Accreditation: Plaquemine Historic Preservation celebrates 20th Anniversary

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
Shown are members of the Main Street Organization Committee: Main Street Manager Kristine Hebert, James “Fry” Hymel representing the Iberville Museum; Sissy Irwin of the Iberville Tourism Department; Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Mayor Tony Gulotta, Plaquemine Lock Ranger Stan Richardson of the Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site and Main Street Board member Charlene Bishop. Not Present: Yvonne Smith, board member and Plaquemine Depot Market representative.

PLAQUEMINE - The Plaquemine Main Street Program celebrated its 20-year anniversary along with the Promotion and Preservation of Iberville and the Louisiana Main Street, which celebrated their 30-year anniversary, during a ceremony on May 25. 

The celebration was held in conjunction with the annual National Trust Historic Preservation Awareness held in May.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta both spoke at the ceremony and Selectman Mickey Rivet was emcee. Numerous individuals who have been instrumental in the programs were also honored.

Plaquemine resident Sue G. Hebert was honored for her extensive volunteer efforts, including founding Promotion and Preservation of Iberville and helping establish the Main Street program. She introduced the Main Street program to Gulotta before he became mayor and served as the volunteer director of the Main Street program in the first years of its operation. She has contributed countless hours to a variety of historic preservation projects over the past 26 years.

Gulotta noted that he and Hebert were allies in the fight to get the Main Street program started in Plaquemine despite opposition from the former mayor and some selectmen at the time.

“I saw historic preservation as an economic development tool,” Gulotta said. “Historic preservation was a part of

The Main Street Program has resulted in 43 net new businesses, 188 net new jobs, private investment of $9 million and public investment of $20 million, said Main Street Manager Kristine Hebert. She also noted that over the last 10 years, over 7,000 volunteers have contributed more than 40,000 volunteer hours for community projects and events.

Gulotta said successes of the historic preservation efforts have included rejuvenating Bayou Plaquemine with fresh water, building the Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park as a community gathering place in the historic district, and restoring Old City Hall, which is now used as the Iberville Museum.

“Keeping businesses in the historic district is still a challenge because all the big box stores have started selling everything,” he said. “It’s hard for mom and pop businesses to compete.”

Dardenne noted that Plaquemine’s historic preservation efforts have been impressive.  

“I don’t know of any other program that the communities have more pride in than this one,” Dardenne said.

State Main Street Director Ray Scriber said that there are now 38 Louisiana-designated Main Street Programs but Plaquemine Main Street Program is a National Trust – Main Street Center – Accredited Main Street Program. 

“Not all Main Street Programs attain this high standard of accreditation,” Scriber said. “This is possible through the efforts of volunteers, city and community leaders and the Main Street Manager.”

Main Hall on Main Street is an example of a business that has benefited from the State’s Redevelopment Incentive Grant program for building restoration in downtown Plaquemine.  The law office of Pendley, Baudin and Coffin used the Louisiana historic tax credit program for its renovation.