Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2005

Staff Reporter

Reserve – St. John the Baptist Parish Councilman Allen St. Pierre is actively searching for an individual or a group of individuals willing to work with the local Historical Society in refurbishing the old Godchaux House, located on the corner of LA 44 and W. 10th Street in Reserve.

Receiving many complaints from parish residents, St. Pierre said he met with several members of the Historical Society on Friday to discuss ideas for the aged structure.

“I met with about four members from the Society. We were all aged in our 70s and 80s. It was decided we needed someone in their 50s, that is willing to take control of this project. We need new blood. We need someone with energy and enthusiasm that can take the ball and run with it,” said St. Pierre.

The councilman said a volunteer is needed to solicit grants, raise money, implore laborers, promote fund raisers, etc. in order to finance reconstruction of the old home.

Economic Development Director Julia Remondet told St. Pierre someone donated an old house for the project. Remondet said the old home could be demolished and the lumber salvaged to repair the Godchaux house.

Marathon Oil Company, located on Airline Highway between Garyville and Reserve, told St. Pierre the company would donate several laborers to help with the project.

St. Pierre said the project is in dire need of finances and that the parish does not have the money necessary to take on the venture.

“I believe this enterprise will cost from $50,000 to $100,000,” said St. Pierre. “Our parish is going through a budget crunch. We do not have the money to put out on this.

The Port of South Louisiana donated the home to a local chapter of the Historical Society in September 1993.

To avoid being torn down, the building was moved to its present location. It sits on property belonging to the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board.

St. Pierre said a $60,000 grant was awarded to the Society to refurbish the home and that the money was used to stabilize the lower portion of the building.

“The building’s galvanized steel roof is still in good enough condition to keep dampness out of the structure,” said St. Pierre.

The Councilman said a Brownsfield grant in the amount of $15,000 has been applied for. However, it is not guaranteed and he has not heard anything regarding the grant’s application.

St. Pierre said restoration of the home requires parking to be added, as well.

“The old Reserve Grammar School located on the side of the old home would have to be removed for parking,” said St. Pierre. “That means the grammar school would have to be purchased from the School Board and torn down so that a parking lot could be constructed.”

St. Pierre said if no one takes on the project, then the old home would have to be torn down.

“I do not want to see the parish pay for the home’s demolition. We can’t recoup our money for tearing it down.”

Anyone wishing to take on the project is asked to call the local Historical Society or Councilman Allen St. Pierre.