HISTORY OF THE MONSARRAT BUILDING
WHERE HISTORY CONTINUES
The Monsarrat School was designed by the well known architectural partners, Isaiah Rogers (1800-1869) and Henry Whitestone (1819-1893), in a modified Renaissance Revival mode. It served a wealthy residential section, located just south of Broadway.
The Monsarrat property was acquired in May of 1853, and the original building was completed in September of 1854, at a cost of $18,000.00.
On June 17, 1885 a fire destroyed the building. The fire had begun in the chair factory of B. Olyer, a frame building at Fifth & York on the south side of the "great southern ditch". According to newspaper accounts, the structures were seventy-five feet apart, but there was a lack of water as there was not a public cistern within a quarter mile of the school. No one was injured from the fire, and the children’s books and the library of the Neodelphic Society were saved.
On July 16, 1855, the Louisville Daily Courier reported that new construction contracts were awarded and commented that, "it will be the best constructed and most admirable school house in the city".
Originally known as the "Fifth Ward School", the building was divided into compartments for male and female students. They were taught on separate sides of the school. Total enrollment was three hundred. It later became known as the Monsarrat School, named in honor of its first principal, Laura Lucas Monsarrat.
The Monsarrat served the community as a hospital during the Civil War and as a dormitory for soldiers during World War ll. From 1937 until recently, the building was used for the Natural History Museum of the Louisville Free Public Library.
The Monsarrat is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1983 a total renovation of the structure was carried out. This converted the building into eighteen luxury apartment homes. As you can see much of the interior design and architecture has been preserved. Doors and door frames were retained as well as colors. The homes have fourteen foot ceilings, some with split levels and others with circular staircases and a loft.
The exterior of the building has been retained with original brick and original windows.
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