Louisville to Restore Historic Black Music School – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

The Louisville Metro government has received a $500,000 federal grant to revive 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 hall that she purchased. According to the city grant application, Bourgard founded the school because there were few other options for black children to learn music or the arts.

“Well known throughout the state, Bourgard believed that music should be accessible to all students and saw the gaps in educational opportunities for African Americans. Bourgard College was Louisville’s first art school for African-American children and helped produce many of Louisville’s most popular African-American musicians,” reads a city press release.

Bourgard College’s heyday lasted from the 1930s to the 1960s. The school closed in 2017 due to insufficient funding and the building was in poor condition. The city acquired the property in 2020.

With the grant, the city plans to restore the building and make it available as a space for children to relearn art and music.

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

The funding is a National Park Service grant aimed at restoring civil rights monuments across the country.

Jess Clark is WFPL’s education and learning reporter.

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