Small grants from Louisiana Main Street make a huge impact

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

Louisiana is rich in architectural heritage, and there are so many buildings in the state that need to be preserved; however, few resources are available for preservation work. Louisiana Main Street is the only program within the Division of Historic Preservation that offers a restoration grant.

Over the past 20 years, the grant’s name has changed a few times, but the objective — to promote preservation and boost local economies — has remained. The Louisiana Main Street Restoration Grant, as it is now known, proves to be one of the most vital tools in the partnership between historic preservation and economic development.

Each year, Louisiana Main Street offers the grant to business owners in our 34 local Main Street districts. This is a dollar-for-dollar matching grant in amounts of either $2,500 or $10,000.

Louisiana Main Street Restoration Grants encourage the revitalization of historic downtown commercial properties. Recipients of the grant must follow the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for the treatment of historic properties, which basically says replace with “in-kind” or similar materials if an element can’t be saved.

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Since the inception of the Louisiana Main Street Restoration Grant, hundreds of buildings have been saved and millions of dollars have been put back into local economies. The grant has proven to be the catalyst to countless restoration projects, sparking other business owners to improve their commercial buildings.

Last year, the state awarded seven Louisiana Main Street Restoration Grants. The money helped to stabilize an 1890 Creole cottage that is being converted to a retail shop and to restore the façade of a turn-of-the-century commercial building in Crowley, as well as the façades of two of the oldest wood commercial buildings in Donaldsonville. Work also began on a wonderful post modern-style building in New Iberia. The grant allows for restoration work to be done on interiors as well. This year, Minden and Donaldsonville saw interior restorations in two of their Romanesque Revival buildings.

It is always a pleasure to see restoration work done in our districts. We are grateful for the funds approved by the Lt. Governor’s office that make these projects possible. The Louisiana Main Street Restoration Grant is a valuable tool in the promotion of historic preservation, and the return on investment is tremendous. For more information, visit the Louisiana Main Street website.

Paint is removed from the façade of a turn-of-the-century commercial building in Crowley. Restoration work included repairs to the original double-hung windows and transoms of the building. The restored façade enhances the entire streetscape.

 

Hammond among top 10 Great American Main Street Award contenders

by Ray Scriber, Main Street program director

The Hammond Downtown Development District has been named a 2019 Great American Main Street Award semifinalist by the National Main Street Center. Winners will be announced on March 25 at the opening plenary of the Main Street Now Conference in Seattle.

The 2019 Great American Main Street Award recognizes exceptional Main Street America programs whose successes serve as a model for comprehensive, historic preservation-based commercial district revitalization. This year’s 10 semifinalists were selected from a nationwide pool of accredited applicants by a national jury based on the programs’ successful and innovative uses of the Main Street Approach. Criteria includes: strength of the Main Street America program in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; commitment to historic preservation; implementation of model partnerships; and demonstrated success of the Main Street Approach. More than 90 communities have been recognized as winners since the award’s inception in 1995.

The National Main Street Center has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts since 1980. The network consists of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, collectively known as Main Street America, which share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Main Street America is a program of the non-profit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Learn more at mainstreet.org.

Thanks to a Louisiana Main Street Restoration Grant, a Creole cottage in New Roads—once suffering from extensive wood rot—is being repaired. The new spindles perfectly match the old, salvageable spindles.

 

Louisiana Main Street to accept applications

For the first time since 2014, Louisiana Main Street will soon accept applications from communities that would like to become a part of the Louisiana Main Street network. Communities of 50,000 or less in population can apply based on an interest in revitalizing their historic downtowns, while communities of more than 50,000 in population can apply based on an interest in revitalizing historic neighborhood commercial districts.

To be designated as a local Louisiana Main Street program, a community must demonstrate a strong grassroots interest in downtown or historic commercial district revitalization. Designated programs will be required to establish a board of directors and to hire a paid, professional Main Street program director. Main Street programs can be housed within municipal government, within an already established non-profit organization (such as a local Chamber of Commerce or other community revitalization or economic development organization) or they can be set up as a standalone non-profit organization.

To learn more about the benefits that Main Street can bring to your community or if your community is interested in applying, contact Ray Scriber, Director of Louisiana Main Street, at 225.342.8162 or rscriber@crt.la.gov. For more information on the Louisiana Main Street program, visit the Louisiana Main Street website.

 

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