[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish holds Grand Opening at Islenos Complex --- First in a series of five recovery celebrations in March, marking $6.5 million in federal, state and local construction dollars spent

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Tue Mar 30 22:56:54 EDT 2010

St. Bernard Parish holds Grand Opening at Islenos Complex

First in a series of five recovery celebrations in March, marking $6.5
million in federal, state and local construction dollars spent

St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro, Jr., joined by parish,
federal and state officials marked the grand opening and completion of more
than $2.5 million in renovations and construction of nine historical
structures at the 30-acre Los Islenos Museum Complex at 1345-1357 Bayou Road
in St. Bernard.

"It certainly is a glorious day for the culture and heritage of our parish,"
President Taffaro said at a brief ceremony the morning of the Islenos Fiesta
that was attended by descendants of the two families who donated the
original two structures for the complex, meant to preserve the Canary
Islands history and culture. St. Bernard was founded by colonists from the
Canary Islands between 1778 and 1783. Islenos is the Spanish word for

In addition to the Grand Opening of the Islenos Museum Complex, President
Taffaro marked a total of five other recovery celebrations in March: the
Grand Opening of Violet Park No. 2, the Construction Ground Breaking of the
Aycock Barn/Open Air Market, and the grand openings of both the Parish
Maintenance Garage and Maintenance Shed, a total of more than $6.5 million
in federal, state and local recovery dollars meant to move the parish
forward and restore it to its pre-Katrina glory.

The work at Los Islenos Museum Complex has been funded mostly by FEMA with
the support of the Los Islenos Society to repair damage wrought by Hurricane
Katrina's flooding and winds. The complex has two main museums in the front,
the Islenos Museum and the Ducros Museum. In addition to the two museums,
seven other structures were moved to the site or built with funds raised by
Los Islenos Society working concurrently with St. Bernard Parish Government.

"The work of the Islenos Society to support parish government has been an
object lesson in the success of public-private partnerships and how those
partnerships shape a community," said William demerging Hyland, Los Islenos
Museum Complex Director and Parish Historian.

Officials at the pre-fiesta ceremony were joined on stage by the Dot Benge,
president of Los Islenos Heritage and Cultural Society. She is the daughter
and niece of the Louise Molero O'Toole and Mabel Molero Quatroy who in 1980
donated their family home in memory of their parents Manuel Molero and
Camilla Sylvera Molero. The family subsequently donated an additional 20
acres that have been used to transform the tranquil, pastoral area over the
better part of the last three decades into a magnificent historic village
that brings visitors from all over, especially on the weekend of the spring
Islenos Fiesta, sponsored by the Los Islenos and Heritage Society.
Additionally, Alexandre Ducros, the great grandson of Dr. Louis Alfred
Ducros, also spoke about the donation of the Ducros Museum and Library by
his great aunt, the late Rosa Mathilde Ducros Tennant who donated the family
home in 1971.

A historical replica of the Islenos Museum, originally constructed in 1840,
had to be built because the building was destroyed by a fallen oak during
Katrina, and the Ducros home, built in 1800, was restored to its pre-Katrina

The renovations also included restoration work on the Coconut Island Bar
Building, a popular community gathering place for years that had been moved
to the site by the Society. The storm surge racked the building on its
foundation, and it was made plum again. The windows that washed out have
been replaced, and some of the all-cypress floor boards have been replaced.
The roof damage has been repaired and the steps rebuilt. Electrical service
has been reestablished. The physical Coconut Bar, built around 1920 and made
of cypress and mahogany, has been restored, which allowed the St. Bernard
Tourism Commission to serve Sangria, Spanish wine and appetizers during the
Islenos Fiesta. It was built by Martina Nunez and his son Edward "Dween"
Nunez, who recently passed away at the age of 102 and was the oldest living
Islenos in St. Bernard at the time.

The Cresap-Caserta House has been 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 were done to the box columns
on the front, the back gallery floor as well as interior cypress flooring.

The support facilities that also were built during this renovation include
sewage treatment, water, underground electrical service for all the
buildings and two food pavilions with electrical service for festivals and
outdoor activities.

Also, the parish rebuilt the replica of early 20th century trappers' cabin
originally designed and built by Calvin Melerine.

In a later phase, the parish is currently rebuilding the Islenos
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.

The Los Islenos Heritage and Cultural Society is renovating the Esteves
House with club funds at a cost of about $72,000 and donated $84,000 to the
construction of the food pavilions.

President Taffaro said several departments worked together on this project
including Recovery Director Michael Dorris Jr. and his staff, Recreation
Director John Rahaim and his staff, including William deMarigny Hyland,
Museum Complex Director, and staff members of the St. Bernard Public Works
Department under Parish Acting Director of Public Works Logan Martin and
Assistant Public Works Director Louis Pomes.

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, was the contractor on the first phase. Trapolin
Architects is the firm responsible for the design of the entire complex, 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 Public Works
Department is the resident inspector.

For more information about Recovery and Growth in St. Bernard Parish, visit
our website at www.sbpg.net
<https://mail.sbpg.net/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.sbpg.net/> .


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