A historic home in downtown Opelousas has been taken over by the state Trust for Historic Preservation.
The home, which once belonged to a former state court judge and state representative, is known by locals as La Garconniere. For many years it was a boy’s home, but that’s been closed for some time. It’s been vacant since then.
Two years ago, La Garconniere was among a list of 10 properties that were to be listed as condemned. The Historic District Commission asked city government for more time, which they received. The Historic District Commission was able to connect with Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation (LTHP), a statewide non-profit which helps to preserve endangered buildings. Last month, the ownership of the home was transferred from St. Landry Juvenile Services, Inc. to Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation.
The house, believed to have been built around the 1890s, once belonged to Gilbert Louis Dupre, Sr. who maintained his legal office for many years in Opelousas and served as a state court judge and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Judge Dupré, as he was long known, was a member of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1921. He was also the great-grandson of Jacque Dupre, who was a pioneer of St. Landry Parish who served as Louisiana’s Governor from 1830 to 1831. He also served in the state Senate during the 1830s and 1840s.
The Louisiana Trust has a statewide revolving fund it can use to repair buildings the organization owns.
“We acquire an endangered property through purchase or donation, stabilize and market it and then sell the property with preservation easements to a buyer who will complete the renovations. This allows them to meet their needs, taste and budget.” says Brian Davis, LTHP Executive Director. Those proceeds are then put back into the fund, to save more endangered historic buildings.
Since the program started in late 2015, it has saved historic houses in Morehouse, Rapides and Ascension Parishes and two commercial buildings on the Claiborne Parish Courthouse Square in Homer.
“The Louisiana Trust would like to thank members of the Opelousas Historic District Commission and City Council for their work to save this important local landmark. Properties like La Garconniere are exactly why we started our statewide revolving fund,” says Davis. “Without some stabilization and work to find a new use, buildings like this won’t be around in five or ten years.”
The project will kick off with a volunteer work day on Saturday, October 20, at 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., to clear debris and trim overgrown vegetation. Anyone interested in helping with the transformation can stop by the 300 block of South Court Street. If you prefer working outdoors, please bring pruners, rakes, gloves, etc. For more information about the volunteer clean-up, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jonathan Sebastien 323-252-2447.