The 99 Year Old Motor School Garage to be Taken Down

The last remaining, unaltered building that was constructed during World War 1 at Camp Zachary Taylor, will be dismantled next week. The process will take several weeks to complete, and an attempt to save as much of the structure will be made. The building was the last structure built at the cantonment in 1918, and it almost made it to it’s 100th birthday. But due to water infiltration and rot, the 102′-0 long wooden trusses have caused them to begin to collapse. The building is in imminent danger of falling down.

Ariel view of the Motor School Garage – 2017

The Motor School at Camp Zachary Taylor, was designed to teach soldiers the repair of Trucks, Motorcycles, Automobiles and Artillery Pieces. At the onset of World War 1, the Army realized that there were not enough trained mechanics to provide support to the new mechanized division in the Army. Camp Zachary Taylor built the Largest Mechanic’s School in the World to train those soldiers.


The Motor School Garage was the second garage built. The original garage was 1/4 the size, and stood just a few yards north of the existing building. The New Garage building was 102′-6″ wide and 256′-0 long. The roof was curved and built using lattis trusses for a clear span over the entire building, and it had a concrete floor. A windowed clerestory ran the entire length of the building, allowing for natural light to illuminate the inside during the day.

The original building was taken down, and the lumber was salvaged for use in the new garage. It was announced on October 7, 1918 that the new garage, and additional buildings, would be constructed, which began the first week of November 1918.

View of Garage North Face – 2017

The cost to build all of the structures was $190,456.00. Construction continued until November 11, 1918, when the armistice was signed, halting all hostilities in Europe. The army issued orders immediately cancelling all construction projects in the United States.

North Face 2-07-2018

The Garage was put on hold, and it stood partially built until December 4, 1918, when new orders were issued, re-authorizing the construction to move forward.

View of Garage South Face – 2017

South Face 2-07-2018

Metro Parks uses this facility as their maintenance facility. Their plan is to build a new structure on the same spot, and approximately the same size. The new building will be an all steel structure, and will not resemble the Old Garage, other than it being the same size. The Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs, is working with Metro Parks and the City of Louisville to save as much of the original building material as possible. The City included in the budget of 2017 the cost to take down the building, and store the material (on site). It will be covered to protect it from the elements.

Our goal is to work with Metro Parks to help encourage the budget committee to provide funding in next years budget to include the funding to build a new stand alone structure in the cost to build the new garage.  The stand alone building would serve as a “History Center” for Camp Zachary Taylor. The History Center would incorporate a Museum and Learning Center that would focus on Camp Zachary Taylor, and Louisville’s participation in World War 1. The History Center building would incorporate as much of the timber and salvaged lumber from the garage in it’s construction.

We hope to get this accomplished in the next several years, and look forward to seeing this come to a reality. Anyone interested in more information about this project, or would like to volunteer in any capacity, please feel free to email us at

Image of building column after exterior sheeting removed, showing extensive damage to the structure.

Original Exterior tar paper that was applied to the building for weatherproofing. The ghost image of the baton strips are visible on the paper.


View of the North Face showing the window bays that ran the entire length of the building. The header in the first bay on the left has broken and is falling down. (indicated by arrow)