This story appeared in the April issue of the PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door monthly? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!

Do you have an idea for a preservation project and don’t know where to turn for assistance? Consider applying for a grant through the Division of Historic Preservation. Each year, the State Historic Preservation Office, located in the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism’s Office of Cultural Development under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, distributes an allocation of federal funds for projects through a competitive grants process. These funds come from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior’s Historic Preservation Fund, and may be awarded to non-profits, universities, local municipalities and government organizations.

The programs at the LA SHPO are guided by our state plan, titled First You Make a Roux: Ingredients for Preservation Partnerships in Louisiana 2017-2025. Our office annually sets priorities for grant projects, of which historic standing structure surveys remain at the top. Projects in the following categories are among the list of eligible projects:

  • survey and inventory
  • cultural resource documentation
  • preservation planning, educational and public outreach activities
  • nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.

Over the years, our grant program has provided opportunities for schools of architecture in our state to introduce students to the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) documentation process. The HABS drawings produced by many of these students are entered into the Charles E. Peterson Prize, which honors Charles E. Peterson, founder of the HABS program, and increases awareness, knowledge and appreciation of historic buildings, structures and cultural landscapes throughout the United States, while adding to the permanent HABS collection of measured drawings at the Library of Congress.

Previously funded grant projects include: the development of preservation plans; surveys of historic districts; the preparation of National Register nominations; Historic American Building Survey documentation; and educational activities to promote historic preservation. In addition, certified local governments can apply directly to fund a variety of projects, including the development of design guidelines for historic districts; Municipal Historic Resource Inventory Surveys; feasibility studies on a single historic building or groups of historic buildings; conditions assessments and historic structures reports; public information projects relative to historic preservation; education projects relative to historic preservation; and historic preservation training programs for officials and local citizens.

LEFT: A University of Louisiana at Lafayette student completes Historic American Building Survey documentation of the Gordon Hotel in Lafayette.  RIGHT: A plaque highlighting the history of King’s Corner in Opelousas was installed as part of Opelousas’ “Remembering the Corner” Project.


In 2018-2019 Preservation grants funded a wide variety of projects with statewide impacts. Some of the projects were:

  • The Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation, our statewide preservation organization, received funding for its annual Statewide Preservation conference held in Baton Rouge in April 2019. Additionally, funding was used to support two rambles, which draw visitors to historic communities to explore their architectural charm and learn about their history. This past year, rambles were held in Jackson, a small town in East Feliciana Parish, and St. Joseph, a village in Tensas Parish. The rambles attracted hundreds of visitors to these communities.
  • The Louisiana Architectural Foundation received grant funding to assist with the production of a full-length documentary, Unexpected Modernism: The Wiener Brothers’ Story, about the work of renowned architects Sam and William Wiener. This documentary was scheduled to premiere at the Strand Theater in Shreveport in early April. Check for the date.
  • The Schools of Architecture at both the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Louisiana Tech received grant funding to train students in the process of completing a Historic American Building Survey documentation of a property. UL Lafayette students documented the Gordon Hotel in downtown Lafayette, while Louisiana Tech students completed HABS drawings of the William Wiener House in Shreveport. This invaluable experience for students allows them to submit their work into the Peterson Prize competition.
  • Preservation grants also funded multiple National Register District survey and nominations, including Pontchartrain Park in New Orleans, McDonoghville in Gretna, and an expansion to the Southern University National Register Historic District. Additional survey projects included documentation of more than 1,000 buildings in the Scotlandville neighborhood of North Baton Rouge, and approximately 150 buildings in Tensas Parish.
  • Funding also was awarded to a number of certified local governments to advance local projects, including walking tours, the development of educational materials and local historic district surveys. Algiers, New Iberia, Opelousas and Donaldsonville secured grant funding to develop walking tours that helped showcase their historic downtowns. The city of Lake Charles used grant funds to develop educational materials for its local historic district commission. These important projects are only made possible by building partnerships between local historic district commissions, our office and the National Park Service through the use of Historic Preservation Fund grants.

Students at Louisiana Tech University documented the William Wiener House, top left, in Shreveport for the Historic American Building Survey. These sketches were completed by the students in pursuit of the Charles E. Peterson Prize from the National Park Service’s Heritage Documentation Program.


Grant awards are generally between $3,000 and $75,000. The next application period will begin in May for the upcoming grant period of July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. As always, funding is contingent upon LA SHPO’s annual appropriation from the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund and state general funds. These grant funds must be matched by non-federal monies on at least a 50/50 basis, and are distributed on a reimbursable basis only.

To apply for Historic Preservation Fund grants this year, visit our website at and click on grants to review the application process, or call 225-342-8200 to speak with our staff regarding preservation grants.

Andrea McCarthy is the Survey and Planning Program Coordinator with the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development, Division of Historic Preservation