Announcing the 2023 Louisiana Preservation Awards

Baton Rouge, LA – Louisiana is filled with great places, great traditions, and great people who keep those cultural assets alive.

LTHP’s annual preservation awards program honors individuals, organizations and businesses for their impactful and passionate efforts to save historic places, build civic pride and foster engagement in their communities. This year’s 10 award recipients were nominated by the public earlier this spring and selected based on:

A formal awards ceremony took place on Saturday, October 7, in conjunction with the 2023 Fall Ramble in Natchitoches.

2023 Awards Recipients:

Main Street Award: Franklin Main Street  |  Franklin, LA

Mayor Eugene Foulcard, Franklin Main Street Director, Ed “Tiger” Verdin, and other city leadership have worked hard to enhance their Main Street District for residents and visitors alike — from transforming a vacant lot into a pocket park for festivals to beautifying the streetscape and hosting events to bring folks to the shopping district. As a result of their efforts, there is almost no vacancy in their commercial downtown.

Education Award: Pam Dupuy  |  Monroe, LA     

Pam Dupuy, fifth-generation steward of Layton Castle along the Ouachita River in Monroe, re-opened the property for tours in December 2022 after several years of being closed to the public. Pam is responsible for utilizing the family property as a venue for weddings and parties, and she leads the charge in keeping the landmark’s legacy alive with regular tours that educate the community on the history of Monroe. Ongoing projects include digitizing and transcribing a family archive of papers and rehabilitation to the residence.

Leadership Award: Denise Richard Lanclos  |  Lafayette, LA

As Director of Finance for the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette, Denise attended two historic tax credit workshops and gained knowledge to apply for the credit for the exterior preservation of the Cathedral in Lafayette. The exterior preservation project was completed, and the credit was sold to bring approximately $70,000 to the Cathedral. Denise currently serves in a volunteer role as President of the Preservation Alliance of Lafayette.

Organizational Excellence Award: Recovery School District & New Orleans Public Schools  |  New Orleans, LA

In response to the devastation from the hurricanes of 2005 and to address the long-term deferred maintenance of facilities, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and the Recovery School District (RSD) created the School Facilities Master Plan (SFMP). Its goal was to provide 21st-century seats for all children in the district who were in temporary facilities and modular campuses as a result of the destruction from Katrina and Rita. Their efforts resulted in the rehabilitation of 24 historic schools through a public-private partnership. The SFMP was started in 2008, with a revision in 2011. The last historic renovation, Martin Behrman (renamed Rose Mary Loving) School was completed in 2022.

Stewardship Award: NANO Architecture + Interiors (Frederick A. Douglass High School)  |  New Orleans, LA

Damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Frederick A. Douglass High School sat unused, vacant and in disarray for nearly 17 years. To help the school system return this invaluable resource to the community, NANO Architecture & Interiors devised a strategy to make the auditorium more accessible, more accommodating, and more historically accurate than it has been for decades. Today, the long-awaited restoration project is complete and exquisitely highlights the historic features throughout the interior. Further, the renovation of this auditorium now provides a space for children and adults to practice and present the performing arts.

Diverse Heritage Award: Becky Thomas-Meziere  |  Clifton, LA

Born in 1975 in Pineville, Louisiana, Becky Thomas-Meziere is a pine straw basket maker, and her beautiful hand-woven baskets can be seen all over the world in both private collections and museums. She is a graduate of Northwestern State University, and she and her family are members of the Clifton Choctaw Native American Community in Clifton, Louisiana. Becky learned her craft from her mother when she was about eleven years old. With her tools consisting of needle, raffia, and longleaf pine straw, she uses a coil technique where the pine needles are coiled around and sewn together. Each basket is unique and has little designs resembling flowers sewn onto the finished basket. She uses natural dyes and some supplementary materials, such as commercially dyed raffia, to give color to the pine needle baskets.

Living Trades Award: Arcadio Bautista  |  Irving, TX

Recognizes an individual who has continued to use a traditional technique or method in construction to achieve authenticity in the preservation, restoration or reconstruction of historic resources on a project within Louisiana; the technique must be one that is considered both artistic in nature and rare in today’s construction practices.

Arcadio Bautista was a subcontractor for the Texas Co. Precision Construction & Roofing, contracted to repair the historic 1910 Ludowici roof of Layton Castle in Monroe, Louisiana. Arcadio was the site supervisor for the team that removed the old tiles, repaired and replaced sheeting, and installed the new roof and flashing. Mr. Bautista’s process and care were impressive in solving unusual situations such as the installation of the handmade glass tiles in the five skylights or the custom tiles created for the conical roof of the south turret. Layton Castle now enjoys a majestic and functional new roof that maintains its historic character.

Heritage Media Award: Amber Mitchell & Dr. Joy Banner (“Tilling the Soil” podcast)  |  Edgard, LA

“Tilling the Soil” is a podcast launched by Amber Mitchell and Dr. Joy Banner in August 2022 to discuss Whitney Plantation and the unique intersection of history, preservation, race and storytelling. Each episode featured interviews with museum professionals, historians, preservationists, living history interpreters, and a host of other professionals in the history field about a variety of topics centered around the struggles and importance of interpreting the history of the enslaved.

Sue Turner Preservationist of the Year Award: Rep. Tanner Magee  |  Houma, LA

Rep. Tanner Magee introduced and secured the passage of HB 483, which extends and expands Louisiana’s Commercial Rehabilitation Tax Credit (also known as the State Historic Tax Credit). The bill passed both chambers of the state legislature. In addition to extending the credit through 2028, HB 483 expands the eligibility of the credits to properties on the National Register of Historic Places and increases the incentive, especially for rural projects.

Winnie Byrd Preservationist Extraordinaire Award: Professor Emeritus F. Lestar Martin  |  Gibsland, LA

Professor Emeritus F. Lestar Martin is a respected former member of the Louisiana Tech University faculty. During his tenure as a professor in the School of Architecture, which began in the 1970s, he developed a popular documentation course on historic Louisiana buildings, exploring the process of architectural documentation. The work with his students resulted in several publications about the vernacular architecture of northern Louisiana as well as measured drawings of numerous historic Louisiana landmarks, now housed in the Library of Congress.