Speed Mansion, 1883
505 West Ormsby in Old Louisville was built in 1883 by prominent contractor Dexter Belknap. The Victorian mansion was meticulously embellished with the finest materials of the day. After Belknap's death, the mansion was purchased in 1893 by James Breckinridge Speed, grandson of Judge John Speed, builder of Farmington Historic Plantation. Speed was an influential businessman and leader, presiding over many companies including the Louisville Railway Co. and the Ohio Valley Telephone Co.
His first wife died shortly after moving into the mansion. In 1902 he remarried at the age of 62 to the colorful 48-year-old Harriet "Hattie" Bishop. She was well educated, and had studied six years in Europe to become an accomplished concert pianist.The mansion was the scene of elegant parties often covered in the newspapers.
After James' death, Hattie became a prominent humanitarian and philanthropist, helping to establish the J. B. Speed Art Museum and Speed Scientific School. She added a music auditorium to the mansion that was to become the cultural center of Louisville for decades. She died in 1942, establishing many endowments. In the book "Ghost of Old Louisville," witnesses say she still walks the galleries of the Speed Art Museum rearranging artwork and a classical piano has been heard playing in the mansion.