Louisville Metro will demolish Cherokee Park ‘witch’s hat’ pavilion this week
Louisville Parks and Recreation officials say they’re moving forward with an emergency demolition of the Hogan’s Fountain Pavilion in Cherokee Park this week, following a fourth structural assessment that found there’s an imminent threat of collapse.
The 56-foot-tall pavilion, known colloquially to residents as “witch’s hat,” was erected in the 1960s. It was declared a local landmark in 2012 as fans of the structure raised funds to repair it. The Hogan’s Fountain Pavilion and part of a nearby playground were fenced off last year. An engineering firm contracted by the city found many of the wooden beams supporting the pavilion’s iconic roof were rotting.
In a press release Monday, Mayor Craig Greenberg said the same firm, Tetra Tech, has been monitoring the deterioration of the pavilion. He said an assessment last month found the structure continued to move away from its foundation.
“The Hogan’s Fountain Pavilion has been a familiar site in our community for almost 60 years,” Greenberg said. “It’s been a place for friends to gather for events like birthday parties, barbecues, and more. Like other structures that age, time and weather have taken a toll.”
City officials say a resident first reported concerns about the Hogan’s Fountain Pavilion last May and fencing was put up shortly after. A followup assessment found some wooden support beams were turning to mulch and the roof was sliding off its supports. Engineers have since noted significant cracking in the pavilion’s stone veneer and steel connection plates pulling and rotating away from the concrete base.
It was damage to the foundation of the structure that ultimately led to the emergency demolition order, city officials said Monday.
Louisville Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Jason Canuel told Metro Council last year that repairing the pavilion would be far more costly than demolishing it. Tetra Tech estimated demolition would cost roughly $56,000, whereas shoring up the structure could cost as much as $1.3 million.
And Canuel said completely fixing the pavilion’s structural issues would leave it unrecognizable.
“The repairs that would need to be made, we believe, would be so drastic that the original character of what you see there today would be completely changed,” Canuel told council members.
The Landmarks Architectural Review Committee denied a request by parks officials in March to demolish the Hogan’s Fountain Pavilion. Some committee members said they wanted to see the city explore options for repairs.
Given the imminent danger of collapse that endangers the public reported by parks officials, the architectural review committee does not need to sign off on the emergency demolition plan. The nearby playground will be closed temporarily during demolition but is expected to reopen once work is complete, according to Kevin Trager, a spokesperson for Greenberg.
The city plans to conduct a public input process to determine what kind of structure should replace the pavilion.