A historic landmark

Nunnlea celebrates 150 years

Louisville home is on the
National Register of Historic Places

By Kelly Kapp
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (September 2005) – A drive down Hurstbourne Parkway in Louisville these days is a constant reminder of how fast-paced our lives have become as suburban growth takes over what was once quiet neighborhoods.


Photo by Kelly Kapp

Nunnlea, on South Hurstbourne Parkway,
is owned and operated by the
Beautification League.

But nestled amid all the modern hubbub sits a glimpse of the past. This insight into Louisville history is illustrated in the peaceful surroundings of the historic home of Nunnlea, located at 1940 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy. between Taylorsville Road and I-64.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Nunnlea sits on land that was once called Willowbrook. This was a large parcel of land owned by Jacob Funk, one of the first settlers of Jefferson County. Built in 1855, the house was originally the home of Alfred H. Hite and his wife, Harriet, who was the great-granddaughter of Jacob Funk. In 1935, after three other owners, the house was sold to Virginia Nunn Eady and George Eady, who named the house Nunnlea in honor of Mrs. Eady’s maiden name. Famous past visitors to the house include President Herbert Hoover.
Nunnlea celebrated its 150th anniversary during a two-day extravaganza on July 30-31. The event was sponsored by the Beautification League of Louisville & Jefferson County, which today owns the property. The event included self-tours of the house and property, with league members standing by to direct visitors. Meanwhile, Civil War re-enactors set up camp and performed military drills on the grounds. The event also included quilts for sale, a lunch that consisted of food from the late 1800s, and an antique auction. Ken Hays, of Ken Hays & Associates Inc., provided his auctioneer services.
The Beautification League, formed in 1932, is “dedicated to enhancing the green areas in Louisville and Jefferson County. The league is comprised of civic gardens and clubs, as well as individuals and businesses in the Louisville and Jefferson County areas. The league also sponsors an annual Landscape Awards Program, in which both owners of business and non-residential properties can compete in 16-17 categories for recognition for their landscaping efforts. Past winners include the Louisville Boat Club and The Forum office building on Shelbyville Road.

Beautification League Owners

Photo by Kelly Kapp

Beautification League officers
Kathleen Owen, Caroline Randolph and
Corie Neumayer pose at the Nunnlea home.

According to league president Caroline Randolph, the League scouts out properties that its members feel deserve awards. They also take recommendations from people who feel that a certain property should be considered.
In 1962, the Beautification League purchased Nunnlea and two acres of surrounding land to prevent the house from being razed by a developer. Since then, the league has been working steadily to repair and restore the house.
“Even though upkeep is expensive, we have made many improvements to the property,” said Kathleen Owen, the league’s vice president and events planner.
These include air conditioning, a new copper roof and decorations expressing an authentic 1850s motif.
Nunnlea offers many types of educational programs and also rents the house for wedding receptions and parties.Owen said the league aims for “a wide variety of topics” with its educational programs.
For example, the league offers programs about gardening and landscaping, historical preservation, and offers a bridal open house. The league offers tours of the house by appointment, including tours for schools.
“Students like to see and touch history,” says Owen. Educational programs are open to the public, and participants do not have to be league members.
Promoting and preserving history is an important part of the Beautification League’s many goals, Owen said. “We want to keep history alive,” said Owen. “There’s a lot of history in this whole area.”
Owen believes the league can help “preserve this history for future generations because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Karry Reasor, a member of the Hoosier Brigade, the group that performed the Civil War re-enactments, agreed that educating others about the history of Nunnlea is important. Reasor said she is glad Nunnlea “opens its doors” for people of all ages to take advantage of educational opportunities.

• For information about the Beautification League, volunteering or the programs or rental space offered at Nunnlea, call (502) 491-7343 or visit www.nunnlea.com. For information about the Hoosier Brigade and historical re-enactments, call Gen. Graves at (812) 883-0790.

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