To be Saved, Anatok (an African-American and Religious Landmark) Needs Help TODAY

Anatok – Bardstown, Ky.
(Photo: Courier-Journal)

In 1847, Daniel Rudd was born in Nelson County, Kentucky at the home of his mother’s master, Charles Hayden. (Rudd’s father was the property of the Rudd family whose estate was nearby.)  This slave would go on to establish the American Catholic Tribune and found the National Black Catholic Congress.

The Tribune was “the only Catholic Journal owned and published by colored men.” The Congress, established in 1889, continues to this day with a mission of enriching the lives of African American Catholics.

Anatok, the mansion in which Rudd was born, is directly across from the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral. In 1808, the Diocese of Bardstown was established along with the Dioceses of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston (all carved out of the Baltimore Diocese). Later, the Diocese of Bardstown would be relocated to the more populous Louisville – but the importance of Catholicism is key to the history of this Kentucky region.

Daniel Rudd

Rudd’s slave parents were both custodians at the Proto-Cathedral and Catholicism was a key part of Rudd’s daily life – from cradle to grave.

But the mansion, Anatok, in which Rudd was born is facing possible demolition as the neighboring Bethlehem High School seeks to expand. Though preservationists were successful in obtaining a temporary injunction on demolition, the time is running out. Funds must be gathered today for matching funding so that preservationists can partner with the high school to adapt and reuse the mansion as educational space.

As noted in a press release by Preservation Kentucky, “if preserved, this historic site would be the only site directly associated with the rise of Black Catholicism in Bardstown – known as the cradle of Catholicism in the early 19th century on the Western Frontier.”

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Matching funds to a $125,000 grant have been achieved, so the total raised now has eclipsed $250,000. This is only half way to the finish line of $500,000! (Other contributions (in-kind, tax credit) also help toward the goal.)  The good news is that Bethlehem High School has extended the deadline to July 15 (date deconstruction of Anatok will begin) – if sufficient funds can be raised in the next 45 days, Anatok can be saved!

A JULY 8, 2013 UPDATE: Preservation groups have raised over $300,000, but plans appear to be moving forward toward the demolition of Anatok. [WFPL]

A JULY 30, 2013 UPDATE: A judge has reinstated the injunction preventing the demolition of Anatok. Stay tuned for more details!

Please contact Preservation Kentucky at if you can help save this important piece of both Kentucky history.