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Spirit of Acadiana: Opelousas residents want to 'Save Our Silos'

Preserving History in St. Landry Parish
Posted at 7:04 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 21:31:16-04

OPELOUSAS, La. — 26 governors. 19 presidents. Over 35 named storms. So far, these structures have withstood the test of time.

Located just outside of Opelousas, these structures located along Highway 190 East toward Port Barre and Baton Rouge, are in need of a little rehab and support. To the rescue comes a preservation effort called ‘Save Our Silos’.

"Everybody looks at these silos as a beacon to give them a sign when they travel that they're home. It's been that way since 190 was built, I'd imagine,” explains Save Our Silos co-founder Buddy Helton.

Silos’ partner Cynthia Lormand agrees, remembering what the silos meant to her as a child when she accompanied her father on business trips to Baton Rouge. "This is how we went, and we knew we were leaving Opelousas, we saw the silos. And we'd get back, 10 or 11 o'clock at night, and—'we're almost home! Saw the silos!’”

35- feet tall, 16-feet across. They were built in 105 years ago--- 1916 --by David Briggs on the Belmont Plantation property owned by the Boagni family. For a number of years, these silos were filled with green corn, from top to bottom. “Just to marvel at how well they've stood the test of time,” says Helton. The way they built these things with absolutely no mechanization. They've stood the test of time with wind, rain, hurricanes and such.”

But as the sands of time fell, the silos were used less and less, and soon became silent. But their place in all that Opelousas was got longtime residents Buddy Helton and Cynthia Lormand fired up. They and others decided these pieces of Opelousas history weren't going away without a fight.

“’Whatcha doin' now?’,” Lormand recalls a friend asking. “’Well, I’m helping Buddy we're trying to save the silos, we're going to put new roofs on the silos'. And Scott, their faces light up and their eyes get big and they say, 'I remember the silos!!'"

Architects and contractors believe it will take about $50,000 and three months to put new roofs on the two silos. Organizers hope that perhaps, one day, the area could become a historical complex of sorts. "As time goes by, we see more and more communities lose their identity in general,” adds Helton, “and this is just a piece of our community identity that we can keep and hold a little bit of that integrity and memory together.”

“Because it’s part of Opelousas and St. Landry Parish history,” agrees Lormand. “And why not? Why wouldn’t you want to help? It’s about your hometown.”

To learn more about 'Save Our Silos' and how to contribute to the preservation project, visit www.SaveOurSilos.com.

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