UL Lafayette says that renovations to the J. Arthur Roy House – the oldest building on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus – will begin next year.
The building will serve as the new home of the university's Center for Louisiana Studies.
The university says that renovations can begin now that the center’s Restore the Roy initiative has reached its fundraising goal.
“Despite the turmoil of 2020, we've received an outpouring of support this year, both from people who love the Roy House and value its architectural and historical significance, as well as from people who support the mission of the Center for Louisiana Studies," said Dr. Joshua Caffery, the center’s director.
According to the university, a major gift received in November took the campaign over the finish line. The Restore the Roy initiative launched in 2018, but fundraising for the historic structure’s restoration and plans for its transformation into the center’s new home began about eight years ago, they say.
The project has also received a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities earlier this year. Caffery said the promise of matching funds from the federal agency “helped galvanize support and momentum that built through the spring and summer.”
The project received assistance from donors in the region and around the state and country.
"An amazing group of philanthropic people from different walks of life who saw the possibilities of bringing this lovely building back to life as a fitting home for the study and preservation of Louisiana culture and history," Caffery said.
In all, the university says that the project raised about $1 million for the restoration’s initial stages. Fundraising, according to Caffery, will continue to ensure the project’s completion and for future maintenance of the house and grounds.
"[the fundraiser's] amazing success couldn’t have happened without these generous donors, and without the vision, passion and dedication of Dr. Caffery, as well as the center’s previous director, Dr. Michael Martin, and the staff of the University’s Office of Development," said Dr. Jordan Kellman dean of the UL Lafayette’s College of Liberal Arts
The Roy House, situated at the corner of Johnston Street and University Avenue, was completed in 1901. It is the only University structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 120-year-old home – built by businessman J. Arthur Roy the same year Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, now UL Lafayette, welcomed its first students – has never had a major renovation, Caffery noted. But that’s about to change.
The building needs new plumbing and electrical systems; central air conditioning and heat; modern insulation in the walls, ceilings and floors; and new interior and exterior paint.
Restoring the elaborate ornamental wood and tilework that adorns the home’s interior will receive special attention, Caffery said.
“The Roy House’s true treasures are its interior touches, the quality of the mantlepieces, the staircase, and the woodwork and tilework in general. At some point, that woodwork was painted over, but we'll be bringing it back to its original, natural finish.”
In addition, the university says the grounds of the home will be relandscaped with native plants and flowers.
Restoration plans for the Roy House include a reading and listening room where scholars and patrons can access the center’s audiovisual archives, and a bookstore where UL Press and other Louisiana-focused titles will be sold.
“I anticipate that the Roy House will become an inspiring setting for creativity and scholarship anchored in the richness and depth of regional and statewide culture,” Caffery said. “It will be a hub for our culture in the middle of the Hub City, and a fitting home for the Center for Louisiana Studies.”
Find more about the Center for Louisiana Studies, the Roy House and the Restore the Roy initiative by visiting restoretheroy.org.
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