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Neighbors Sue Over Demolition Of Historic House In Wolf Pen Area

All that’s left of the so-called Hoke House, built in the 1860s, is a low stone wall a few yards back from the road. Construction crews work nearby on homes that cost well over a million dollars. It’s a sign of what’s to come on Fincastle Farm Trace in Prospect.

These new houses don’t fit with the older homes that make up the rest of the Wolf Pen area in eastern Jefferson County, said Alice Gunnison, the president of the Wolf Pen Preservation Association. She’s disappointed that the Louisville Metro Landmarks Commission denied her organization’s request to protect the farmhouse by designating it a historic landmark.

"Look around you and see what’s here and the rest of Wolf Pen looks like this," she said. "And then we've got these gargantuan starter castle houses right here. And I think it's just a shame."

Gunnison said it's an example of the special treatment she believes developers get in Louisville.

Attorney Steve Porter says whoever demolished the home after the Landmarks Commission’s decision on November 21st violated the appeal period. He filed suit for his clients on Monday in Jefferson Circuit Court and said they will seek reimbursement of legal fees as well as punitive damages for violating the hold on the wrecking permit that was meant to allow for an appeal.

Porter said the group doesn't know who's responsible for the violation, so they are casting a wide net. The suit names the developer of the plots that hosted and surrounding Hoke House, Fincastle Farms Development 1, LLC; Grasshoppers Landclearing and Tree Service; and Louisville Metro Government and the Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission.

Porter said the goal is to make sure appeal periods are protected in future historic landmarks cases.

"We want to make sure that this would never happen again to any other potential landmarking but we're very concerned that it happened at this one,” Porter said.

He said the Wolf Pen Preservation Association had been trying to save the house since 2016 and was exploring its options. But the cost of the land proved prohibitive, as empty plots in the planned subdivision where the house stood start at more than $300,000.

The association is hoping the Landmarks Commission will reverse its decision, even though the house no longer exists, Porter said.

A representative for the developer said he could not comment since he had not seen the complaint, and a representative for the city declined to comment on pending or active litigation.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.