Bowman Valley

In the first hour of Friday morning, Buckman Street was quiet.

Then, there were lights — police cruiser blues and reds circling bright white spotlights pointing to the Bowman Valley Schoolhouse as it glided past the Bullitt County Courthouse.

The African-American schoolhouse, aboard a truck, was in the middle of a six-mile trip from its original location on Cooper Run Road to a new spot on Ky. 44.

The trip was going faster than anticipated, but the 98-year-old school’s journey to the move — about three years in the making — took longer than ever imagined when a committee of Bullitt County residents first proposed the idea.

“It’s a lot of hard work from a lot of people, and it’s finally coming together and finally moving to it’s new location, and we’re excited about it,” committee member Tammy Ott said.

Volunteers and donors pooled resources to save the Bowman Valley schoolhouse from demolition. The 1916 building was moved from Cooper Run Road to a new spot on Ky. 44.

The Bowman Valley Schoolhouse was built in 1916 and closed in 1957 after schools were desegregated. Over the years, the building has been broken into and vandalized. It’s roof is leaking, and boards around its base are rotting. It wouldn’t have lasted another winter if something wasn’t done, Ott said.

The committee couldn’t let a piece of Bullitt County history end that way, so a year ago they started plans to move the school to a spot on the Board of Education’s property next to the Woodsdale School — a 126-year-old one-room schoolhouse for white students that was moved and restored about 20 years ago.

Fundraising efforts for the project stalled, however, until Louisville developer Lee Wilburn came on board in May. Wilburn, owner of Crossdock Development, has since provided contacts, resources and funding to make the move a reality.

“I think it’s important for people today, especially children, to understand things used to be quite different,” he said.

At one time, Bowman Valley was one of at least eight African-American schools in the county. It had two classrooms — one for grades first through fourth, and the other for fifth through eighth — and no more than a few dozen students attended at any time.

Louisville resident Betty Hadnot was one of those students. She attended the school from first through sixth grades before moving to Shepherdsville Middle School during integration.

“We got our start here,” Hadnot said about Bowman. “I’m excited that they’re moving it.”

Hadnot watched the move early Friday morning along with fellow alumni Charles and Darlene Ayers. She said she’s happy the school is being recognized and hopes to get more alumni involved in the committee’s future plans.

The committee raised about $15,000 to complete the move — which included building a foundation at the new site and removing the roof so the building would fit beneath power lines — but will continue seeking donations to restore the school now that it’s on the Board of Education property.

The group wants to restore one of the classrooms to appear as it would have when students still attended the school, and turn the other classroom into a technology room that would feature videos of alumni talking about Bowman’s history.

Doctoral students at Bellarmine University have volunteered to make the videos, committee member Gwinn Hahn said. One student, Leslie Ashford, has also been working on grant applications and recently received a $1,000 grant from Walmart for the project.

Charles Ayers, who attended Bowman from first through third grades, said he is grateful from what he learned from his teachers there and appreciates the committee’s work to make sure future students know the county’s history.

“They can study what people went through,” he said. “It was a way of life then, but now, it probably seems terrible.”

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