Jena Blythe Rosenberg was born in Louisville, and has never lived more than five miles away from where she was born by Churchill Downs! However, she has traveled extensively throughout the world. Howard was also born and raised here, attending Seneca High School and leaving the city only for one- and two-year stints to work in Wisconsin and South Carolina, respectively. But because some things are meant to be, their paths finally crossed in 2001.
In 1982, Howard moved into his first Old Louisville residence – a duplex on St. James Court across from the fountain. A few years later, he purchased a carriage house on Fourth Street, which was the first property he ever owned. It was here that he raised his oldest son David, a 1988 graduate of Louisville’s Youth Performing Arts School. He later owned a home on Garvin Place. A job took him to South Carolina in 1997, but he returned to Louisville after two years to live in Crescent Hill. However, fate (and Jena) would bring him back to Old Louisville.
Originally attending school to become a teacher, Jena quickly realized that wasn’t the career for her and instead applied to nursing school. After obtaining her nursing degree, she began working in Kosair Children’s Hospital Neo-Natal department, where she was employed for 31 years until retirement. Jena lived on the 22nd floor of the 800 building for more thirteen years before deciding to move to Old Louisville. She purchased 1202 S Sixth Street in 1999 from long-time active neighborhood resident, Cindy Venable, and her daughter. This and the two homes to the south were both built by the same architect for the same family and served as sister homes to the Ormsby family. Built in 1892, and having withstood several transformations (as have many Old Louisville structures), the house needed some upgrades. While undergoing the needed renovations and cosmetic changes, Jena lived in the home’s current living room, adding her personal decorative touches along the way.
In 2001, Howard was invited to the Garvin Gate Neighborhood Association’s progressive holiday dinner, which ended with Jena hosting the dessert course at her house. They met that evening, and while their conversation was brief, they kept in touch and began dating. In 2004, Howard and Jena eloped to New Orleans (where they still travel frequently) with only three other people in attendance at their wedding ceremony! The following year Howard sold his house in Crescent Hill, which he’d kept until his youngest son Randall graduated from high school, and joined Jena full-time in Old Louisville at 1202 S Sixth Street.
Since occupying the house together, Jena and Howard have made several notable changes. Their first project in 2005 was a total renovation of the kitchen, including the addition of a tin roof. Over the years they have replaced the roof on the rest of the house, put in a new air conditioning unit, painted every room throughout, added crown molding and renovated both bathrooms.
Jena and Howard also refinished the original hardwood floors on the stairs and second floor landing. Another unique feature of the home is that except in the living room, there are very few ninety-degree angles. Their home is decorated throughout with art collected over the years from the St. James Court Art Show. They also have every official Art Show poster since Sonny Whittle and Mark Bird began collaborating on these collectible prints in the 1980s (they even have some of the unofficial student art drawings done to advertise the show prior to that). Jena is also an avid collector of 1940s cigarette cases, vintage and modern art glass perfume bottles, antique barware, mah-jongg sets, and other items, all of which are on display throughout the entryway and living room.
Howard and Jena alternate their holiday celebrations between Christmas and Hanukah. This year, tour-goers will be treated to full Hanukah decorations, including a fully set Hanukah table and menorahs throughout. Also notice the Mezuzahs located on every doorframe, the history of which will be shared during the tour.
Howard and Jena are no strangers to neighborhood involvement. Howard has served as the president of the Old Louisville Neighborhood Council since 2014 and has chaired the Garvin Gate Blues Festival since 2007. Jena is a member of both the Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour and Victorian Tales of Terror committees, and has hand sewn costumes for the latter. Both can also be found volunteering regularly to help other neighborhood events including SpringFest, Old Louisville Live, the St. James Court Art Show and more. A heartfelt thanks to the Rosenbergs for opening their home during the Holiday Home Tour, Old Louisville’s primary fundraiser.