New Signs For Historic Sites In Downtown Opelousas

OPELOUSAS, LA (AP) — As part of Historic Preservation Month, the city of Opelousas is showing off new signs at its historic locations around town.

         The city tourism office announced the addition of historic bronze plaques for selected historic buildings and sites in the National Historic District located in the heart of downtown Opelousas.

         The bronze signs are part of a project funded by a Preserve America Grant through the U.S. Department of the Interior. The signs will share the history of the city and region. The project will offer the opportunity to educate locals and visitors about early business — some which are now extinct — in the city. City officials also hope to educate citizens, especially the youth of the city, about the important role Opelousas played in Louisiana for the past 295 years.

         Main Street manager Melanie Lee-Lebouef said that the signs will not only be for tourists to the city, but for residents learning about the city's history. "The signs will allow locals and visitors to learn about the rich history and architecture of this city," she said.

         Historic sites receiving bronze plaques include: Jim Bowie Oak, Shute Building (1924), Old Federal Building (1891), Old Lacombe Hotel site (c. 1790), Union Bank Building (1911), Delta Grand Theatre (1920), City Hall (1945). More plaques are planned as grant funding becomes available.

         "This is a great way to honor our past, celebrate our heritage, and preserve our wonderful culture we have here (in Opelousas)," Mayor Reggie Tatum said. "This is another component of the revitalization of our downtown area, and a way to draw visitors to our city" he added.

         The project is part of an effort to both preserve and promote the Opelousas Historic District and the city's history to both visitors and residents. For historic accuracy, Opelousas Tourism worked with local historian and author, John Harper, who served as consultant.

         Other preservation projects in recent years included the creation of the Opelousas Historic District Walking Tour Guide, installation of interpretive signs at Le Vieux Village and Historic District street sign toppers.

         – by AP/ Reporter Chad Washington with The Daily World

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