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Metro Newsroom

African-American Heritage Foundation Assumes Control of Trolley Barn Property

Tuesday January 19, 2010


Federal, state, city governments renovated building

After years of renovation work, the historic Russell trolley barn has been handed over to a nonprofit group, which plans to open the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage at the site.

Gov. Steve Beshear and Mayor Jerry Abramson presented the keys today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to the Heritage Center Foundation Board, which must now raise private dollars to equip and operate the museum.

“African-Americans have made so many significant contributions to our state and to our country, and our citizens finally have a place to learn about those contributions right here in Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “This museum will be a showpiece for our state, and I look forward to its grand opening.”

Federal, city and state governments — along with private donations — helped renovate the trolley barn to the tune of $20 million.

“Just as Dr. King’s legacy reminds us of the struggles and victories of the Civil Rights Movement, this museum will educate and remind all Kentuckians about the history of African-Americans in our Commonwealth,” Abramson said.

Congressman John Yarmuth, who has been a supporter of the heritage center before being elected to Congress, called today’s handover an important step.

“Our community deserves a space that celebrates and educates future generations about the storied legacy of African-Americans in Kentucky,” Yarmuth said. “I’ve been so proud to support this project for many years, and I could not be more thrilled that today we are one step closer to making that dream a reality here in Louisville.”

The barn was a hub for trolleys that once traversed Louisville’s streets. It is located at 18th and Muhammad Ali, in the Russell neighborhood, named for African-American educator Harvey C. Russell.

The Heritage Foundation Board, headed by President Christie McCravy, must now raise the money to build the exhibits, office, gift shop, education and classroom space.

“Now that we have control of the building, we plan to kick-off an aggressive fundraising campaign,” McCravy said. “We have much work ahead – but I am confident we can raise the money.”