City must save louisville gardens _ joseph gerth

The old Louisville Gardens is waiting for someone with the $40 million that city officials think will be needed to restore the building to the showplace that it was on New Year’s Eve of 1905 when more than a thousand people came to dedicate it.

It’s got too many memories, too much history, to remain as it is.

When it was built, it was a glistening new armory meant to house the First Kentucky Regiment. Poured concrete walls vs block cost It had housing for troops and veterans, a library, a rifle range in the basement, and a 123-foot-high drill hall.

In later years, the hall and its 6,000 seats saw Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys perform, cheered on hundreds of basketball games, watched President Harry S. Interior design concrete walls Truman and the Rev. Precast concrete blocks for retaining walls Martin Luther King Jr. Chalkboard paint on concrete walls speak, and witnessed untold other events.

Now, the building, on the National Register of Historic Places, sits largely empty, just as it has been for nearly a decade. Just a small portion of it is used to store things — many of them the ghosts of building’s past.

The ropes for the wrestling ring that once saw the likes of Jerry “The King” Lawler, “Superstar” Bill Dundee and “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant are there in the concourse. Decorative concrete walls photos Pieces of the old basketball court sit neatly stacked in the basement. Poured concrete walls vs concrete block The old pipe organ, with its well-worn bench and broken keys, still watches over the arena from the same perch it’s had for decades.

But there are no fans, haven’t been any for years. Concrete wall forms plywood The closest thing to a crowd it sees these days is the lonely security guard, spotlight in hand, who occasionally passes through to make sure no one who shouldn’t be there has gotten inside.

Jeff Mosley, Louisville’s director of economic growth and innovation, said the city wants the property redeveloped as an entertainment venue for mid-size crowds that are too small for the 22,000-seat KFC Yum Center and too large for the 2,600-seat Louisville Palace.

“Everybody in our shop is interested in trying to bring it back as an arena and a public gathering place,” said Mosley. Grinding paint off concrete walls “But it’s challenging because there is a hefty price tag.”

Two efforts to redevelop the building have fallen through over the past 15 years. Board formed concrete wall detail The Cordish Co., which owns Fourth Street Live, reneged on plans for an entertainment venue in 2012. Painting concrete block walls garage And two years ago, the city rejected an offer to develop it into apartments and retail space.

The city spends about $40,000 a year on utilities and upkeep of the building and had to replace part of the roof last summer when high winds sheered off about a quarter of the shingles and wood planking.

The cost of renovating the facility will likely be between $35 million and $45 million, Mosley said. Interior concrete walls Gate receipts, suite rental fees and naming and signage rights wouldn’t pay for such a renovation. How to pour concrete walls That’s why Mosley said the city is hoping to put retail shops or possibly a fitness club in other parts of the building.

Most folks who have been in Louisville for any length of time have fond memories of the old building. Concrete block retaining wall specifications My parents first date was to a hockey game there sometime in the 1950s. Forming concrete walls I can recall going to Kosair Shrine Circus there with my dad in the mid-1970s and to professional wrestling in the early 1980s with high school buddies.

When the contract to build the $450,000 building was awarded to Caldwell & Drake, a Courier-Journal headline dubbed the company as “the firm that does things.”

Indeed the company was a firm that did things. Insulating exterior concrete walls Three years earlier, it built the West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana, complete with a huge dome that remained the largest in the world until the Astrodome opened in Houston in 1965.

County fathers in 1905 voted to spend an extra $14,000 to put a stone facing on the front of the building to improve its looks. Foam form concrete walls They didn’t build armories often, they figured, and “for that reason, should not hesitate to erect a building that would in every respect be a credit to the city,” the newspaper reported.

Now, paint, loosened by time and water leaks, peels from the walls.

A stage in a second-floor black box theater creaks eerily when you walk across it.

Ceiling tiles in the main arena that were installed in 1962 to cover a new air conditioning duct system, are gone — some fell when the roof blew off and rain poured in. Concrete form walls Some were simply removed.

Mosley said construction of the Omni and other hotels downtown increases the need for a hall the size of the old Louisville Gardens and he hopes it spurs more interest in the old facility. Precast concrete fence panels price There’s interest in the building, he said. Concrete house walls He gives two to three tours a month to potential developers. Painting interior concrete block walls Still no takers.

Joseph Gerth’s column runs on Sundays and at various times throughout the week. Exposed aggregate concrete walls He can be reached at 502-582-4702 or by email at

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