Tannery Building present day
The Louisville Leather Company Tannery Building will be lifted by about 18 inches as part of its renovation. | Courtesy of Paristown Pointe

A 19th-century tannery building in Paristown Pointe is about to get a lift — of about 18 inches.

The former Louisville Leather Company Tannery Building, built in 1875 and located at 711-715 Brent St., is part of the Paristown Pointe development project and ultimately will be home to The Café, a popular local restaurant, plus office space and an events center or night club.

The Italianate-style building, which once housed a thriving tanning business, was heavily damaged by the floods of 1937 and 1945, and the result has been that the structure has shifted and has begun to sag in the middle.

Hydraulic jacks have been put into place over the past few weeks, and throughout the next several days, the structure will be raised, floor by floor, at 1/16 inch increments, or roughly about 5 inches per day. It is estimated to take about two days per floor to reach the desired height.

The Tannery Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.The raising of the structure is the first step in its restoration. Plans include restoring the exterior to its original industrial look, with an atrium being added that will connect it to the adjacent Louisville Stoneware & Co. building.

The Tannery Building during the 1937 flood
The Tannery Building, far left, during the 1937 flood | Courtesy of Paristown Pointe

Stephen Edwards Building Movers LLC is performing the lift, and complete restoration of the building is scheduled for November. The Café will move in shortly after the building is complete.

The neighborhood restoration project also includes construction of nearby Old Forester’s Paristown Hall.

The concert and events venue, which in late May applied for its alcoholic beverage license, will be the anchor of the Paristown development and is scheduled to open July 23.

Restoring the buildings is a focal point of the project, which aims to preserve the history of the once-booming, 7-acre neighborhood sandwiched between Smoketown, the Highlands, Germantown and Phoenix Hill, just east of downtown along Beargrass Creek.

“We are taking great care in revitalizing Paristown as an authentic place that brings people together to celebrate life, art and community,” said Steve Smith, managing partner of the Paristown project, in a news release.

“From a very young age,” Stephen Edwards said of the restoration to the Tannery Building, “my father taught me about the beautiful uniqueness of these old buildings and the patience and care required to bring them back to life.”

Repaving of Brent Street in vitrified brick recently began and is wrapping up. Vitrified brick was the material used to pave many of Louisville’s streets in the mid-1800s, some of which can still be seen.

Smith envisions Brent Street as a space that will be accessible to automobile traffic most of the time, but can be closed for special events to make it a walkable public space.

“We are committed to maintaining the historic Village of Paristown’s remarkable character,” Smith said.  “The restoration of Brent Street and surrounding areas will reflect the authentic charm we want our guests to experience.”

Brent Street is expected to reopen in early June.

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Kevin Gibson
Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]