Name: Cassie Condrey
Current Occupation: Writer, Photographer, Proprietor at Bernard House
Hometown & Current Town: Lake Providence, LA
When/How did you realize you were a preservationist?
I see now that I was very young, just a girl. Going through abandoned farm houses and studying wallpapers and floor plans and artifacts left behind. I have mourned the loss of so many good and strong old homes in my rural hometown and beyond, on all the country roads that take us to more urban areas. In all the places I’ve lived too— Durham and Boston and Argentina and Singapore and New Orleans— I’ve sought out the neighborhoods with history and therefore with story and have noted with fascination what the materials were and the layouts and how the people used the old spaces. In the last ten years my ideas about preserving old spaces and what that does for our sense of community, our shared history, and our commitment to a sustainable future have really coalesced into a solid conviction in the value of preservation. It was there all along, of course, but I didn’t yet have the vocabulary for it.
What’s your favorite building/place in Louisiana?
I love the old courthouse here in Lake Providence, built in 1901, and Arlington House, built in the 1820s. Our main street, Lake Street, has a few of my favorites also. These spaces have remained with me since childhood and were no small part of why I came back.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Ride horses, garden, read widely, boat rides on Lake Providence, levee runs with my dog, travel with and to see old friends, anything and everything with my husband and daughter.
Why did you choose to get involved with the Louisiana Trust?
Like most things, it was personal connections. People I admire and who I know are devoted to preserving the beautiful old spaces in our state were already on the Board. That immediately made it an organization I wanted to be part of. Also, there was not a huge northeast Louisiana presence on the Board and it was important to me that our little area of the state be represented and championed.
What have you learned from your experience on the LTHP?
So much about how multi-faceted approaches to preservation must be in order to be successful. From fundraising to finding the right craftspeople for the job to enlisting the help and support of the locals, it is always about more than just how beautiful the space is/could be and how worthwhile it is to save it. Finding the right connections and formulating the right plan is essential. I’ve also learned so much from the Rambles and from the other board members about parts of the state I wouldn’t have otherwise been familiar with, possibly ever. We are a culturally and historically rich and diverse place and it’s been fascinating and enlightening to see the ways in which our historical spaces represent that.
Why should others get involved with LTHP and the preservation movement in Louisiana?
I believe that preserving spaces preserves the stories held within them and few pursuits are more worthwhile than learning what and from what has happened before us. I also believe in the value of community, in knowing your neighbor, in helping your neighbor, and in creating environments in which relationships among neighbors can be fostered, nurtured, expanded. An understanding of a shared and common history is part of that. The problems that we face in preservation in a modern world (preservation of buildings and spaces and attitudes and history and community), are present and real everywhere you go— everywhere— and I believe that the best place to begin addressing those problems is right where you are now. It’s also a great deal of fun.