Tulane Preservation Studies class focuses on Dville

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
A group shot of Tulane Master's students in Preservation Studies who spent time in Donaldsonville to propose a plan for preservation and renovation to the city.

The latest Master's Class in Tulane's Preservation Studies program spent time in Donaldsonville in the recent weeks to come up with a plan to improve the city. Mayor Leroy Sullivan and Director of Community and Economic Development Lee Melancon were among those who attended their presentation of findings to the public.

"We definitely appreciate everything you're doing," Melancon said. "We would like to thank Mr. Stubbs and Beth Jacob and the students."

The students discussed many different aspects of city improvement. Highlights were making waterways more accessible and "beautified."

"Thank you Donaldsonville for the privelage of letting us study your amazing town," Prof. Stubbs said. "Needless to say, we are in love. We all want to move here."

One student discussed "easy" fixes like murals along different bare concrete walls in the city. Donaldsonville has some wonderful artists. So that seemed like a good idea.

Moreover, Grace Davis and Yara Hantash discussed the old rice mill. There plans for cleaning it up and turning into a modern office space and storage facility were awe inspiring.

A similar presentation for the Chinese laundry on Railroad Avenue was made by Yujue Wang. Wang showed several designs--one being a modern bar with music and an outdoor patio, another being an open gallery art space, and yet another being a modern coffee shop with outdoor seating and a gallery space.

Next, Victoria Falcon discussed the Historic General Store renovation. Although, this is actually happening this week. Chef John Folse has decided to restore this building. It will be called the Chef John Folse Building and will become a museum. If the Chinese laundry would reopen to become any of the ideas Wang presented, it could be a major spot for locals and tourists to enjoy the Historic District again.

Next, Will McCallum discussed turning the abandoned Episcopal Church into a new library. Those plans looked beautiful, as well.

Moreover, the Claiborne Williams house was discussed by Joey Solorio. Solorio said it felt dear to him to focus on preservation of the Williams home because he was also a musician.

Still other students presented an updated city brochure that was beautiful and might stand out against the "swamp tour" brochures it tends to sit next to in New Orleans and Baton Rouge tourist huts.

All and all, the presentation was an amazing foot forward into thinking about the future of Donaldsonville. In order to attract more residents and visitors, perhaps these students' ideas are the spark that will help a rejuvenation of one the oldest, most beautiful nooks in Louisiana.