recently?

  8. I had a chance to view the inside of the house two summers ago and it was quite creepy. There were so many floors, and the further you went up the more unstable it felt. Paperwork is strung everywhere. The stairs wind up the middle of the house with no railing, making it easy to fall. I got chills and didn't wanna stay too long (it was nighttime). It's such a beautiful house, but it's definitely not in any kind of condition to be fixed.

    1. That's a shame. I fully believe you, and I'm of the opinion that the house is a total loss at this point. I'd like to be proven wrong, but I don't see it happening.

  9. Do they allow ghost hunts in this house??

    1. Not to my knowledge. I haven't seen anything done with this house since we first visited it.