2011 Honors Awards

The Louisiana Trust Honor Awards recognize individuals and organizations that have, in the recent past, made significant and major contributions toward saving and restoring historic structures.

The purpose may be extended to include the natural environment only if it can be related to a structure or structures of historic significance. Legislative and Educational awards may be expanded beyond the scope of structures to include additional areas of historic preservation. Social and cultural contributions, although most worthy of recognition in some other context, shall not be included in the honor awards.

LA Trust announces the 2011 Honor Awards Recipients

The 2011 Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation Conference was held on April 6-8, 2011. The conference, sponsored by the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission, was held in Leesville, Louisiana and was attended by more than 125 interested citizens and Main Street Managers. The Trust is very proud to announce the recipients of its 2011 Honor Awards given for excellence in all facets of historic preservation.

The Preservationist of the Year Award recognizes the efforts of an individual or organization whose skill and determination have given new meaning to their community through historic preservation. The year 2010 presented two highly qualified nominations, and oddly enough, they have worked together on several projects and each nominated the other.

Sandra Stokes of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana is a leading advocate for historic preservation in New Orleans. Her accomplishments include saving the 1939 art deco Rev. Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital, several dozen homes located on the site of the proposed University Medical Center in New Orleans, and the S.W. Green Mansion located in the footprint of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She remains a major advocate for the 1907 Dixie Brewery building and the 1879 McDonough No. 11 School. Her ongoing efforts to spare additional damage to the hundreds of historic buildings in the Mid-City National Register Historic District are without a doubt significant and major.

Brad Vogel is a young, energetic, innovative preservationist who inspires and energizes those around him. While attending Tulane Law School, Brad started doing advocacy work by creating a blog called “Inside the Footprint” to document and spotlight the 67-acre site located in a New Orleans National Register District which had been slated for demolition. He compiled booklets that documented the historic buildings slated for demolition and the advocacy efforts they triggered persuaded the city to move 71 historic residences rather than demolish them. He continues to be actively involved in all matters related to historic preservation – regularly speaking at meetings, press conferences, TV and radio interviews throughout the city.

The Legislative Award recognizes government support and involvement in preservation issues and projects. Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne has done more than anyone in the state government to preserve historic structures in his former capacity as Secretary of State. He is responsible for saving historic venues throughout the state by securing both public and private funding for many endangered or already damaged sites. Mr. Dardenne established the Heroes and Heritage Trail, connecting the seventeen museums under Secretary of State supervision, to tell the state’s story and developed educational programming promoting the historic significance of the State Archives. As Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Dardenne will turn his attention to another entire set of museums and historic sites.

The Education Award recognizes the efforts of individuals or organizations that have helped, through their educational efforts, to broaden people’s understanding of the importance and value of historic preservation in Louisiana.

From its development, the City of Opelousas has consistently invested in its heritage and culture. Calling it Le Vieux Village (the old village), the City of Opelousas began the development of its historic rural village in 1988. Over the years the complex has grown to include a rural doctor’s office, both a French Canadian and Creole home, a rural general store, an early African American Church, a rural schoolhouse, a railroad depot, and the Louisiana Orphan Train. In addition, the city supports all operational costs for the Opelousas Museum & Interpretive Center and funds utility expenses for the historic Michael Prudhomme home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The City of Opelousas is recognized for its ongoing efforts to promote and preserve local heritage attractions.

The Louisiana State Archives is being recognized this year for their involvement with the West Florida Republic Bicentennial and the two-month-long exhibit entitled “A Long, Long Time Ago,”held in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the death of “The Kingfish”, Huey P. Long. In 2010, Louisiana celebrated the short-lived and little-known existence of the Republic of West Florida. The State Archives sponsored an exhibit featuring the original 1810 constitution, along with historic items from each of the eight Louisiana parishes which were once part of the “Lone Star Republic”, and sponsored essay and art contests in schools throughout the parishes. “A Long, Long Time Ago” focused on the family and political life of Huey P. Long and his family. The dynasty founded by Long, included more than a dozen family members who were politicians, including the nation’s first , and only, husband-wife-son group. By taking an active leadership role in statewide events, the Louisiana State Archives, now under the office of Secretary of State Tom Schedler, led the way to educating the public.

