“The one-day tours are designed to encourage people to see what is here, tell others about it, and come back themselves.” Trust Executive Director, Brian Davis
More than 160 people from across Louisiana and parts of Texas visited October 28 for the Washington Ramble sponsored by the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation and hosted by the Washington Garden Club. The trust sponsors a tour each spring and each fall.
It was the biggest Ramble yet to be hosted by the Trust, according to board member Winnie Byrd. Garden club members Catherine St. Cyr and Stephanie Tompkins were local co-chairwomen for the event. Director Celeste Gomez and the staff of the St. Landry Tourism Commission also helped plan and publicize the event.
The chairwomen thanked “the Town of Washington and the St. Landry Parish Tourist commission, many financial donations, and citizens who donated their time and talents, and especially the folks who opened their homes and properties to welcome our visitors.”
Sites on the Washington tour included the Eagle Hotel on Bayou Courtableau at Main Street, and the Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant across Main Street from the hotel, St. Mark’s Methodist Church on West Vine at Prescott, Crawford house and Offutt house, both on East Carriere Street, St. John Episcopal Church on Church Street, Serenity House on White Oak Drive, and the Demaret House on St. John Street.
Visitors were also invited to take a self-guided tour of the Washington Historic District.
The one-day tours are designed to encourage people “to see what is here, tell others about it, and come back themselves,” according to Trust executive director Brian Davis. He said the Rambles try to provide a chance to see homes and buildings not usually open to the public.
Welcoming speaker Jim Bradshaw, coordinator of the Historic Washington Cultural District, noted that the St. Landry Parish community reportedly has more authentic old homes and buildings than Williamsburg, Virginia, where many of the buildings are reproductions. When the Washington Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, organizers identified 260 nineteenth and early twentieth century structures in the one-square-mile area.
The non-profit Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation was founded in 1979 as a statewide network of preservationists seeking “to promote the preservation of the diverse culture and historic resources of Louisiana through education, technical assistance, outreach and advocacy.”
In partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, and the Preservation Resource Center, it provides technical assistance in saving and preserving the state’s historic buildings, with particular emphasis on buildings on its “most endangered” list.
The Louisiana Trust recently established a revolving fund to actively save and protect endangered historic properties across the state, according to its president, John Denison of Monroe.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, it can accept donations of property or take an option to purchase them. In certain cases, it can purchase a property in order to stabilize it.
The organization also works with owners of historic properties who want to ensure that their homes and buildings will be preserved in the future.
Proceeds from the Washington Ramble go to further the mission of the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation.