The Speed Mansion is located at 505 W. Ormsby Ave. | Courtesy of Laura Rice, Kentucky Select Properties

The Kentucky College of Art and Design (KyCAD) announced Wednesday afternoon that it will be expanding into an exciting new location in Old Louisville — the Speed Mansion, former home of J.B. Speed and Harriet “Hattie” Speed.

Louisville art lovers knew an expansion was coming. Back in April, KyCAD said they would be amicably ending their relationship with Spalding University and seeking accreditation to become a separate entity, in accordance with its longterm goals. The college also let us know they would be looking for a new physical location.

Since its beginning in the basement of 21c Museum Hotel a decade ago, KyCAD has continued to expand and grow.

The Kentucky College of Art + Design was founded in 2009. | Courtesy of KyCAD

Moving beyond its relationship with Spalding, the acquisition of the Speed Mansion, at 505 W. Ormsby Ave., falls in line neatly with KyCAD’s journey to stand on its own as an institution.

The original vision of Churchill Davenport, founder of KyCAD, was to be a world-class art and design school in Louisville.

The college won’t be giving up its digs on the Spalding campus, which includes 15,000 square feet of studios and the 849 Gallery, one of the best places to see challenging and breathtaking art in Louisville. At 16,700 square feet, the Speed Mansion will more than double KyCAD’s size and be used to house more classrooms and the administrative offices.

Tied into the amazing history of Louisville’s art scene, the mansion’s namesakes are the renowned art lovers J.B. and “Hattie” Speed. The mansion shares its namesake with the Speed Art Museum, which Hattie Speed founded after her husband’s death.

With the school expanding closer to Louisville’s biggest art museum, it’s easy to imagine how this move will contribute to the growth of the arts community, not just at large, but in Old Louisville in particular. The Speed and KyCAD have even partnered in the past, with the college utilizing space at the Speed and taking its students to the museum for regular visits.  

The Speed Mansion also is just around the corner from the summer home of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.

There are some cool features to the 16,700-square-foot mansion. | Courtesy of Laura Rice, Kentucky Select Properties

Hopefully we’ll see some team-ups and community partnerships, spurred on by the college’s new location. The proximity of other artistic institutions certainly isn’t lost on the folks at KyCAD.

“We’ll be close to Central Park, the Filson Historical Society and the Speed Art Museum — this is perfect,” said Davenport, who currently serves as KyCAD’s Chancellor, in a news release.

Moira Scott Payne | Photo courtesy of KyCAD

Current KyCAD President Moira Scott Payne also spoke to the location’s strategic strengths.

“The culturally diverse Old Louisville community that will be our home is a special place that has a long history of supporting the arts,” she said in the release. “Music, dance and theater are routinely supported by this active neighborhood.”

Insider will keep its ear to the ground for more updates.

Serendipitously, there is an event tonight, June 13, at KyCAD’s 849 Gallery. The DJ, activist, altar builder and truthseeker known simply as Scz (pronounced “seize”) is presenting “Lunation:: Gemini Loop.”

Visitors to this free event (7-10 p.m.) will experience everything from dazzling visuals to booming dance beats, from calming teas to tarot readings. Scz is one half of Rhythm Science Sounds, and partner Yared Sound will be performing as well.