200 years after Frederick Law Olmsted’s birth, Olmsted Parks Conservancy kicks off the first expansion of his Louisville park system – one of only four such Olmsted systems in the world. As the national Olmsted 200 celebration honors Olmsted’s legacy and the community-building power of parks, Beargrass Preserve at Cherokee Park will grow into a sanctuary for all citizens of our city.
Thanks to a generous $8 million gift from Norman and Belita Noltemeyer, Olmsted Parks Conservancy was able to purchase approximately 25 acres of land from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The property acquisition represents the first major expansion of Louisville’s Cherokee Park in its 100-years.
The land had been advertised as a development opportunity, with more than 70 sites available for home construction. Not since the interstate expanded through the park had Cherokee Park been so threatened by development. Much of the land was already assumed to be Cherokee Park property, nine acres of woodland filled with hiking and biking trails. Thanks to the Noltemeyers’ commitment to conservation, Olmsted Parks Conservancy has been entrusted to protect the property as park land in perpetuity.
The exciting announcement has many people asking what’s next for Beargrass Preserve at Cherokee Park. In keeping with Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s policy of community-informed park planning, much of the strategy for the land is yet to be confirmed. The timeline for creating a space that will serve our community is as follows:
- Consult with organizations like Habitat for Humanity to salvage any useable fixtures or materials.
- Demolish the outdated buildings on the site, a $500,000 project to create a blank slate to hold the community’s vision for the property.
- Identify a firm to create a master plan for the property that includes public input from park neighbors, stakeholders, representatives from Louisville Parks and Recreation, and citizens at large to learn how the space can best serve our community.
- Steward a fundraising campaign, seeking donations to support projects identified in the master plan.
- Hold a groundbreaking as the work begins, Winter 2023 depending on fundraising timeline.
Frederick Law Olmsted’s contributions to the fields of public health, conservation and urban planning have enriched communities for generations. Olmsted would refer to his park systems as “the lungs of the city;” living, breathing spaces that bring vitality to the urban landscape. In 2022, we celebrate the 200th year of his birth as part of the nationwide Olmsted 200 commemoration. What an incredible honor to expand Louisville’s Olmsted park system at such an auspicious time! Please support this historic project by donating today.
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