See the lavish Theophilus Conrad-Caldwell mansion in Old Louisville

Theophilus Conrad-Caldwell mansion in Old Louisville

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The magnificent “Conrad’s Folly” or “Conrad’s Castle,” the Theophilus Conrad house in Louisville, Kenutucky, took two years to build, and was completed in 1895.

This vast, all-limestone mansion was designed for Conrad, a wealthy businessman, by architect Arthur Loomis at the peak of his career.

Three years after Mr Conrad died in 1905, the house was purchased by the Caldwell family. It only remained a single-family residence for a few more decades.

In the 1940s, it became a high-end boarding house, and then for many years, it served as a church home for elderly women. The Victorian-era residence now opens its doors to thousands of visitors in its new role as a museum.

Theophilus Conrad house: A new look for old “Castle”

From the Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) September 24, 1967

The “castle” at 1402 St. James Court isn’t new. It just looks that way.

Sandblasting recently removed 72 years of soot and grime from the three-story house built in 1895 by Theophilus Conrad (1832-1905), a tanner who came to Louisville from Europe as a boy.

Theophilus Conrad house A new look for the old Castle (1967)

The cleaning has renewed the many faces of the gargoyles, lions and other figures that adorn that building’s exterior. Such decorations, plus pinnacles, galleries and towers are, in part, responsible for the building’s often being called “The Castle.”

The name is not unjust: Architect Arthur Loomis patterned the design after a castle on the Rhine River in Germany.

The ornate designs are not limited to the exterior. Inside, each of 20 rooms has a different geometrical design in hardwood floors, plus other elaborate adornments.

The building now is the Rose Anna Hughes Presbyterian Home for 30 women age 65 and over.

Theophilus Conrad
Theophilus Conrad
About the historic Conrad-Caldwell mansion

Adapted from the National Register of Historic Places nomination form (1974)

No residence in Old Louisville is more lavishly ornamented with the most refined and skilled work of the stone-carver, or was more expensive in its day. (The original cost was at least $35,000.)

This design is one of the purest examples of the influence of the great American architect H H Richardson in the Falls of the Ohio region, although Loomis maintains a quality all his own, particularly in the details that relieve, in some cases even whimsically, the bold Syrian or Romanesque round arches,  the varied and deeply set window embrasures, and the massive turrets that seem to grow out of the nobly-massed main block. The interior woodwork is cherry, maple and oak.


The exterior of the Conrad-Caldwell House

Here is how the front of the Theophilus T Conrad house looked from the southeast

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A side view of the front of this Kentucky mansion

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The Theophilus Conrad Home

This stately home is located at 1402 St James Court, Louisville, Kentucky

The Theophilus Conrad Home - Victorian mansion

DON’T MISS: Spreckels Mansion in San Francisco: See the luxurious old home of sugar magnate Claus Spreckels (1897)


The mansion’s front portico

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Portico with stone carving detail

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Stone and roof detail on the Conrad-Caldwell mansion in Louisville

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Look at the exterior stonework of the Theophilus T Conrad House

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The interior of this home

Fireplace mantel detail on the north wall of the first floor (right side of house)

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ALSO SEE: 21 Southern mansions & plantation homes from the Old South


Woodwork detail of the second-floor balcony

The large hanging light fixture was created between 1905 and 1925

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First floor hall, looking to the front entrance

The lighting fixture shown here is from between 1915 and 1935

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Looking west from the first floor hall

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The view from the northeast room to the staircase (first floor)

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The mansion’s parlor (on the left side of the house)

The lighting fixture shown was made between 1895 and 1905

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Photos from the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey

ALSO SEE: See Samuel Colt’s famously over-the-top Victorian mansion, Armsmear

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