Foundation for Historical La. to present awards

The Foundation for Historical Louisiana will present its Preservation Awards at its annual banquet on Thursday, July 17.

Named as 2014 Preservation Award winners are:

Carl Brasseaux, of Lafayette, for his work as a cultural preservationist;

Vincent Caire Sr., of LaPlace, as an author, historian and advocate for the restoration of the Art Deco Shushan Airport, now Lakefront Airport in New Orleans;

The Historic New Orleans Collection, Priscilla Lawrence, executive director, for its organizational preeminence over many years;

Nancy Vinci, of St. Francisville, a preservation champion for the architectural treasures of “Audubon Country” and the historic district of St. Francisville, especially the restoration of the Freyhan Foundation historic buildings;

The late Sue Eakin, posthumous award for lifetime achievement as a scholar, educator, preservationist and storyteller responsible for getting “Twelve Years a Slave” republished;

Owners Lee and Susan Schaffer, the Phoenix Award, for the architectural preservation of Ardoyne Plantation in Shriever;

Owners Joseph and Lisa Condrey Ward and Ricky and Gale Condrey, The Bricks and Mortar Award, for architectural preservation of The Southern Hotel in Covington;

Sue Ellen Graham, of Baton Rouge, as FHL Volunteer of the Year.

“These awards are presented to dedicated individuals and organizations whose life ethic, volunteer and professional work has aided in making the past known and useful to the present,” said Doug Cochran, chairman of the FHL Board of Directors, which hosts the event.

Since 1976, FHL has recognized individuals, philanthropists, developers, nonprofits and entities from across the state who exemplify its mission of preserving the cultural and architectural heritage of Louisiana.The prestigious awards have also honored authors, publishers, scholars, architects, artists, local governments, organizations and historians. As part of the evening’s ceremonies, Preservation Award recipients from past years will be acknowledged.

The information on the winners listed below was provided by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.

Carl Brasseaux

Brasseaux is an award-winning historian of Louisiana culture and history. He has served as director of the Center for Louisiana Studies, as well as of the Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism, both located at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He was also a member of ULL’s history department and has served as curator of the Colonial Records Collections. At the Center for Louisiana Studies, Brasseaux was involved with Louisiana Digital Folklore Archive. This massive collection includes the Center for Acadian and Creole Folklore, which is regarded as the largest compilation of media resources pertaining to these two south Louisiana ethnic groups. With more than 30 publications on Louisiana history, predominately on Acadian and Creole heritage, Brasseaux is also recognized as editor of the two-volume “A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography,” a tool for researchers in multiple fields of study. He was also managing editor of Louisiana History and Louisiana Historical Quarterly.

Vincent Caire Sr.

An author, pilot and advocate for aviation history, Caire was a leader in the restoration and reopening of the Art Deco Shushan Airport terminal building at New Orleans Lakefront Airport. He provided his extensive historical research and personal knowledge of both Louisiana and U.S. aviation history for the accurate preservation of this Louisiana treasure. Caire initiated and arranged the return of one of the original eight 1933 Xavier Gonzalez works, the “Rio” mural, to its original position in the restored terminal building lobby following years of storage and care by the Louisiana State Museum.

He also arranged the return to the terminal lobby the airport’s original “Shushan Dedication Plaque,” which was in the care of the Louisiana and Special Collections, University of New Orleans, Earl K. Long Library. The terminal was one of the first Art Deco aviation facilities in the U.S. and was designed by Weiss, Dreyfous & Seiferth, Gov. Huey P. Long’s architects of choice in the 1930s.

The Historic New Orleans Collection: Organizational Preeminence

Established in 1966, the Historic New Orleans Collection is a publication center, research center and museum. Founded by collectors Gen. L. Kemper Williams and Leila Hardie Moore Williams, the holdings are housed in various 18th and 19th century buildings on Royal and Chartres streets in the French Quarter. The collection consists of a vast array of artifacts, photography and art related to the culture and history of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Within the Historic New Orleans Collection are four exhibit spaces as well as the Williams Research Center. The center is home to thousands of books, photographs and archival documents, which the public can access for research purposes. The museum exhibitions include the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery and the Laura Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art. Patrons can also tour the properties of the HNOC and the Williams Residence, former home of the collection’s founders. The “Architectural Tours” also offer guided talks on the history of various architectural styles and courtyards represented in the collection’s complex of properties.

