Renovation giving building new life for local Red Cross

Reposted from the Town Talk’s website

Renovation work continues on the Cotton Brothers Building — soon to be the new location of the Central Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross. 

The organization began renovations earlier this year to the building located at 425 Bolton Ave. in Alexandria. But just recently workers with Petron tore down an add-on to the original building, said Leann Murphy, CEO of the local Red Cross chapter.

Murphy said removal of the addition from the original art-deco structure helped open up the whole block of Bolton.

Workers now are constructing load-bearing walls inside the 75-year-old structure to allow for roof repairs.

Once the renovations are finished, the building will serve as office space and provide the Red Cross with a warehouse and designated training area. The second floor of the building will be left vacant initially. Read the rest of the story here:


Inside Cotton Brothers/Trailways Building -- soon to be American Red Cross Headquarters

Inside Cotton Brothers/Trailways Building -- soon to be American Red Cross Headquarters


Cotton Brothers Bakery BECOMING Red Cross Headquarters

I was excited to receive an email and pictures today from Melinda Anderson, Director of the City of Alexandria’s Historic Preservation Commission (AHPC), of work that’s being started on the old Cotton Brothers Bakery/Trailways building on Bolton Avenue.  Ever since the news that the American Red Cross bought the building and obtained grants to rehabilitate it, I have passed by this building, almost daily, hoping to see contractors working or bricks being moved…or something!  Nothing really much has changed over the past 24 months…until today!  Here is what it looks like right now:



I am excited for the city, for my neighborhood, for the American Red Cross and double thumbs up to all involved in saving this historic structure and for finding a new use for it.  Preservation of a historic or older building is the ultimate green thought. I can’t wait to see the final product!  I know this building will be a shining star on the Bolton Avenue corridor.   I look forward to more stories like this.  Alexandria needs it.


425 Bolton Avenue

Yay!  Tuesday, a wall breaking ceremony was conducted at 425 Bolton Avenue which signified a turning point in this building’s history.  Instead of a date with the wrecking ball, this building will be given new life and new purpose by being rehabilitated into the local American Red Cross’ headquarters.  It is a monument on Bolton Avenue and many persons remember fondly riding their bike down Bolton Avenue alongside this building.  The grants and funds obtained for this project are going to be well spent.  I am excited to see the American Red Cross get a “new”, larger headquarters, all the while advancing Alexandria’s historic preservation.  Thumbs up to the City, HPC and all persons who made this possible.

Here are some pictures from yesterday’s ceremony.:




Old Empty Building To Become Useful Again


Nothing warms my heart more than to see an old historic building being renovated and turned into useful real estate.  Unfortunately, we have many old buildings languishing here in Cenla.  The American Red Cross purchased a building just a couple blocks from my house and will start construction next month to return this building to its former glory.  This is historic preservation in Cenla at its finest moment in many years.  In my book, I think that the opening of the Bentley would be the only thing that could trump this event.  I am excited because it should start breathing life into Bolton Avenue and subsequently the surrounding neighborhoods.  I am here to stay!

Click here to read KALB’s recent story

I received an invitation to the “Wall Breaking” ceremony for this building that will be held on January 13th at 1:30 p.m.  The address of the building is 425 Bolton Avenue.  Persons wishing to attend this historic event are welcome.


Pub Night a Success!

Finnegan's Wake


The Historical Association of Central Louisiana, last night, hosted Pub Night at Finnegan’s Wake.  Even though the weather was bleak, the turnout for this downtown event was high.  Upon walking through the front door, you are immediately transported back to a gentler time.  I felt that instead of seeing modern conveniences, I should have seen gentlemen in top hats.

Noelle and Shannon Nolan, co-owners of the pub, mingled with the crowd and shared the highs and lows of their time renovating the beautiful building on Third Street.  The inspiration came from one of Shannon Nolan’s trips to England.  He visited a historic and well outfitted Irish pub and decided to come back home to Louisiana and try it out.  The result is the charming pub located at 812 Third Street named Finnegan’s Wake.  Shannon Nolan and Galen Bohannon (co-owners of the pub) both painstakingly restored this building with as many architectural materials that were still present in the building.  The other architectural details you see at the pub are architectural salvage finds from some of Shannon Nolan’s favorite vendors.  My favorite part of the pub is the beautiful set of windows that adorn the entrance of the building from floor to ceiling.  In the afternoon, the sunlight filters in filling the pub with a cozy glow.  My second favorite part is the gothic style church pews that line the back walls, and you must, must, must go check out the bathroom!  The bathroom is another piece of art all by itself as the fixtures, wood work and authentic wallpaper are a beautiful blend of tasteful style and history.  Many of the building’s light fixtures were restored and are used in the pub.

Jock Scott, a well known Central Louisianan, brought his recent work for purchase, the biography of his Aunt, a well known entrepreneur and businesswoman of the early 20th century.  Mr. Jock graciously signed his book and chatted with any historian interested in further details of his family’s history. While the Nolans enjoyed the company, Galen Bohannon happily served as bartender behind the counter.

If you did not come, we missed you!  If you did come, thanks for stopping by!  See ya next time.


Pub Night – Downtown Alexandria, November 11th

Finnegan's Wake

Finnegan's Wake

The Historical Association of Central Louisiana invites you to join us for:


“Celebrating Downtown Alexandria”

Tuesday, November 11th Veteran’s Day

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.


812 Third Street, Alexandria, Louisiana     

RSVP: (318) 448-3952

Invite a friend and join us as we celebrate those individuals who have already invested in downtown revitalization by restoring historic buildings.  Security on premises.  Non-alcoholic beverages and refreshments will be provided by HACL.

***Visit with Jock Scott and have him sign your purchase of his recent work, “Natalie Scott: A Magnificent Life”, the story of Jock’s great aunt, a noted Louisianian of the early 20th Century.

Alexandria Business Highlight

Finnegan's Wake


812 3rd St
Alexandria, LA 71301
(318) 619-9622

Finnegan’s Wake pub, co-owned by Shannon Nolan and Galen Bohannon, is a perfect example of what the buildings in downtown Alexandria can look like.  This building, beautifully redone and preserved, sits directly across the street from the once illustrious Bentley Hotel.  The inside is a sight to see and, if you decide to stop by, you won’t be disapointed.   From what I hear, this is a great place to stop by at the end of a long work day.  I have not verified this yet, I don’t drink.  But, if you run into the Nolans, tell ’em I said “hi” and to keep up the good work.


Historic Property Spotlight: Thompson-Hargis House


Today, I would like to spotlight the Thompson-Hargis house.  In 2007, the Louisiana Trust listed it as one of the “10 Most Endangered” properties in Louisiana.  At present, it is not inhabited and its large porch and  historic rooms remain empty.  This home is still owned by the Hargis family and it is unclear as to why no one occupies the home or why it has not been donated or sold to someone with an interest in its upkeep.

This beautiful mansion rivals the best on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans.  Built in 1902, this home is probably the greatest example of the Greek Revival style in Alexandria.  Many in Alexandria don’t even realize that it exists.  For the ones who are familiar with the Cook Home on Florence Avenue (A large red brick Queen Anne Victorian on the corner of Florence Avenue and Monroe Street), this house sits directly to the right.  If you get a chance, drive by and take a look.  I am not sure how many more years this house will stand due to neglect, so enjoy Alexandria’s architecture while you still have it.