Special Awards are given in recognition of other significant historic preservation projects, which may not fit into another category.

A Special Award is presented to Gus Kokinos of Ouachita Parish for his ongoing restoration of Bosco Plantation House. Over several years, Mr. Kokinos’ work on the house revealed a flush board facade, decorative panels, Greek Revival shoulder molding outlining the home’s double doors, and historic nineteenth century wallpaper. When Gus was ready to seek National Register status, he felt that hiring a consultant to write it for him was impractical since his home still needed work. Therefore, he decided to write the document himself. Preparing a nomination is a complicated technical task. The document must identify, date, and locate the candidate; convey its physical (architectural) features; discuss alterations; prove integrity; and make the case for historic importance. This Special Award honors his success at being the author of Louisiana’s first citizen prepared National Register nomination.

The Pointe Coupee Historical Society is presented a Special Award for the Poydras High School Restoration. The building was built in 1924, the last in a succession of schools in the parish named for local planter and philanthropist Julien Poydras, whose 1924 will established a fund for public education. Poydras first served as a high school and later as an elementary school until it closed in 1983. In the late 1980’s the building was in very bad shape and the city was considering demolishing it. Knowing the historical significance of Julien Poydras, who is buried under the monument in front of the building, several Pointe Coupee historical society members (Gail Roberts, Fred Hill, and Pat Laurent) fought hard to save the structure. In 1992, the society acquired the building and began raising funds to restore it as a community museum and arts center. The building is now central to the music and arts scene in New Roads and is in constant use for local meetings as well. Its adaptive reuse is a model for saving the many architecturally important buildings in Louisiana’s small towns.

A Special Award is presented to Fr. William Blanda for the extensive restoration and refurbishment of St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church. In 1843, Fr. Antoine Desire Megret, a native of France, purchased land near Verminlionville, present-day Lafayette, and built the first church at the site. Construction of the present, and fourth, building was completed in 1911 and has graced the skyline of historic downtown Abbeville since that time. Over the years, weather, ill-conceived renovations, and financial restraints took their toll on the stately structure and it was in a declining state. In 2002, Hurricane Lilly damaged the steeple and roof, and further compromised the already deteriorating structure. Begun in 2004 and completed in 2009, the extensive project completely restored Abbeville’s landmark St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church.

A Special Award is presented to Mr. Gary Blum, Mr. Joe Duck, and Mr. Keith Landen for their purchase and restoration of the 1913 U.S. Post Office in Franklin, Louisiana. Several years ago, Franklin residents were deeply concerned when their Post Office was relocated to a more modern building, abandoning the magnificent historical structure to the elements. Local businessmen and preservationists Gary Blum, Joe Duck, and Keith Landen saw the potential and made a very bold move. With no tenant lined up, they purchased the building and repaired considerable damage, and in the process uncovered long-leaf pine walls and floors and other treasures. They used the specialized features that remind of its former use as a post office to give depth and character to the space. Together, the three men have preserved a fine structure of historical significance for the town of Franklin.

Kay LaFrance-Knight is presented a Special Award for her work as the Main Street Manager in Winnsboro. Like many twentieth-century American towns and inner cities, downtown Winnsboro had declined until Kay LaFrance-Knight came back, full circle, to her grandparents’ farm in Gilbert. Some of Kay’s successes in Winnsboro include the renewed Princess Theater, a custom wedding cake bakery, cleaning up a former downtown historic hotel building, numerous new retailers, bringing the parish library downtown, a myriad of streetscape improvements and seasonal decorations, restored Old Post Office building, and sustainable events like the annual Catfish Festival. Usually, we speak of preservation in the context of one project or person, but community revitalization is historic preservation on a grand scale.