Kaila Washington and Gaberiel Jones Jr. had been looking for a place to live in the Russell neighborhood when they began dreaming about a historic West Louisville mansion.
After sitting vacant for eight years, the 134-year-old, three-story Victorian mansion is in for a makeover thanks to the local couple — complete with a bourbon room, lounge + Airbnb.
Gaberiel, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Louisville + Kaila, an Army reservist and doctoral student in the same department, purchased the property for $60,000 about a year ago out of their mutual love for the neighborhood.
“We are very fond of Russell, we’ve lived here about three years and we enjoy being in a historically Black neighborhood,” Kaila said. “We wanted to stay in a historically Black neighborhood and responsibly invest in the community. We’re not displacing anybody by buying this abandoned house and we’re really excited about the things coming to Russell.”
Kaila and Gaberiel are both active in the Russell: A Place of Promise initiative + Gaberiel represents the neighborhood on the West End Opportunity Partnership board, which looks to create a tax increment financing district to keep money in West Louisville and fund development projects in the area.
Gaberiel estimates the total cost of the renovation on their new home will be around $300,000 + they look to utilize Historic Preservation Tax Credits. They’ve also applied for the Russell Home Ownership Incentive Program as well, though they said movement has been slow on that front.
Here’s a look at the history of the house:
- The mansion was constructed in 1888 by widow Mary Wedekind.
- When Russell was becoming a Black neighborhood, the property was purchased by the Ebbs family who held it for nearly 100 years.
- When the home was built, its address was 2517 W. Walnut St. until 1909, when it changed to 2417 W. Walnut St. In 1978, it became its current address.
- The property is featured in Samuel W. Thomas’ book, “The Architectural History of Louisville 1778-1900”
- Kaila and Gaberiel are only the fourth family to live in the house.
- First floor: formal entertaining space with a dining room + a bourbon room to showcase the couple’s 415-bottle collection
- Second floor: informal living area with a bedroom + lounge
- Third floor: Airbnb space for out-of-town visitors
“Anybody else who wants to do this, they should do it,” Gaberiel said. “We need more people in general, but specifically, we need younger generations of folks to care about old houses so that they don’t fall into disrepair like this and we can keep these pieces of history. We planned for this for seven years — working multiple jobs, (having) missed opportunities, and investors taking things from us, but it still happened.”
Follow Kaila + Gaberiel’s renovation progress on their Instagram, Remaking A Mansion.