[StBernard] St. Bernard holds two groundbreakings Tuesday
Westley at da-parish.com
Thu Jun 18 08:43:53 EDT 2009
St. Bernard Parish breaks ground on Los Islenos Museum Complex
Celebration of growth to include three ground breakings over two days
St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro Jr., along with a host of
officials and citizens, celebrated Recovery and Growth in St. Bernard Parish
with a much-anticipated Ground Breaking ceremony at the site of the Los
Islenos Museum Complex on Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Tuesday morning President Taffaro, local, state and federal officials as
well as many members of the Los Islenos Heritage and Cultural Society, clad
in traditional Canary Island garb, gathered to break ground at the Los
Islenos Museum site at 1345-1357 Bayou Road in St. Bernard Village to mark
the beginning of repairs to several structures, most with great historic
significance in the area, donated by long-time families with deep roots in
the Isleno culture in St. Bernard. The structures on the 30-acre complex all
need roof repairs and electrical work because they suffered from Hurricane
Katrina's storm surge which swept six to nine feet of water on the complex
The construction that will be paid for with FEMA funds will cost about $1.7
million and will be finished in January 2010 so that next spring's Isleno
Fiesta can be held on the grounds, President Taffaro said.
Since President Taffaro took office 18 months ago, more than 160 FEMA-funded
Hurricane Katrina recovery projects have been started, including this week's
"By the end of this year, we will have just about every project that is a
FEMA-related project underway and in progress," he said at the ground
breaking before a crowd of officials and Isleno Society members.
The complex has two main museums in the front, the Isleno Museum and the
Ducros Musuem. Stretching back on the land is a series of historical family
buildings, cottages and such that have been moved to the complex over the
years and will undergo repairs.
The Isleno Museum, demolished free of charge by Councilman Fred Everhardt in
March of 2008, will have to be completely rebuilt because it was destroyed a
huge water oak that crushed it during Hurricane Katrina. It will be rebuilt
as a replica on the exterior, using two of the original doors and much of
the original fabric, including the stained glass dormer windows, and
chamfered post beveled four-sided outdoor posts. The inside will be
different from the original cottage in that it will have an altered floor
plan that will enlarge the exhibit area and improve traffic flow.
The original Isleno Museum building, built in 1840, was donated to the
parish in 1980 by Louise Molero O'Toole and Mabel Molero Quatroy in memory
of their parents Manuel Molero and Camilla Sylvera Molero. The sisters
donated so it could house a museum that honored the Isleno heritage. The
one-story gabled roof Creole cottage was the first museum in the United
States dedicated to the Canary Islands history and culture. St. Bernard was
founded by colonists from the Canary Islands between 1778 and 1783.
The demolition of the structure which was in danger of collapse at the time
made way for President Taffaro to return the annual Isleno Fiesta to its
home grounds in April 2008, the first time since Katrina.
The Ducros Museum sits to the west of the Isleno Museum site. This structure
built in 1800 was donated in 1971 to St. Bernard Parish by Rosa Ducros
Tennant in memory of her father, Former Parish Coroner Louis Alfred Ducros,
M.D. An overview of St. Bernard Parish history will be housed there with an
emphasis on the Canarian presence in St. Bernard, and it will house a
research library as well. Its floors must be leveled, and it will have roof
repairs and be rewired. The historic brick between post walls will be
repointed and plastered over as originally built. The cypress posts were
hand hewn, and the bricks were handmade on the property for this historic
Another aspect of the renovations will be work on the Coconut Island Bar
Building, a popular community gathering place for years moved to the site.
The storm surge racked the building on its foundation, and it will have to
be made plum again. The windows that washed out will be replaced, and some
of the all-cypress floor boards will need replacing. The roof damage will
need to be repaired and the steps will need to be rebuilt. Electrical
service will be reestablished. The physical Coconut Bar, built around 1920
and made of cypress and mahogany where cocktails were served, will also be
restored. It was built by Martina Nunez and his son Edward "Dween" Nunez,
who will be 103 in October and is the oldest living Isleno in St. Bernard.
