Cherubic Statuary Hidden in Plain Sight Off Ormsby Station Rd Near Hurstbourne Lane (Unseen Louisville No. 5)

August 2, 2008

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve biked past this oddity perched atop a small incline in the Hurstbourne Green Office Park next to Ormsby Station Road in eastern Jefferson County in Louisville, Ky. All that I can say is I somehow never saw this bit of statuary; completely invisible to me in plain sight until last week. So, we make this mystery statue the subject of the fifth installment of our Unseen Louisville series. I know I’ve written too many of these Unseen Louisville segments about stuff found in the Hurstbourne Green area, but since these things are close to my house and they keep popping up in my own backyard, I say, why not? This statue with a cherubic theme obviously is a leftover remnant of the old Ormsby Village orphanage campus that sprawled all over this part of the county from 1920 to 1967 (see my earlier posting on this from last year). Now it’s all office parks, but, thankfully when the new stuff was being built someone at least had the good sense to leave this bit of statuary around instead of demolishing it or carting it away to some anonymous fate. There is no descriptive plaque on the statue, so I can’t tell you the first thing about the artist, the foundry, the date of creation and installation, title of the work, or anything else. Perhaps someone out there can provide more information. Being somewhat ignorant of styles and motivations in art history, it’s hard for me to fathom what predilections pseudo-Renaissance stylists had that inspired them to depict what appear to be children slathering around in grape juice in some sort of orgiastic reverie. We will post that information in the comments section below or in a future posting. So, lacking anything substantial, I’ll share with you a few of the images I took of this interesting, elaborate sculpture. -EG






Forest Green Fitness Trail at Hurstbourne Green Office Park (Unseen Louisville No. 4)

June 16, 2008

It has been awhile since our last Unseen Louisville posting. That our latest entry should be relatively unknown should not be surprising, since it is new, or rather, is a newly monikered way to present a setting that was already there. In a low-lying heavily wooded area adjacent to the ever-growing office sprawl in the Hurstbourne Lane and Ormsby Station Road area of Eastern Jefferson County is a graveled fitness trail cut through some of the last (relatively) untouched deep woods in that part of town. The Forest Green Fitness trail begins at the back edge of a vast parking lot for several new post-modern glass boxes a few hundred yards south of a McDonalds. (Specifically the parcel is bounded to the north by Forest Green Blvd which parallels the slightly more northerly Hurstbourne Lane and to the west by the head of Dorsey Way and to the east by Dorsey Lane). The woods there seem to have been set aside as part of mitigation, I suspect, required by planning and zoning to ensure that some green space remains in the area. I visited the trail this past weekend, and a nice day it was too, as the following pictures will show. On the way there I checked out another bit of unseen Louisville that I only recently discovered—a wide tunnel that passes directly under Hurstbourne Lane adjacent to the McDonalds. I’ve biked through this tunnel several times in the last few weeks without ever encountering one soul there. If you go there, be careful, it gets mighty dark; the lights do not appear to be working. If you bike, be careful not to hit anyone that might pop up while you’re going through there. Use a headlight. The fitness trail to the south is officially closed after dusk, which only makes sense. You probably don’t want to be down there after hours. During the day the dense foliage makes the air noticeably cooler. While I was visiting, a group of kids were sitting at a picnic table in a clearing, resting from doing whatever it is that kids do in the woods. Make sure you have good heavy mountain bike treads if you try to bike the gravel, as it gets fairly thick and loose in spots. The sign at the ‘official’ entrance (although there are several places to enter the trail) says the path is a mile long, but it only seemed to me to be at best a half mile, at least on the parts passable by bike. I know it only took me a couple minutes to bike it from west to east. There are some wooden steps to the east that were impassable by bike, so maybe that constitutes the rest. A walking trip in the future will tell or not. The creek water that runs alongside some of the trail is contaminated by suburban runoff, as several ‘no swimming’ signs note. I ran into at least three spider webs across the path, indication that not too many people walk through here much. Anyway, here are some views of the trail and of some of the office park area surrounding. You’ll notice my old Roadmaster pressed into service in some of these shots; that’s because my regular bike is in the shop for repairs (broken axle; happens to me all the time). Also, at the end of this series is depicted an awesome perfect anvil-shaped cloud that I captured just before it dissipated at dusk. -EG


