Hillerich & Bradsby wants to help revitalize Smoketown with old - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hillerich & Bradsby wants to help revitalize Smoketown with old Louisville Slugger factory lot

Posted: Updated:
Valued at $1 million, the property will also go to the Wheelhouse Project, a community effort that will play a role in the revitalization in Smoketown. Valued at $1 million, the property will also go to the Wheelhouse Project, a community effort that will play a role in the revitalization in Smoketown.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Weeds, rocks and litter cover the vacant Smoketown lot. It’s symbolic of the lack of activity, business and greenery in the Smoketown neighborhood.

But the concrete there today was once the foundation for the old Louisville Slugger Factory, where more than 100 million bats were made.

"This building was established in 1901 and we continued to make bats here in 1974. But it did burn down in ‘74 and it's been vacant ever since," Hillerich explained.

John Hillerich is the President and CEO of Hillerich & Bradsby Company, the makers of the Louisville Slugger. He said it would have been easy to sell the two-acre parcel after the fire, but his family had a bigger vision for neighborhood.

"We're giving the property to the community foundation. And they're going to be stewards of the property. This is for the community," said Hillerich.

Valued at $1 million, the property will also go to the Wheelhouse Project, a community effort that will play a role in the revitalization in Smoketown.

YouthBuild Louisville programs, which encourage young people to be great citizens who build productive lives and sustainable communities, will also benefit from the land donation.

"If I'm in my community I'm going to want to say what happens. When you force things upon people it never ends well," Hillerich said.

Organizers hope to see a park or community center in the future, but exactly how it will be used is up to people in the area; like Jessica Bellamy, who grew up in Smoketown.

"There were always softball games. There was a lot of activity in the area. I don’t remember when there was ever a time where there wasn’t something to do. But in recent years, residents had to be displaced," said Bellamy.

Organizers are hoping to bring Smoketown back to life. 

Hillerich said he believes his great-great-grandfather, who started the bat company, would be proud.

“I think he would be saying good job. That's what I would want you to do."

Organizers will be spending the next six months getting feedback from residents on the project.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.