The following properties were presented at the January 2015 Annual Meeting as those on CHPS Endangered List. The Endangered List includes ten of the most significant properties in the most dire straits. By no means is this a complete listing of every property that can or should be reclaimed and reused in Central Lake Charles.
|925 Mill||759 Louisiana||609 Bilbo|
|Goldband Records, Church Street at Ryan||Kirby and Common||709 Kirby|
|Harrison and Grove||YMCA on Kirby||Caretakers Cottage at Lock Park, 6th Street|
|Guth Dairy Plant|
1. The Stanford House at 925 Mill Street is currently in an advanced state of decay. This house was once a showcase house built in 1890 by a prominent African-American building contractor and brickyard owner G. B. Stanford. The house has an individual listing in the book “Early Homes of Lake Charles” by the late Lloyd Barras. She relates that the famed African American educator Booker T. Washington was a houseguest of the Stanfords and stayed in this house. Ms. Barras’s book shows the impressive house and the aftermath of a fire that destroyed the second floor. (Pages 114/115)
2. The House at 759 Louisiana Street. This is a great example of the Lake Charles style of residential construction. Potential owners tried to relocate this house in an effort to save the structure on a new site. The effort failed. However it remains one of the great and distinctive houses of the entire region. Hopefully, the house can be rescued and adaptively reused on its own site in the Charpentier District and adjacent to the newly established Nellie Lutcher Cultural District.
3. The House at 609 Bilbo Street. A grand house with good bones, this structure has potential to be a showcase structure for downtown. It should be stabilized, renovated and could be adaptively reused or any number of new purposes. With the renewed focus on the north end of downtown, with construction and investment all around, this property has a huge amount of potential and promise.
4. Goldband Records, Church Street at Ryan. The reconfigured and realigned Ryan St Exit and the improvements to the service roads in the vicinity of this structure should now encourage some sort of adaptive reuse and should make rehabilitation a possibility. This building served as the basis of the late Eddie Shuler enterprises including the record company, musical publishing house, and recording studios. It could be stabilized and perhaps reused as a club or live music venue, perhaps a swamp pop/zydeco’s version of New Orleans’ Snug Harbor or Frenchman Street.
5. The “Augustine” foursquare at Kirby and Common. Long vacant, the new current owner was provided a window of opportunity to explore reuse possibilities and to selectively demolish damaged and deteriorated add-on features. The window is rapidly closing and the structure is still open to weather, to encroaching vegetation and to further deterioration. It continues to be an eyesore and a nuisance, when it could be a prime office space, a boutique inn, a restaurant or a residence.
6. The house at 709 Kirby Street, about a block from number 5 above. Once a successful local antique store, this structure has a deteriorating front porch and is an eyesore in an immediate neighborhood of well-cared for structures. It needs an assessment of structural soundness and a purpose, whether residential, retail or office space.
7. The Hollywood Moorish styled house at Grove and Harrison is caught in ownership turmoil. This structure has character, style and presence. If restored, it would be a prized residence in Lake Charles’s jewel-box Margaret Place district.
8. The YMCA building. Kirby Street at Kirby Lane. This is a sizable mid-century building with a fair sized chunk of real estate. The facility has not had a clear future nor a clear purpose for over 10 years. It is long overdue for some sort of valid adaptive reuse plan, perhaps a hospital-sponsored health and fitness center, or perhaps as an adjunct facility for a spa-focused hotel or inn, or even a retail center of boutiques. This has been vacant for too long.
9. The Caretaker Cottage at Lock Park, Sixth Street at Bilbo. This cottage was part of the overall donation of the Park from the Lock family heirs, along with the Pavilion and the playgrounds. Recently, the resident of the cottage was asked to vacate, however future plans for the structure have not been shared with the community. The building has been a part of the park for a hundred years and should have a future.
10. The Guth Dairy physical plant, Hodges Street. The dairy processing facility and its administrative offices have been vacant for some time. The administrative offices were used for a time for legal offices. The specialized plant once processed milk and dairy products locally and was one of at least three such facilities in the area. The site is located near Pithon Coulee and the area has flooded in storm surge. A full assessment is needed: can it be reused to process agricultural products, or seafood, or perhaps serve as a micro-brewery or distillery, ideas that seem to have local appeal? Or does it better serve some other need? Note:
11. The 11th endangered site, the Cocchiara Medical Office on Ryan Street, vacant for some time, was demolished for new construction as this listing was being researched. For owners and developers, CHPS reminds you that many structures located in historic districts or cultural districts are eligible for tax-credits when rehabilitated and reused for income producing purposes. The tax credits are based on the cost of appropriate renovations to bring the structure back to commerce. Before beginning any potential tax credit renovation, contact the State Office of Historic Preservation for specific details and timetables. At least eight of the ten structures listed above are potentially eligible for renovation using tax-credit incentives.