Old Louisville’s Conrad-Caldwell House Museum is expanding its programming, hoping to attract a wider visitor base with a series of free community events.
“Some ideas are still in development,” says executive director Ally Wroblewski . “We are always open to new partnerships and new ideas.”
The St. James Court Victorian mansion opens a new historical exhibition Saturday. “Louisville and the Great War” explores Louisville’s role in World War I, with an emphasis on Camp Zachary Taylor. More than 125,000 army soldiers trained in what’s now the Camp Taylor neighborhood during the war, swelling Jefferson County’s population at the time by 25 percent.
The exhibit includes uniforms, posters from Camp Zachary Taylor, photos and other artifacts from the period, including the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-19, and a display focused on World War I hospitals and medical practice.
“We got a lot of really interesting pieces on loan for that,” says Wroblewski . “I’ve seen some of the equipment that they used. It makes you cringe a little bit, but it’s definitely fascinating.”
The museum also hopes to grow its audience with a Victorian book club. Every other month, the museum will lead discussions and activities focused on a different Victorian novel, starting with “The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” Irish playwright and poet Oscar Wilde’s only novel. Published in 1890, it tells the story of a man who sells his soul to stay young.
“With the different genres that we’re doing it reaches out to different people,” says Wroblewski. “Guys might be more interested in it when we do the sci-fi Jules Verne-type books. Then there’s also some of those wonderful love stories, we have ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Great Expectations’.”
The first book club meeting is January 30. In March, the club will discuss “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne.
The Richardsonian Romanesque home, designed by Louisville architect Arthur Loomis and built in 1893, has been fully restored with original Edwardian-era details of 1908, when it served as the family home of William and Elaine Conrad. The house contains a number of antiques from the turn of the century, and is a popular wedding and special event site.