An area architect, Rodney Meadows, is step-by-step refurbishing an old mansion in Louisville known as the Juilliard Center. The house in the 500 block of E. Main Street, was owned by the city of Louisville which sold it last year. What ever happened to the Juilliard Center in Louisville? See a gallery of photos.
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What city officials here unloaded as a money-losing abyss, architect Rodney Meadows is embracing as a local culture-sustaining icon.
A year after buying what is known here as the Juilliard Center, Meadows is developing a plan to restore the Victorian-era mansion and making it available for community activities and public use. See a gallery of photos.
“My intention was not to keep it, but to move it to a foundation,” said Meadows, of the Motter & Meadows architectural firm. “I didn’t want to lose it because of its historic and architectural value. The intent is to turn that into a community center. The vision is that it becomes a very active building that people use every day. The one thing Louisville lacks is a community center.”
City officials concluded it was too costly to maintain and repair the two-story structure at 523 E. Main St. It had been home to the city’s senior citizens programs. The programming is being disbanded in January. City Council auctioned the building in 2008.
“Speaking for myself, I would love to have it used for the benefit of the community,” Councilman Richard Guiley said. “We sold it because we couldn’t afford it. Sometimes people measure support by how many tax dollars you spend. Can you imagine, in these economic times we are in, spending tens of thousands of dollars maintaining that building?”
City officials’ selling price for the Juilliard Center was $80,000.
The house, which dates to the 1870s, once was home to Charles Juilliard, whose brother, Augustus Juilliard, was a businessman who put up money to start the Juilliard Musical Foundation in New York City.
When selling the Juilliard Center, the city put a clause in the deed giving municipal officials power to veto subsequent sales. But to exercise that power — called first right of refusal — city officials would have to buy the building to prevent another party from acquiring it.
“It is a historic building in our community,” city Manager E. Thomas Ault said. “Council wanted to put conditions in the deed to assure the building is not torn down for commercial purposes. It has architectural value, and we would like to see it preserved.”
Meanwhile, Meadows is methodically upgrading the structure. He recently installed a new roof, which he said cost about $30,000.
The next project will be replacing the heating system. Currently, there is a water boiler system.
Page 2 of 2 - “All the piping was leaking,” Meadows said. “We will take that out and replace it with a furnace unit and new duct work. To be frank, there are a lot of issues to deal with. There are plumbing issues. We would like to restore it and be able to use different parts of the house. We don’t want to block it off.”
Ideally, Meadows wants to turn the Juilliard Center over to a nonprofit group, Juilliard Center Inc. Its vision is to own the house and lease it to area community and service organizations for their use.
“Things are not falling together like we were hoping they would fall together,” said Larry Groves, treasurer of Juilliard Center Inc. “Only because we have had to do something to make the house a functioning entity. The city was not a very good caretaker. There is a whole litany of items that need done. We still have to raise funds to purchase it.”
The house was used this past summer by the Stark County Bicentennial Commission, which had a program honoring Augustus Juilliard.
“What we are hoping to do is continue to have programs,” said Pat Fallot, who becomes mayor in January. “That is part of Louisville’s history. We want to preserve history. I am hoping to work with the Louisville Chamber of Commerce and businesses in Louisville to get different programs of interest going to get people to come to Louisville.