Vital Sites Supports Preservation of Odd Fellows Hall

Streetscape, 1928: north side of West Walnut (now Muhammad Ali). The only remaining structure is Odd Fellows Hall, center.
(Collage created by Vital Sites using photos from the University of Louisville Digital Collections)

This page summarizes the local advocacy alert for the preservation of Liberty Hall aka the Odd Fellows Hall in Louisville. View our updated PRESS page here. Omni intends to demolish this building without a development plan in place for the parcel. However, Odd Fellows Hall remains a functional space that should be adaptively reused for a new purpose. Plus, it is more environmentally sustainable to reuse a building than to tear it down.

Unfortunately, Metro Council voted 20-5 on March 25 to overturn the landmark designation of Liberty Hall. See our INFOGRAPHIC with statistics from past decisions!

Vital Sites, Louisville Historical League, and NPP Kentuckiana support the preservation of this building. #OriginalCharacterNewStories

Here is a list of comments already received by Metro Council. The Planning & Zoning Committee met on Tues. Mar. 2 at 1 PM. However, it was not a public meeting and no public comments were taken. Past meetings are available to view via MetroTV. The P & Z Committee met again on March 16 at 1 PM, where the vote was 5-1 to overturn the landmark designation and send for full vote. Only Cassie Chambers Armstrong voted against overturning. The agenda for the March 16 meeting provides a link to R-021-21, the resolution to overturn the Landmarks Commission landmark decision from November 2020.

There was a press conference on Wed. Feb. 24 in front of the building and a rally to support preservation on March 15. View the Feb. 24 press release here. Or refer to our press link above.

Contact the members of the Planning & Zoning Committee (below, first group) and express your opinion about saving this building and supporting the landmarking process in general!

Contact ALL council members to say you’re against demolition of Louisville’s historic buildings and that the landmarking decision should stand! Find your representative here.

History of the building

Urbanist Jane Jacobs once said:

“Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them…. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”

Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

This beautiful three-story brick building was constructed ca. 1897 and used continuously as a meeting hall, offices, stores, a dance studio, and a restaurant over time. It is well-designed and remains structurally sound as the lone building on its side of the block. (Fact vs. Fiction graphic)

The draft designation report, compiled by Louisville Metro staff in February 2020, is viewable here. This document provides information on the history and integrity of the building, as well as background on the Odd Fellows organization. While the architect is unknown, the building displays architectural details similar to those designed by master builders of its era. (See graphic created by Steve Wiser, AIA)

Three-story brick building, Liberty Hall AKA Odd Fellows building in Louisville, KY, is in danger of demolition
Liberty Hall AKA the Odd Fellows Hall, ca. 1897, 211-215 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd, Louisville, KY

November 2020: the Louisville Metro Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission approved a landmark designation for this building with a vote of 10-2. (Louisville Business First article)

It is a well-designed building that consistently adapted to new uses over its 124-year life. There are no current development plans for the parcel. Therefore, it should continue to be a beautiful and functional space in downtown Louisville.

Dance Theatre of Harlem rehearsing at Liberty Hall in 1972
Dance Theatre of Harlem rehearsing in the ballroom space of Liberty AKA Odd Fellows Hall. Photo from The Courier-Journal on February 10, 1972. Note the round windows.