Today’s Town Talk features an interview with Charles Charrier, the President of the Historical Association of Central Louisiana, whose passion for the preservation of our historical properties has undoubtedly spared many buildings from the irreversible destruction of the wrecking ball, including, most recently the old Cotton Brothers building on Bolton Avenue and Mt. Shiloh Church in Downtown Alexandria. Mr. Charrier, along with Paul Smith, JoBetty Sterkx, Buddy Tudor, Mike Jenkins, and many others, has remained faithfully committed to the twin causes of downtown revitalization and historic preservation. In the interview, he offers a lucid explanation for the necessity of historic preservation:
Q: Why should citizens care about historical preservation?
A: Let me answer this question with a question: If you or I were required to attend a formal function where national, state and local dignitaries would be present, would we wear our shabbiest clothes? Would we not take great pains to put on our “Sunday best” and to attend to our grooming so that we would be suitably attired and prepared for such an event? Why not have that same attitude when it comes to preserving our historic buildings? A few historic downtown buildings are restored and shining. However, a quick cursory tour of downtown Alexandria leaves much to be desired in looking our best when we invite state and national dignitaries to our town. Isn’t it time for us as citizens to think positively about what can and should be done downtown and to renew our commitment to our historic buildings in our downtown? Why you ask? The condition of our historic buildings are good barometers of our civic pride and how we feel about ourselves as a city. Other cities in this state have undertaken with great success to preserve and to revitalize their downtown areas. They are finding a new sense of place and a new sense of civic pride engulfing their communities. In the Civil War, Alexandria survived the complete destruction of our city. Strong families with indomitable spirits rose to the challenge of rebuilding Alexandria. At this juncture and time in our city’s history, that same indomitable spirit of former Alexandrians should propel us into action as a matter of civic pride to revitalize our downtown. Tourist dollars, a renewed sense of who we are, and a boon to Alexandria’s economy will result in the action we take now to revitalize downtown.
Mr. Charrier’s call to action is infectious. Let’s follow Mr. Charrier’s lead. To join the Historical Association of Central Louisiana, you can call (318) 448-3952 or send an e-mail to: HistAssoc@aol.com.
Rapides Parish currently has 71 properties on the National Registry of Historic Places, 35 of which are located within the Alexandria City Limits. It’s a staggering and impressive number, something of which we can all be proud, and it is the direct result of the work of people like Charles Charrier and Paul Smith.
To read the entire interview between Cynthia Jardon and Charles Charrier, click here.