Crews uncover a piece of downtown's past

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Construction crews working in downtown Lake Charles uncovered a bit of history – quite literally.

While working on the Ryan Streetscape, crews discovered some underground storage tanks. The tanks were found beneath a layer of bricks, which was the surface of the old Ryan Street.

"They were not on anyone's map," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. "No one had any indication that those underground storage tanks were there."

The contents of the tanks are not known and the tanks do not appear to pose any danger. As required by law, officials called DEQ and other agencies to remove the tanks.

According to McNeese State University's Archives and Special Collections Department, in the area where crews are working, between Clarence and Kirby Streets, was where a fueling station once sat decades ago.

"We went back through the years in the city directories to see what was at that address, and we found that it has been a serving station with various names," said Pati Threatt, Interim Archivist at McNeese.

Threatt said the block was home to Lyons Service Station from about 1927 to 1945. At some point in the 1940s the property appears to have changed ownership and was known as the Potter & Vincent fueling station. In the 1950s it was home to various auto repair shops. In the 1970s the state department of education operated an auto mechanic school at the same address.

At present day, a carpet cleaning business (with a different address than the auto shops) sits on the property where the fueling stations were located.

As far as the Ryan Streetscape project, crews were able to move to the other side of the street to continue their work.

The discovery is expected to set them back by one week.

City officials expect the Ryan Streetscape to be complete in late spring, early summer of 2012.

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