James H. Noland 1950 – 1958
James H. Noland, the first mayor of St. Matthews, was one of three men who organized the St. Matthews Community Center in 1945 to provide desperately needed recreational facilities for youngsters in the area. By then he was well known as a community leader and in the later 1940’s, when St. Matthews fended off repeated annexation efforts by the city of Louisville, Noland was among those who lead the resistance efforts and organized the community. He was chairman of the five member board that incorporated St. Matthews as a sixth-class city in 1950, and was immediately chosen to serve as mayor. From then on he was known to one and all as “Mayor Jim”.
Noland’s home at 3937 Kennison Avenue- which had been the only house on the block when he moved in, sometime prior to 1930-served as City Hall from 1950 to 1954. The city initially consisted of only three square blocks, but Noland engineered a major annexation in 1953 that added about 5,000 residents, and St. Matthews became a fourth-class city the following year. Noland, a native of Frankfort, served as mayor without pay until September 30,1958, when poor health forced him to resign. He continued advising city officials on policy matters until his death in 1960 at age 65.
Noland, who often put in 50-hour weeks in service of city residents, explained his devotion this way: “I guess I enjoy getting things done.” After his death, a council member told The Courier-Journal that Noland was “a man of great compassion” who always shunned the limelight and “sometimes paid with his own money the taxes of people who didn’t have the money to meet their city obligations.” After the battles over annexation, Noland’s principal challenge was dealing with severe drainage problems in low-lying parts of St. Matthews.
Noland started his business career with Louisville Bedding Co. in 1912. After Army service overseas during World War I he returned to Louisville. In 1924 he helped organize the Kentucky Sanitary Bedding Co., and served as its vice president. He was a longtime leader at Beargrass Christian Church, a president of the St. Matthews Rotary Club, a district chairman of the Old Kentucky Home Boy Scout Council, and a member of the board of the Christian Church Widows and Orphans Home. Noland resigned as mayor in 1958 for reasons of poor health, and was succeeded by businessman and engineer Bernie Bowling Sr., who directed the city for 26 years.