Historic District Hurricane Damage

March 28, 2006

Reported by Libby White

The Calcasieu Preservation Society says thousands of tourists head to Lake Charles each year to see the Charpentier, Margaret Place, and Downtown Lake Charles historic districts.With that in mind, they say it's important to keep every house on the registry in good condition. After many homes were damaged by Hurricane Rita, the society says it's important to preserve those homes for our roots and our economy.

Mike Tremont just bought a house in the Charpentier District last Friday, complete with hurricane damage. Calcasieu Preservation Society President Virginia Webb says Tremont's house, along with others in the district held up considerably well.

"This (Tremont's) house was built in the late 1890's and it's been through three hurricanes now. The hurricane of 1918, Hurricane Audrey, and Hurricane Rita. Except for trees and roof damage, most of the houses in the Charpentier District did very well," said Webb.

That's a good thing, because the nationally registered historic district could lose its standing if too many of the structures are lost. "It's important that the houses not only continue to stand, which they've done, but to be repaired correctly because inappropriate repairs can also jeopardize your standing," said Webb.

Tremont says, "You replace material with like material. That's the golden rule." Strictly following those guidelines can present quite a few challenges. "I can't go down to Lowe's or Home Depot and get a new window sash. I can't put in vinyl or aluminum because it was originally made out of wood," said Tremont.

Repairing his roof won't be easy either: "I can't just slap plywood down and put asphalt shingles on top of it, I have to go through the layers of the roofing," said Tremont. However, both he and Webb say it's worth it: "The historic district is a wonderful tourist and economic benefit for Lake Charles, it has a huge impact on us," said Webb.

Rehabilitating a historic home could earn you a state tax credit, just call 225-342-8160 for more information. If you can check out some of Lake Charles' most historic homes, the Calcasieu Preservation Society's 31st Annual Palm Sunday Tour of Homes will be Sunday, April 9th, from 1 to 5 PM. Check out their web site for more: www.calcasieupreservation.com