The many uses of the Henry Clay Building

You may have attended special events — a wedding, reception, formal dinner, or even a prom — at the 88-year-old Henry Clay building located at the southwest corner of 3rd Street and Chestnut Street, but have you ever wondered what else has happened in this building?

Henry Clay Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky, 1935.

Henry Clay Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky, 1935.

Originally an Elks Athletic Club, the Henry Clay was built in 1924 and designed by local architectural firm Joseph & Joseph in a neo-classical revival style. Four years later, the Elks moved out and the building was re-purposed as the Henry Clay Hotel. Images in the Royal Photo Co. collection show that Southern Bell frequently held classes for employees there.

In 1963, the building took on a new life as a YWCA. Some people may remember taking swimming lessons in the building (sadly, the pool no longer exists). There are painted signs on the south side of the building along the alleyway that connects to Third Street pointing to the Pool Entrance.

Henry Clay Hotel, reception area.

Reception area, 1924.

Although added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, eventually, the building fell into disuse and sat empty for many years. Since 2005, however, the Henry Clay has been owned by  City Properties Group, which restored the building to much of its original splendor, including limestone floors and ornate molding in the lobby. Lower floors are used for event space and house the Bunbury Theatre, while the upper levels have residential apartments and condos.

Browse these and other images at the University of Louisville Digital Collections in the Images of Kentucky and its Environs and Royal Photo Company collections.

Southern Bell class in the Henry Clay basement, 1946.

Southern Bell class in the Henry Clay basement, 1946.

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