A Look Inside Louis D. Brandeis’ Boyhood Home
I get asked from time to time where the house Brandeis grew up in is and whether it is still standing. Here is what Philippa Strum says in her biography Louis D. Brandeis: Justice for the People:
When Brandeis was four, his parents moved from their little house on Center Street, between Chestnut and Walnut, to a larger one on First Street, which they had remodeled. A few years later they moved again, this time to an impressive limestone-fronted house they had built on fashionable Broadway.
I don’t know anything about the houses on Center or First Streets, but the house on Broadway still stands. Formerly known as the Turners of Louisville building, it is located at 310 E. Broadway, near the medical campus of the University of Louisville. It is now the office building of the UofL Dermatology group.
Here is a shot of the front of the building:
The limestone front Strum mentioned is clearly visible. It gives the building a rather un-residential look. After the Brandeis’ moved out, the building was sold to a German social group and a gymnasium was added to the back of the house. You can see the addition in the next picture.
The building was bought by the dermatology group in the 70’s or 80’s. A newspaper article that is framed and mounted inside the house claims that the doctors were planning on donating the house to the University of Louisville when they retired, but I don’t know if that is still part of their plan.
Obviously the inside of the house has been converted into offices, but parts of the front look like they must have back in Brandeis’ time. Check out this nice staircase:
The horse, though, I think is a recent addition:
Update (4/30/2012): I just found in the archives an old Courier-Journal article from February 19, 1939 titled “He Watched Louisville Grow” that talks about Brandeis’ days in his home town. The article has this to say about the house on Broadway:
In 1872 the Brandeis family and the grandfather of W. W. Crawford, Louisville attorney, entered business together. During the same year both families built homes at Preston and Broadway–side by side. The Brandeis home was located on the site now occupied by the Louisville Turners clubrooms.
So Brandeis moved into the house when he was 15 or 16. (Actually, this information is wrong.) I still don’t know anything about the house on First Street, but the article stated that Center Street is now known as Armory Place, so I went downtown this morning to take a look. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see. Any houses that were on the block are now long gone. The west side of the block is nothing but parking lots and business buildings owned by AT&T. The east side (which is the side where his house was) is more parking lots, a closed down nightclub, a corn dog stand and an industrial type building that looks like it might have been converted into apartments. Where the house Brandeis had been born in is along here is anybody’s guess.
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