Chabad of Kentucky is expanding … into a piece of commonwealth history.
The organization announced this week that it has purchased Rosewell, an 8,000-square-foot, 150-year-old mansion in Prospect, for $400,000. It expects to hold its first program there on May 3, a Lag B’Omer event.
Rabbi Baruch Susman and his wife, Chaya, will run the new center, to be called Chabad Chai Center. The Louisville Jewish Day School at 1110 Dupont Circle and the Chabad Houser and Outreach Center at 1654 Almara Circle will remain open.
The expansion reflects a $650,000 investment in the suburbs of Louisville Metro, according to Susman. In addition to the purchase price, Chabad expects to spend $250,000 in upgrades and restoration over 2-3 years to the mansion, which stands at 6900 Transylvania Avenue.
“We’re not changing the structure,” Susman said. “We’re not altering the walls; we’re keeping the historic beauty of it. We’re not going to do anything structural, but the house was built almost 200 years ago.”
He said Shabbat services, Sunday programming, weekly Torah study and, starting this fall, Hebrew school, will be held at the Rosewell.
The summer camp also will operate at that location.
Rabbi Avrohom Litvin, regional director of Chabad of Kentucky, said the expansion is the result of a study Chabad undertook two years ago. Among the findings:
- Lexington was underserved (Chabad of the Bluegrass has since opened there directed by Rabbi Shlomo Litvin);
- The Louisville Jewish Day School should be relocated in the St. Matthews/Highlands area (it has since moved from downtown to Dupont Circle);
- The Eastern Suburbs, especially the area beyond the Gene Snyder Freeway, were underserved.
“The fourth piece of our puzzle is to develop activities [for] the Jewish community, to spread the joy to the Jewish community, especially in the underserved areas,” Litvin said.
Built in the 1825, Rosewell was named for the roses that thrived on the property’s well water. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet purchased the house and surrounding property in 2005 for $1.6 million.
At the time, the purchase was part of a state effort to protect historic properties near the Ohio River Bridges Project
Though the state invested in the building’s preservation, it nevertheless sat vacant for 10 years until it was put up for sale.
During that time, the house also took a hit – literally. Susman said a tornado struck the mansion in 2011, taking off a 3,000-square-foot addition. Susman said the addition wasn’t historic.
The mansion includes six bedrooms and four bathrooms.