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Schepis Museum to Get Main Street Funds for Restoration

Barry Landry & Julio Guichard
Louisiana Office of Cultural Development

The Schepis Museum in Columbia has been awarded $2,500 as part of the Louisiana Main Street Program. The grant is being used to repair ceilings and three sections of the interior walls damaged by a water leak from the roof. Also, The Schepis Foundation has raised matching funds to replace subfloor and carpet in the building as well. 

The grant to the Schepis Museum is part of $100,000 in grant funding awarded through the Louisiana Main Street program to ten Main Street communities to revitalize historic commercial buildings. The program is part of the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development’s Division of Historic Preservation.

The Louisiana Main Street program is an economic development program with its foundation in historic preservation. The program offers two types of competitive state-funded, dollar-for-dollar matching Restoration Grants, a $10,000 grant for major projects and a $2,500 grant for minor projects. Grants are awarded annually for either interior or exterior rehabilitation for a historic commercial building.

“The Louisiana Main Street Restoration Grants are intended to serve as a catalyst for change in these communities that otherwise may not have been possible,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “Historic downtowns are the heart of any community and the people who live near these areas will reap the benefits from seeing commercial buildings put back into productive reuse. Visitors and tourists visit a town to learn about its history, experience its culture, and to see its historic landmarks.”

The 2018-2019 Louisiana Main Street Restoration Grant recipients are:

  • Gulf Coast Housing Program (Weiss Building); O.C. Haley Boulevard in New Orleans
  • Claudia Morgan & Courtland Porter (Bazus Building); New Iberia Main Street
  • Jules, Armond and Barbara Schwing (Old Post Office); New Iberia Main Street
  • Vera Warren-Williams (Community Book Center); North Broad Street in New Orleans
  • Donaldsonville Area Foundation (Mistretta Store); Donaldsonville Main Street
  • Natalie Noel, White Owl Properties; Donaldsonville Main Street
  • Shannon Hardware Store; Morgan City Main Street
  • Annette’s House of Décor; Slidell Main Street
  • Georgia Morel (Circa Event Center); New Roads Main Street
  • Vera Nagy (Old Bodemuller Building); Opelousas Main Street
  • Schepis Museum Foundation; Columbia Main Street
  • Johnathan R. Schmidt Law Offices; Hammond Main Street
  • Paul E. Brown; Eunice Main Street.

The Schepis Museum Foundation, a main street community in Columbia were granted $2,500 from the Louisiana Main Street Restoration. The donation grant was used for repair damages due to a water leakage from the rooftop causing the ceiling and three sections of the interior walls to be replaced. Also, for a section of subfloor and carpet in the room to be substituted. "It was a matching grant and we have the funds to match that", said Beth Hefner, who is the main street manager of the Schepis Museum. Hefner also expressed, "when we get that repair finish we'll be able to use that particular place to store our art."
More information on each of the recipients is available here.

“We are excited to work collaboratively with this year’s Restoration Grant recipients as the projects come to fruition in these communities,” said Ray Scriber, Director of the Louisiana Main Street Program. “Each community’s approach to downtown revitalization is different and unique. It has been our experience that our Redevelopment Grants many times are the spark that ignites other commercial building owners near these properties to restore their buildings.”

The Louisiana Main Street program operates under the umbrella of the National Main Street Center, an arm of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Since 1984, Louisiana’s Main Street program has helped more than 40 communities with design, planning, staff training, and capacity building. The program also provides revitalization technical assistance in the areas of economic development, streetscape design, promotion, and organization.

To qualify for the statewide grant funding, required criteria include that a building must be located within a Main Street district, be used for commercial purposes, and be at least 50 years old. In addition, the proposed work must be approved by the local Historic District Commission and the Louisiana Main Street office, while also conforming to the guidelines set forth by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

Grant awardees were selected by a panel of experts from other coordinating Main Street programs across the country. The panel judged each application based on the proposed scope of work to determine a ranking in order to be selected to receive a grant.

Overall, Louisiana Main Street communities have seen $931 million in total investment between the private and public sectors including new construction and rehabilitation along with 12,722 new jobs, 2,962 new businesses, and more than 982,832 volunteers.