This story appeared in the February issue of PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door nine times a year? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
by Ray Scriber, Louisiana Main Street Director
Louisiana Main Street was recently awarded $662,000 in grant funding from the National Park Service (NPS) through the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Subgrant Program (HRSP). Through the HRSP, a total of $4.8 million was awarded to nine projects around the country. In Louisiana, the grant will fund two rounds of subgrants for the rehabilitation and revitalization of historic commercial buildings located in official Main Street districts across the state.
“Being selected for this National Park Service grant means we will be able to increase our assistance in the preserving and restoring of historical aspects of our small towns and historic districts to bring them back to life, attracting locals and visitors alike,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “The historic downtowns and commercial districts are the heart of many communities across Louisiana. They give each community a sense of place and character, providing the uniqueness that sets them apart from each other.”
The priority of this grant program as set by Louisiana Main Street is to return currently vacant or under-utilized historic buildings into productive use. Our 35 Main Street Districts comprise a powerful grassroots network that understands the power of community pride and the value of historic commercial resources as economic drivers. As the program director, I’m excited to have secured this grant funding through the NPS, and I’m excited to see the positive impact these projects will have in their respective districts.
Property owners can receive grants of $55,000 and are only required to provide a $5,000 cash match. Buildings must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places or determined eligible for listing in the Register by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the NPS. The first of two grant cycles was completed in 2020, with the awarding of six grants. Six more grants will be awarded in 2021. Applications will be available in late January through the director of each local Main Street District.
The projects that were funded in 2020 illustrate the wide variety of planned outcomes in several different Main Street communities.
In Plaquemine, the historic Lozano House is being restored for several types of uses. The ground floor will be used as retail space. The second floor will accommodate overnight lodging and professional office space. The third-floor ballroom will be available for rental for small events or meetings.
The Donaldsonville Area Foundation received a grant for ongoing preservation of the Donaldsonville General Store & Museum at the Chef John Folse Building. The building will be used as an interpretive center, museum, check-in location for tours and tour guides, event space and a creative space for local artists, authors and storytellers.
In New Iberia, the Iberia Performing Arts League (IPAL) will use grant funds for the fabrication and installation of a reconstructed marquee to match the original 1937 art deco marquee to the Essanee Theater. Originally a downtown movie theater, the building is now used as IPAL’s home to stage multiple live stage productions and events each year.
The former Egan Hotel in Crowley will have 66 double-hung windows restored where possible and replaced where excessive deterioration prevents restoration. This project is one of the many to be undertaken by Lazar John Properties, LLC, with the goal of a boutique hotel in downtown Crowley.
Main Street Homer will apply grant funds to the revitalization of a commercial building at 419 West Main St. The building is adjacent to an outdoor event space operated by the local Main Street organization. Restoration work will allow its use as a reception hall for the park, providing for full use of the park site.
The City of Franklin owns the beautiful old post office building and will use grant funds to revitalize the building for use as office space and for the promotion of arts and tourism in the city.
All of these projects are excellent examples of the efforts that will achieve this program’s priority while also contributing to the vibrancy of their downtown Main Street Districts. For information on the 2021 grant cycle, please contact Ray Scriber at email@example.com or a local Main Street director.