Be Very Afraid: Old Ormsby Village House—Trick of the Light, or Something More? (Unseen Louisville No. 1)

June 18, 2007

100_0736-curious-skull-2.jpgAt dusk last night I biked through the Hurstbourne Green Office Park in Eastern Jefferson County, east of Louisville. Long before this area sprouted with corporate glass boxes and manicured greenery, it once was considered the “country.” That’s why back in the 1920s a home and complex for “wayward” children was built here on the advanced idea that rehabilitating kids in the fresh rural air would do them better than punishing them and forcing them to stay in prison-like buildings in the grimy city.

From 1920 to 1967, The Louisville and Jefferson County Children’s Home operated properties in this part of the county, one for white kids called Ormsby Village and another for black kids called Ridgewood (about a mile or less to the southeast).

100_0750-ormsby-rd.jpgOrmsby Village was mostly cleared out in the ’80s and ’90s for development, yet one large and very stately home from the complex still stands almost completely hidden behind a lush grove of trees. Few people in the area seem to realize that this creepy, but beautiful old abandoned home still exists just a few yards from the corner of Ormsby Station Road and Ormbsy Station Court. It appears, at least from the exterior, to be maintained somewhat, possibly by the managers of the office park. It doesn’t appear dilapidated, but there is no sign of life inside. The windows reveal a pitch dark interior. The house stands like a ghost, out of place in its time. Very eerie and isolated despite being in the middle of heavy development.

I took pictures of all sides of the house, but a sense of foreboding kept me from venturing any closer than about 10 yards. The thick hedgerow surrounding the house presented a slight obstacle to closer view, but the sense that something might be hiding in the hedgerow—a crazy caretaker or some such—made me feel some trepidation. And those large pitch-dark windows were like big black irises. You felt a head might appear from the gloom and peer out at you at any minute.

100_0731-14faroff.jpgI didn’t see anything out of the ordinary as I snapped the pix, but when I got home I used the zoom feature on my camera to see if I could glean more exterior details of the house. I was very impressed by the sweeping iron portico around the front entrance. I had wanted to get closer shots of these, but as I said, I felt better keeping my distance.

As I started looking at zoom-ins of many of the windows, I noted lots of patterns created in the glass due to the reflection of light and tree leaf shadows and the wavy nature of the old-style panes.

In several of the panes I noticed shapes that resembled human forms: faces, a devil head, an old woman, and a skeleton like figure. I believe that these are nothing more than tricks of the light created by the conditions I previously described.

However, fans of the paranormal still might find this of interest.

Check out this scan-in view of the house-front. And pay particular attention to the dark window at the upper right.

I took several pictures of this housefront, each from only a very slightly different angle and distance. Yet, even these slight changes of perspective changed the light patterns in the windows significantly. Either that, or something inside the house changed between the times I took the shots. (Images copyright Evan G, please note)

Reflections of leaves, or something else….?

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Now, check this view of the back side of the house. Then look at the zoom-in of one of the windows of the second floor…

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A nurse caretaker, perhaps?

And below, on yet another side of the house (facing southeast), we have an oddity depicted in the widow at bottom left. Somehow a knight from Monty Python’s Flying Circus seems to have taken up residence… And to the right, notice the frolicking skeletal figure profile.

 

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And below, if you strain a bit, you can make out a demon-faced fellow peering back in this next one…

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So maybe the Ormsby Village house should be thought of in the same way as the popular haunting spot, the old Waverly Hills Sanatorium on the far southwest side of the county.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for Art Bell to call…

-EG

 


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