Portland Honors Neighborhood Preservation Work

As artists and real estate investors turn their attention to Louisville’s historic Portland neighborhood, local preservationists who have worked to keep the historic integrity of the neighborhood intact are being honored for their efforts. The Portland Museum and the Portland Preservation Alliance team up to recognize members of the community who have contributed significantly to preserving the architectural heritage of the historic Portland neighborhood.

Historian Rick Bell will receive the individual preservationist award. Bell’s recent research finds include the date Portland’s historic Squire Earick House was built, a detail that eluded archeologists and historians for decades. The house is thought to be the oldest timber frame building in Jefferson County. Bell found proof of the building’s 1818 construction in a letter uncovered in a Cincinnati archive. The house is currently being rehabilitated under the supervision of the museum, and an accurate date of construction is necessary information for historically-appropriate renovation.

“For twenty or more years he has been researching and promoting the history and heritage of Portland,” says Portland Museum executive director Nathalie Andrews. “He’s been so helpful to every conceivable project in providing information and images and his now-vast knowledge of Portland history.”

New Directions Housing Corporation will also be recognized for its work. Andrews says New Directions has consistently respected Portland’s historic buildings, like the Peter Portman House on Northwestern Parkway, as the organization has renovated them for affordable housing over the years.

Andrews also points to New Directions’ work with the old Roosevelt School building, saying it was once “the heart of East Portland.” The former school, built in 1867, had twice been damaged by fire when New Directions, with Portland Development Organization, launched a $4.2 million restoration and adaptive reuse project at the property with funds from the city of Louisville and federal tax credits. The 60,000-square feet Roosevelt Apartments now contains 47 units and community meeting space. New Directions also played a role in the recent Save Our Shotguns program, renovating an historic shotgun house on Portland’s Main Street.

Bell and New Directions will be honored Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Squire Earick House (719 N. 34th St.). Andrews says attendees will have the opportunity to tour the house, which she calls “a work in progress.”

“You get to see what I call the forensics,” says Andrews of the discovery process of preservation and restoration. “We have some open walls, and people are going to be able to look at the evidence. Wallpaper we’ve retrieved, cut nails, it’s really kind of fascinating.”

The day’s activities also include horse-drawn carriage tours of the historic district. Tickets are required for the carriage tours. Call the museum at (502) 776-7678 for details.

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