Historic downtown property to become short-term rental

The Howard Hardy House is at least 175 years old. | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA

The Howard Hardy House is 186 years old, according to the National Register of Historic Places. | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA

A 186-year-old building downtown will get new life as a short-term rental property.

The Howard Hardy House, at 429 S. Second St., started as a single-family home back in the 1830s, and in the late 19th century, it served as housing for medical students. From the early 1990s until 1998, it was transformed into the restaurant Miller’s Cafeteria.

However, during the last few years, it housed law offices for Robert Johnston and Alexander Wilson, as well as a single apartment at the back of the building.

Johnston and Wilson bought the property in 2014 for $358,600. In August, they sold it for $650,000 to Land Deleot and Johnson Phillips, who are both executives at the Nashville-based real estate company Equitable Property Co.

Although the property wasn’t on the market, Johnston said, the price was right. Deleot and Phillips also asked Johnston to stay on to help them redevelop the property.

“The building was not being used optimally,” Johnston said.

The new owners will invest six figures to renovate the interior of the property, including installing hardwood floors, tile and window treatments. Ellis Restoration & Remodeling is handling the renovation.

The building will offer five units of various sizes as short-term rentals, and a sixth unit will serve as office space, Johnston said, but it could become another short-term rental in the future.

“It’s really going to be a neat place,” he said.

The short-term rentals will be geared toward business travelers who will need a place to stay for a couple of weeks, but also will offer a one-of-a-kind option for tourists or people coming in for an event, Johnston said.

The Howard Hardy House is one of only two surviving pre-1840 residences in downtown Louisville and has the only known slave quarters in the Central Business District, according to information from the National Register of Historic Places.

“What we are trying to do is play on that unique building and make it a really unique destination,” he said. Rental rates will likely start at $120 a night, with higher rates on weekends and during major events, such as the Kentucky Derby.

With the influx of development downtown, Howard Hardy House’s owners are hopeful that the short-term rentals could fetch a pretty penny even with the Omni Hotel & Residences investing roughly $321 million in a 30-story hotel and apartment building across the street.