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Sinking Fund Building
Louisville Sinking Fund Building.jpg
Alternative names Fire Station No. 2
Louisville Metro Office Building
General information
Address 617 W. Jefferson St.
Town or city Louisville, Kentucky
Country United States
Completed 1891
Renovated 1937
Architectural Romanesque
Technical details
Material Red sandstone and bricks
Floor count 5
Design and construction
Architect McDonald Brothers
Designations National Register of Historic Places, 1976

The Sinking Fund Building, also known as Firehouse No. 2, is an historic building in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Located on Jefferson Street between Louisville Metro Police Headquarters and the Louisville City Hall Annex building, it is part of the municipal office complex that comprises several neighboring blocks. The building currently houses the office of the Louisville Metro Revenue Commission, the primary municipal taxing authority for the city-county government. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.


As a fire station

The building was designed by the McDonald Brothers architectural firm of Louisville as a fire department headquarters. Constructed in 1891, it was financed by a sinking fund, which led to its subsequent name.

Made of red sandstone and bricks, it was designed in a Richardsonian Romanesque design. The building originally had a five-story drying tower, supporting a belfry tower, that was used as a lookout to survey the surrounding area for signs of fire. Subsequently, the belfry tower was removed from the building. The facade of the building features relief sculptures of Benjamin Bache, the fire chief at the time, and Emile Bourlier, who was a bookkeeper for the sinking fund. Three large arches located at the base of the structure once served doorways for the horse-drawn fire engines housed in the building; the second floor was originally used as offices and sleeping quarters for the firemen.

After the fire department moved out in 1937 to new facilities at 12th and Jefferson, the police traffic department moved in. Funds had been set aside for reconditioning the building to house the police headquarters, but they were diverted to reconstruction work after the Ohio River flooded that year. The patrol division joined the traffic bureau in 1943.

Becoming the Sinking Fund Building

By the mid-1950s, the police department had moved out. In 1957, the name "Sinking Fund Building" was used for the first time when a $97,000 renovation package gave the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund additional space on the first floor; the upper floors, used by the Welfare Department, received air conditioning as part of the remodel. The Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, an agency originally chartered by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1852, were the predecessor to the Louisville Metro Revenue Commission. The building housed the city's tax collectors at multiple times in its history. It was also used to house equipment for a study of downtown air pollution in the mid-1960s.

In 1969, a consultant working with the city recommended the building be torn down as part of construction of a modern civic complex; the proposed $23.4 million governmental complex went to Jefferson County voters in November 1970 but was defeated by 15,000 votes. Less than six years later, in September 1976, the city hall complex and Sinking Fund Building were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Louisville Department of Building and Housing Inspection moved from City Hall to the Sinking Fund Building in 1975; the building was remodeled to accommodate the city department, including the installation of an elevator. The renovation, which continued into the late 1970s, also included restoration work, such as the uncovering of the names of Bache and Bourlier on the front entrance.

Citing a lack of space, the Sinking Fund moved out of 617 W. Jefferson in 1992 to offices on West Main Street, where it was able to consolidate its archives that were in the Sinking Fund Building and City Hall; the Revenue Commission later returned to the building. The permit agency also relocated in 2004.

Coordinates: 38°15′16″N 85°45′41″W / 38.2545°N 85.7613°W / 38.2545; -85.7613

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