Name: LaFonda Stelly

Current Occupations: Sr. Database Administrator for JRTC in Fort Polk, LA … House Flipper … Real Estate Property Stagger … Vintage Shop Owner … (if it’s a good idea, I’ll try it)

Hometown: Ville Platte, LA

Current Town: Leesville, LA

When/how did you realize you were a preservationist?  I’ve been blessed to live in large cities and small towns during my life. My vacation choice is always the same. Travel by vehicle, tour beautiful homes, stay in Bed & Breakfasts, and shop charming Downtown Main Streets. Moving to Leesville fueled my dream to preserve when I saw a wonderful old house I remembered from my teenage years. It was for sell and I had to have it!!! A Preservationist was born when I bought that house! I have since purchased, restored, and sold many more structures needing a little care, hard work, paint, landscape, and lots of money to attract the next homeowner to fall in love.

What is your favorite building/place in Louisiana?  My favorite historic building in Louisiana is the Benson-Lyons House in Leesville. Built in 1890, it has become the home I depend on to keep the kids and I safe and happy as we adventure through life.

Wisdom and understanding has taught me that a house is just a house. Things break, wood rots, and termites will arrive when you least expect them!! It can be repaired, replaced, and it will always take more time than planned and twice the budget. My home is no exception. But, it’s the one place on earth I rush to after a long day of work, a week of travel, a weekend visiting family, and two or more hours in Walmart.

I particularly cherish the miracle of winter when there is a blanket of snow covering my home. Yes, the snow does offer a picture perfect postcard and a glance at the initial dream of renovations planned so many years ago. But, as the snow melts, it slowly reveals the slightly tilted chimney cap my son and I repaired using a 60 ft man-lift, then there are the broken roof tiles struck by lightning, the hole I promise never to repair that houses our bird’s nest, the porch posts that travelled from New Orleans to help keep the wrap-around standing, the chipping paint that may have to wait another year, and the 125 year old glass windows my daughter painted that I never got around to scraping.

Those countless hours with family and friends helping to renovate have certainly been rewarding and forever priceless. I am so thankful for the joyful memories in our perfectly imperfect home.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?  There’s no such thing as spare time. I adjust my tasks every hour of every day as it happens!!! I spend the least amount of time doing what I must, so I can get to the part of doing only what I love. Four hours of sleep is good enough.=

What have you learned from your experience on the LTHP?  I had learned there are a lot of amazing Board Members that enjoy the same interests as myself. And there are a lot more places to visit in Louisiana with these amazing Board Members at our Spring and Fall Rambles.

Why should others get involved with LTHP and the preservation movement in Louisiana?  Shared awareness of all the great projects LTHP continues to accomplish must somehow filter throughout Louisiana.

An interested individual committing at a comfortable level of involvement with LTHP and lending their assistance to the preservation of beautiful old buildings, homes, and historic sites is very rewarding. All structures are built for its unique purpose and stands strong through decades waiting to tell a story, hoping to reveal secrets, and always offering memories for families to treasure.

Public and private donations, memberships, and grant funding does assist LTHP with expenses and maintenance on properties that would otherwise face abandonment or lost. If 1,000,000 individuals donated $1 that would be great!! If one individual donates $1,000,000 that would be equally great!!

LTHP’s focus is to accomplish goals set by the Board. If you are interested in donating, signing up for membership, preservation, organizing events in your city, or just finding out more information, don’t hesitate to contact our Executive Director today.