Abandoned Phoenix Hill Church

The abandoned Phoenix Hill Church was originally built between the years of 1867 & 1868.

Made well known in the City of Louisville by the Ursuline Sisters (who had the building built), the Ursuline Sisters moved on to build Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville, Kentucky. 

The murals painted on the inside of the church walls were painted by the artist, Johann Schmitt between 1868 and 1872. Sadly, a fire in 1989 destroyed most of these great displays of Schmitt's work.

The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as of 1977. It was designed by Cincinnati architect, John Bast in the Romanesque-Revival style typified by its rounded arches. A renovation in 1900 added electricity to the chapel for the first time. We were able to travel the underground tunnels to see how electricity and plumbing were added to the church over the decades.

Next to the church stood the original 1859 convent, which was demolished in 1899 to make way for the construction of the Cloister Apartments the following year.

Over the decades the church has had multiple owners (after the Ursuline Sisters moved out). It was once titled, "Chapel of the Immaculate Conception" as of 1963. 

According to the Encyclopedia of Louisvillethe church along with the Cloister Apartments were refurbished in the late 1970s when it housed a gourmet restaurant called Raposo’s. The restaurant closed in 1980 and the next year, the Louisville School of Art moved in. Upon merging with the University of Louisville in 1983, the Louisville School of Art moved out, leaving the building vacant yet again.

In 1989, Temple Beth Shalom moved in (which explains the Star of David painted on the steeple).

Photo Credit: Work Architecture + Design
Temple Beth Shalom added a drop-ceiling in the sanctuary. This concealed the church's dramatic barrel-vaulted ceiling (this explains the numerous metal wires we see hanging from the ceiling today). That same year, the building suffered minor damage due to a fire. The main loss coming to a portion of the murals that had been there for over 100 years. The building took minor damage again in 2008 during a major wind storm.

Today, the building is owned by the same owner as the Cloister Apartments (right next to it). We are told that the owner plans to refurbish the church and possibly change it into apartments, similar to what the owner of the Ouerbacker Mansion did in another portion of Louisville.

Thankfully, we not only were able to get in, but we were extremely welcomed by the owners, giving us full access to the church.

However, due to structural damage, we were unable to go onto the roof or into the steeple. We were told that the bell has been missing for decades.

 Photo Credit: Ray Schumann Photography (1977) 
A photograph from 1977, looking into the sanctuary from the main stage. 

See some more of what we captured: