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Alvin and Sallie Hert

In this Et Cetera, we profile a Louisville power couple whose home later became a significant part of the City of Hurstborne.

Indiana-born Alvin Tobias Hert was a successful businessman and politician. As a young man, Alvin T. Hert was a traveling salesman and served as warden of the Indiana Reformatory in Jeffersonville, Indiana, which later became the Colgate-Palmolive Plant.

Following his resignation from the penitentiary in 1902, Mr. Hert moved to Louisville where he started his profitable American Creosoting Company.

Mr. Hert got started in politics when he was elected as mayor of Brazil, IN, in 1895. Later, he helped manage the presidential campaign of Charles Evans Hughes, assisted in securing the presidential nomination of Warren G. Harding and was a head adviser to Will H. Hays, Harding’s campaign manager. Hert was a Republican National Committeeman for years.

Alvin T Hert’s sudden death in 1921 was headline news across the country. According to The New York Times, President Harding described Hert as “a good friend and an eminent citizen” and that he was “highly esteemed and much beloved.”

Those sentiments are echoed in the dedication of a historic bridge at Louisville’s Cherokee Park. The 1923 memorial is on the park’s Scenic Loop, near Maple Road.

Mr. Hert’s wife, Sallie Aley Hert, shared his interest and involvement in politics. She was vice chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1924-1936, state chairman of the Republican women of Kentucky, and eventually head of the GOP women’s organization nationally.

In 1929, Mrs. Hert was even rumored to become the first woman to serve in the U.S. cabinet, according to TIME magazine. She also gave the seconding speech for the nomination of Herbert Hoover in 1932.

The couple’s country home, the idyllic Hurstbourne Farms, became Mrs. Hert’s permanent residence from 1928 until her death in 1948.

The elaborate estate was comprised of 13-hundred acres, and the house – called Lyndon Hall - had 35 rooms.

Today, part of the estate makes up the City of Hurstbourne, Kentucky, a Louisville suburb. A portion of the property and Lyndon Hall are now the site of the Hurstbourne Country Club.

Etc.:

  • Mr. Hert had many successful business ventures. One of his roles was as director of the National Bank of Kentucky.
  • According to The Bloomfield News, the Hert’s Louisville residence was located at 1349 South Third Street.
  • Alvin T. Hert died in Washington D.C., on business for the Republican National Committee. He was 56.
  • Alvin T. Hert’s funeral was held at Hurstbourne Farms. According to The New York Times, honorary pall-bearers included members of President Harding’s Cabinet, governors and other prominent politicians and businessmen. (NYT)
  • It was said that Mr. Hert conferred with his wife on his matters of business. Following his death, Sallie A. Hert became chairman of the board of American Creosoting Co., which her husband founded in 1904.
  • American Creosoting eventually controlled 15 other companies, including a Canadian firm.
  • Mr. Hert’s business office was located in the legendary Columbia Building, which was once the tallest building in the south.
  • The center section of the Hurstborne Country Club, formerly the Hert home, is believed to have been built in 1818 (City of Hursbourne). The Herts purchased the home in 1915.
  • According to the City of Hursbourne, Mr. Hert had a great love of farming and that Mrs. Hert had peacocks at Hurstbourne. Mrs. Hert’s saddle horse and a German police dog are buried in marked graves on the estate, which have been maintained.
  • Alvin T and Sallie A. Hert are buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery.
  • The Alvin T. Hert Memorial Bridge (also known as Cherokee Bridge #4) was heavily damaged by a car and vandalism in 2006. The historic stone bridge has since been restored. However, this was not the bridge’s first restoration. It was repaired once before, after it was damaged by a tornado in 1974. The bridge is over Beargrass Creek.

The University of Louisville University Archives and Photographic Archives (ULPA) provided many of the photographs seen in this segment.

Program 422
Churchill Downs executive John Asher, Fourth Street's Theater Square Marketplace, Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia, gardening expert Cindi Sullivan and more on this edition of "Louisville Life". (#422)