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Patricia Updegraff papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2000_016-UA

The collection contains materials from Patricia Updegraff related to preservation of historic buildings in Old Louisville. The bulk concern preservation efforts in the 1970s to save two homes on Fourth Street in Louisville from demolition.

The major players in this controversy included Updegraff; Marjorie C. Gott, the president of the Woman’s Club; W. Scott Miller Jr, the lawyer for the Woman’s Club; Frank Rankin, the chairman of the Landmarks Commission; and Harvey Sloane, the mayor of Louisville at the time.

In addition to the Fourth Street houses case, materials are included from Updegraff’s research into preservation of historic buildings in Louisville, throughout Kentucky, and throughout the United States.

The bulk of the contents are newspaper clippings, correspondence between various parties, and handwritten notes (presumably written by Patricia Updegraff). Petitions, bulletins, newsletters, copies of court documents, maps/blueprints, photographs, and histories of the two Fourth Street houses also appear. Some of the files seem to have been collected by a Marie Dickson, whose relationship to Updegraff is unclear.


  • 1973-1982


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to the University of Louisville; please consult a reference archivist for more information.


1.25 linear feet (2 manuscript boxes, 1 half-manuscript box)

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 served for decades as clerk or sheriff at her local polling place and as member and trustee of Highland Presbyterian Church; she was a singer in the chorus of the Louisville Bach Society and served as its secretary, program editor, and translator. A board member of the Fund for the Arts, Updegraff was active in many local and state historical societies and was a Kentucky Colonel.

Updegraff and friend Sarah Sherwood Keith (often reported as Mrs. J. Paul Keith) successfully opposed plans of the Woman's Club of Louisville to raze two residences on South Fourth Street. The Woman’s Club of Louisville had purchased 1328 and 1332 South Fourth Street with plans turn the lots into 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 gathering 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.


The arrangement of folders of specific areas of historic preservation research are original to Updegraff: Cherokee Triangle, Butchertown, University of Louisville, Cast Iron, etc.

Some of the newspaper clippings were arranged by Updegraff by year; these are in Box 2 Folder 8 with dividers separating the years.


Patricia Updegraff Papers
Lauren Bickel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752