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Louisville To Restore Historic Black Music School

Nicholas Morberg/Flickr

Louisville Metro Government has received a $500,000 federal grant to revive The Bourgard College of Music and Art, a historic Black music school in the Russell neighborhood.

Caroline Bourgard, a white music educator, opened the Bourgard College of Music and Art in 1928 in a Queen Anne-style residence she purchased. According to the city’s grant application, Bourgard founded the school because there were few other options for Black children to learn music or arts.

“Well-known across the state, Bourgard felt strongly that music should be available to every student and saw the discrepancies in the educational opportunities for African Americans. Bourgard College was the first art school in Louisville for African American children and helped produce many of Louisville’s most popular African American musicians,” reads a press release from the city.

Bourgard College’s heyday lasted from the 1930s through the 1960s. The school closed in 2017 because it didn't have enough funding, and the building was in disrepair. The city acquired the property in 2020.

Using the grant, the city plans to restore the building, and make it available as a space for children to learn art and music once again.

The city says they also plan to hire a preservation consultant to research the school and the role it had in Louisville residents’ fight for civil rights.

The funding is a grant from the National Parks Service aimed at restoring civil rights landmarks around the country.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.