Biographical / Historical
Patricia Ropke Updegraff, a lifelong Louisvillian, was born in 1920 and died on her 94th birthday in 2014. After graduating from University of Louisville, she established a day care for children of mothers who were involved in the war effort. She and husband Norman C. Updegraff were co-editors of the Louisville Engineer and Scientist, a monthly publication, from 1945 to 1964. From 1960 to 1968, she volunteered as manager of the Louisville Youth Orchestra. She was clerk or sheriff at her local polling place for thirty-five years, and a member and trustee of Highland Presbyterian Church. She sang for thirty-seven years in the chorus of the Louisville Bach Society, which she also served as secretary, program editor and translator. She was a board member of the Fund for the Arts, a member of the Filson Historical Society, the Kentucky Historical Society, the Caldwell County Historical Society, the Fincastle Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Monday Afternoon Club, the German-American Club, the Woodcock Society and Friends of the School of Music at the University of Louisville, and was a Kentucky Colonel.
Updegraff and a friend, Mrs. J. Paul Keith, successfully opposed plans of the Woman's Club of Louisville to raze two residences on South Fourth Street to create a parking lot for the club. The Woman’s Club of Louisville had purchased 1328 and 1332 South Fourth Street with plans to raze them in order to build a parking lot for the club members. Updegraff, the Landmark Commission, the Preservation Alliance, and community members fought this action, and the battle was extensively covered in the local press. In an attempt to save the houses from destruction, Updegraff decided to provide other means of parking. After exploring several options and with contributions from community members, she purchased a property on Park Avenue to use as a parking lot. The city filed lawsuits against the Woman’s Club which eventually reached the Kentucky Supreme Court (City of Louisville vs. Woman’s Club, No. 76-298, December 17, 1976). The court ruled that the city had the right to purchase the property, but the city was not able to provide all the funds. Community members donated, and the two buildings were purchased by the city and later sold with the understanding that they would be restored.