Nancy Vinci

As a resident of historic St. Francisville, much of Vinci’s life has been steeped in historic preservation activities. In her latest leadership efforts, Vinci has focused on restoring the original assets of the Freyhan Foundation. For more than 10 years, she has led the foundation through a three-stage project, including restoration of the much-treasured Julius Freyhan School, the adjoining original amphitheater and the Temple Sinai. The school was opened in 1905 from funds left by Julius Freyhan, a wealthy Jewish merchant and philanthropist. Freyhan also dedicated funds for the Temple Sinai and an outdoor amphitheatre. As president of the foundation, Vinci recently completed stage one, restoration of the temple, which now serves as a community event facility.

Sue Eakin

Eakin, born in Bunkie and raised near Cheneyville, is recognized posthumously for her lifetime achievement in historical research. As a teenager, Eakin stumbled upon a copy of “Twelve Years a Slave,” the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup. Throughout her college years and into her adult life, she remained devoted to researching the book and her efforts to have it republished, unearthing a vital piece of Louisiana history largely unknown to the public. Eakin earned two master’s degrees — one in history and one in journalism — from LSU. She wrote her master’s thesis on Northup’s memoirs, and, after years of research, published an authenticated version of the book in 1968. Eakin taught history at LSU-Alexandria, and then pursued her postgraduate studies at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, graduating with a doctorate in history at the age of 60. She continued to teach until her retirement in 1987. In addition to having the book republished, she compiled information for the Solomon Northup Trail, a compendium of places associated with the people and events in “Twelve Years a Slave.” Published in 1985, the guide details sites mentioned in Northup’s writings.

Ardoyne Plantation: Bricks and Mortar Award

Ardoyne, located in Schriever, is one of the state’s largest and most elaborate examples of rural Victorian Gothic architecture. The home was completed in 1894 on property purchased by Sen. John Dalton Shaffer. The plantation has remained in the Shaffer family through the generations, and members of the family still live there and farm sugar cane on the surrounding lands. The current residents, Susan and Lee Shaffer III, came to live in the family home in 2008, at which time the upstairs did not have plumbing or electricity, and the wear and tear of over a century of living was evident.

When turned down by restoration professionals, the couple learned to do the job themselves. Through painstaking efforts, the home has now been restored to its original grandeur and is open for tours.

Southern Hotel: The Phoenix Award

Joseph and Lisa Condrey Ward purchased the Southern Hotel property in 2011 and decided, along with Ricky and Gale Condrey, to bring the hotel, constructed in 1907, back to downtown Covington.

Lisa Condrey Ward led the family restoration over the past three years revitalizing the century-old boutique hotel. Trapolin-Peer Architects worked to renovate the property into a modern oasis while highlighting the historical significance of the mission-style architecture. Many of the hotel’s original features were preserved and restored. Local officials and business owners see the new historic rehabilitation as positive economic development for Covington and the region. The hotel, which features 42 luxury rooms, a 2,400-square-foot ballroom, restaurant, bar, fitness center and spa, held its ribbon cutting ceremony on May 30.

Sue Ellen Graham: Volunteer of the Year

Since 1999, Graham has given of her time and talents as a tour guide, a training instructor for docents and guides, a researcher and co-author of a booklet for kindergarten through third-grade students about the Capital City and the Old Governor’s Mansion, Louisiana’s White House. As a senior docent she has hosted the December open house, lectured to tourists, taught innumerable Louisiana students about their heritage and today welcomes mansion visitors at the front door.

Through her affiliation with ExxonMobil, she and husband John Graham have contributed “doubly” to the foundation.

About the FHL

The Foundation for Historical Louisiana is a member-based, nonprofit organization committed to protecting the state’s cultural and architectural heritage through education and advocacy.

For more than 50 years, FHL and its dedicated supporters have worked to preserve historic landmarks, including their own headquarters, The Old Governor’s Mansion; Magnolia Mound; the Heidelberg Hotel; the Pentagon Barracks; Beauregard Town; Spanish Town; the Lincoln Theater and countless homes and architectural treasures throughout Louisiana.