by Anne Butler; Photos by Henry Cancienne
In 1980, realizing that across the nation significant historic commercial districts were at risk of being lost, the National Trust for Historic Preservation established the National Main Street Center to help revitalize deteriorating downtowns by focusing on preservation combined with sustainable economic development. In 1984 Louisiana joined the national network. Today there are twenty-nine Louisiana Main Street communities and four Main Street Urban Districts, thirty-three programs that are as different as they are alike in their attempts to improve their economic bases and rehabilitate historic buildings for productive, often repurposed, life. Louisiana’s lovely little Main Street communities are scattered across the state, providing a huge diversity, as seen in the spectacular full-color images that capture the spirit and soul of each place. The earliest ones developed along the major waterways, while inland ones had to await the coming of the railroad. Some are tiny. Many are parish seats of government, the historic commercial corridors flanking iconic courthouses and town squares. They trace their foundings to French, Spanish, Creole, Acadian, English, Italian, German settlers and each one of them reflects the cultural variety of this gumbo state of Louisiana. But they all have one thing in common, a burning desire to hold on to their unique sense of place and to preserve the early downtowns that were the heart and soul of the communities.
Featuring the Main Streets of: Abbeville, Bastrop, Clinton, Columbia, Crowley, Denham Springs, DeRidder, Donaldsonville, Eunice, Franklin, Hammond, Houma, Leesville, Minden, Morgan City, Natchitoches, New Iberia, New Roads, Opelousas, Plaquemine, Ponchatoula, Ruston, St. Francisville, St. Martinville, Slidell, Springhill, Thibodaux, Winnsboro, and the New Orleans’ Urban Districts: North Rampart Street, O.C. Haley Boulevard, St. Claude Avenue, and Broad Street.
Hardcover, 256 pages, ©2012