The Cresap-Caserta House, donated by 34th state Judicial District Judge
Wayne Cresap, will be repaired. Its roof had a huge pecan tree fall on it,
exacting tremendous damage to rafters, and its windows were broken through
by the storm surge. Repairs also will be done to the box columns on the
front, the back gallery floor as well as interior cypress flooring.
The support facilities that also will be built during this renovation will
include sewage treatment, water, underground electrical service for all the
buildings and two food pavilions with electrical service for festivals and
Also the parish will rebuild the replica of early 20th century trappers'
cabin originally designed and built by Calvin Melerine.
In a later phase awaiting the receipt of bids, the parish also will be
rebuilding the Isleno Multi-purpose building and replacements of the
Estopinal House and Kitchen, which were destroyed. The replicas will
incorporate a great deal of historic fabric from the original Estopinal
house and kitchen.
Work for the Isleno Multi-purpose building, Estopinal House and Kitchen will
be bid shortly. The Los Islenos Heritage and Cultural Society is renovating
the Esteves House with club funds at a cost of about $65,000.
Kevin Smith Construction, which has been charged with other historic
reconstruction and restoration projects such as Gallier Hall and Hermann
Grima House in New Orleans, is the contractor. Trapolin Architects is the
firm responsible for the design, and Chalmette native Chris Chimento is
Trapolin's project manager. Clyde Burnett is the project manager for CDM,
which provides oversight for all FEMA-funded projects, and Keith LaGrange of
the St. Bernard Parish is the resident inspector.
After turning dirt at the Islenos Museum Complex, officials traveled to
another ground breaking at the Violet Park 2, a recreational facility used
often for adult baseball leagues and by youth and church groups.
MDM is the contractor for the Violet Park 2 project that will cost about
$500,000 and should be finished some time in July. Meyer Engineers is the
firm responsible for the architect and design work. Doug Landry is the
project manager for CDM, and Diana Goin is the parish resident inspector.
For more information about Recovery and Growth in St. Bernard Parish, visit
our website at www.sbpg.net
Photo by Karen Turni Bazile: Public officials, contractors, architects and
members of the Los Islenos Heritage and Culture Society are shown at the
ground breaking at the Los Islenos Museum Complex from left: John Gordon of
Sen. David Vitter's office, Gil Carlin of Public Works, Amana Beheyt of
Congressman Charlie Melancon's office, Keith LaGrange, Resident Inspector
for the parish, former President Charles Ponstein, Los Islenos Museum
Complex Director Bill Hyland, Councilman George Cavignac, Doug Landry of
CDM, Lloyd "Wimpy" Serigne, Fred Estopinal of Kevin Smith Construction,
Kathy Serpas Fanz, Peter Trapolin, principal and owner of Trapolin
Architects, Chris Chimento, project manager for Trapolin Architects,
Councilman Ray Lauga, Kathy Serpas, Clyde Burnett of CDM, Doris Serigne,
Councilman Wayne Landry, John Booth, Parish President Craig Taffaro, Dennis
Tauzin of CDM, Los Islenos Heritage and Cultural Society President Dot
Benge, Councilman Fred Everhardt, Amy Webbeking of FEMA, Isleno Society Vice
President Joan Nunez Phillips, Steve Brice of the state GOHSEP office,
Recovery Director Mike Dorris Jr. Jerry Estopinal, Lorraine McDaniel, Cinda
Melerine, Bertin Esteves, Martin Campo and Col. Eldridge Burns of FEMA.
Photo by Karen Turni Bazile: Shown at the ground breaking of Violet Park 2
from left: Amy Webbeking of FEMA, Amana Beheyt of Congressman Charlie
Melancon's office, Eldridge Burns of FEMA, Councilman Ray Lauga, Diana Goin,
Resident Inspector; Doug Landry of CDM, Donny Bourgeois, Director of
Recreation and Parks, Dennis Tauzin of CDM, Parish President Craig P.
Taffaro Jr., Councilman Wayne Landry, John Gordon of Sen. David Vitter's
office, Councilman Fred Everhardt, Parish Chief Administrative Officer Dave
Steve Brice of the state GOHSEP office, Councilman George Cavignac, Recovery
Director Mike Dorris Jr., former President Charles Ponstein.
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