Wheelhouse Project

wheelhouse [hweel-hous]: noun. (baseball) the point of power where a bat and ball meet to produce a home run

The Wheelhouse Project is located on a 2-acre property in Smoketown that was once home to the original Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Louisville Slugger® Bat factory. The project creates a pathway to allow area youth, their families, and longtime residents of the neighborhood to participate in the economic advancement of their community.

Engaging with neighbors over a 3-year period resulted in over 2,000 points of input and a clear message. Residents identified three priorities: improved quality of life, a safe place for children to play and community green space. In response an innovative partnership has formed: Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, and the Community Foundation of Louisville will come together to offer a safe destination for high-quality youth, family, and natural play programming, including 250 youth age 6-18 who are Smoketown residents. Thanks to this strong vision, many more partnerships within the community will form as the project develops.

Smoketown holds a rich and important history as one of the first African American communities to emerge after the Civil War that became a thriving center of entrepreneurship. Decades of disinvestment in the neighborhood infrastructure have resulted in high unemployment and poverty rates and loss of neighborhood businesses, yet there remain many assets on which to build - in particular a resilient, strong culture.

The future Wheelhouse Project site will meet the needs of next-century learners, shift from concrete mass to urban oasis, and provide a central hub for community connection through the following built and programmatic features:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs proven, quality youth programs and headquarter offices
  • Kids Café distributes over 300 meals per week
  • Separate teen center doubles as a makerspace with dynamic teaching technology and job skills training
  • Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest brings learning through nature-based play and sustainability
  • Community green space includes diverse landforms, mature shade trees, and an integrated water feature
  • A living roof provides hands-on learning and inviting gathering space
  • Dynamic, multi-purpose spaces available outside of traditional hours encourage intergenerational connections through planned partnerships and collaborations
  • Indoor gymnasium allows for physical activities suchas dance and indoor sports for all ages


The Wheelhouse Project’s intent is to honor the neighborhood's important heritage and identity while working toward a bright, hopeful future by:

  • Delivering after-school, summer, weekend activities and programming for neighborhood youth, families, adults and seniors
  • Developing a vacant property into a healthy, green, dynamic space for learning, playing, and gathering
  • Investing in innovation to encourage individual and community health and wellbeing

You may make a secure credit card donation to support the Wheelhouse Project Fund below. Checks may be made payable to the Community Foundation of Louisville, denoting Wheelhouse Project in the memo line.

Please mail checks to:

Community Foundation of Louisville
325 W. Main Street, Suite 1110
Louisville, KY 40202

All contributions represent an irrevocable contribution to the Community Foundation of Louisville and are not refundable.

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Kate Biagi-Rickert
Director of Stewardship
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For questions about grant distributions from your fund, contact:

Michael Pfaff
Grants Associate

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For questions about gifts to your fund, contact:

Elise Waddell
Development & Stewardship Senior Associate

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325 W. Main Street, Suite 1110 / Louisville, KY 40202 / 502.585.4649