Statement | Washington, DC | December 8, 2023

Statement from the National Trust for Historic Preservation Regarding the Odd Fellows Building, Louisville, KY

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is deeply disappointed that the Kentucky Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court ruling and upheld the Louisville Metro Council’s decision to remove local landmark status for Liberty Hall, also known as the Odd Fellows building. The court’s decision opens the door to demolition of this historically significant landmark. Built in 1897, Liberty Hall is the last surviving example of a fraternal hall in downtown Louisville. It is an architecturally distinguished structure in good condition that has accommodated multiple uses over the past 124 years.

For several years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has worked with local preservation organizations in Louisville to support preservation and reuse options for Liberty Hall (as well as four other historic buildings on this block which have now been demolished). Rather than allowing demolition of another downtown landmark, the National Trust urges a collaborative, community-driven process to chart a new future for Liberty Hall that preserves Louisville’s diverse heritage and serves the needs of the community.

Liberty Hall is an irreplaceable historic asset that can be adapted to serve new purposes, including housing, which benefits the citizens of Louisville. The preservation and reuse of Liberty Hall will support the continued revitalization of downtown Louisville and retain architectural interest and human scale along an important entry corridor. National Trust research shows how Louisville’s older buildings provide unique spaces for local small businesses and other innovative uses that meet community needs.

Repurposing older and historic buildings for new uses reduces carbon emissions and supports the interconnected social, cultural, and economic health of communities. Some of Louisville’s most vibrant areas, including NuLu and West Main Street, contain a concentration of creatively reused older and historic buildings. Located near the edge of an otherwise vacant parcel, Liberty Hall could be integrated into a larger new development and complement nearby adaptive use projects that are underway or planned, without the significant environmental impacts associated with demolition. Developments that successfully combine new construction and adaptive reuse can be found in many cities, including projects developed by Omni Hotels & Resorts. Federal and state historic tax credits can help cover the costs of rehabilitation and adaptive reuse.

Downtown Louisville has lost many historic buildings in recent years. Rather than adding to the rubble, we believe that historic Liberty Hall can be reimagined to serve community needs and support ongoing revitalization of the city’s historic heart.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. | @savingplaces

This May, our Preservation Month theme is “People Saving Places” to shine the spotlight on everyone doing the work of saving places—in big ways and small—and inspiring others to do the same!