RIP Thompson-Hargis Mansion

Last night was very sad for Preservationists in Cenla. The Thompson-Hargis home was irreparably destroyed by fire. At this time we know that it started in the back of the house and according to KALB, the cause was arson perpetuated by a 13 year old girl.  An arrest has been made.

A security guard has been posted at the house remains to deter vandalism until a future disposition of the house can be determined by the family. Built in 1907 (some documents I have say 1902) without the benefit of a house plan by B.F. Thompson, a Canadian, the Thompson-Hargis mansion survived a total of 105 years until its historic reign was brought to an untimely end on September 9, 2012. Rivaling the beautiful and well preserved mansions on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, this mansion was the last one of its kind in Alexandria.

Mansion Row, as it is locally named, will not be the same. RIP grand lady.





The above pictures were taken via iPhone as it was unfolding.  For pictures taken this morning, click here to be redirected to the WeSawThat blog.

P.S. I wrote a short post spotlighting this property in 2008 and made the comment that it would not last much longer in the state that it was presently in.  It has been a top post for the past two days, understandably so.  I am sad that this was a fulfilled prophecy. 😦

Spring is in the air!

Oh my….this is usually the time of year that I dust my blog off and then tackle about 10 projects at the same time.  🙂  This year is no exception.  I have accepted the nomination of Vice President of the Historical Association of Central Louisiana.  Thank you for your faith in me.  Among some of my duties, I will be writing a couple National Register nominations this year and working with property owners regarding tax incentives and rehabilitation of their properties.  I also have my property to work on and submission of a NR nomination is forthcoming in that area.  I finally have everything straight with the SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) regarding what they need from me and what I need to do.

My laundry room and kitchen are being “finished” by a carpenter as we speak.  Steven and I just ran out of steam labor wise and have been too involved in other things to get it finished.  So, we hired a good friend and excellent carpenter to come and finish what we started.

In adoption news, our home study was finalized yesterday.  All of the paperwork that our social worker needed from Mississippi came in and we can finally move forward with completing our dossier and sending our documents to China.  Within the next thirty days I hope!  National Register nominations pale in comparison with submitting a dossier to the Chinese Government!  Wow!

Many good things are in the works!!!  It is spring!  My favorite time of year.  I am ready to rock Cenla!


Formerly Known as the Palmoire

View from the backyard

The house on Florence that was formerly a spa and Bed & Breakfast is for sale.  It has been foreclosed on by Capital One.  Steven and I went and viewed it yesterday with the realtor.  Here are a few pictures from that walkthrough.  It has repairs that need to be made due to its standing empty for almost two years now.  Despite that, it has a good yard and a nice open floor plan on the first floor.  The second floor is all bedrooms. 

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The asking price is $300k.  I was astounded.  Noles Frye is the listing agent and they have comparable houses on Jackson Street and in the Garden District that have sat on the market from two, all the way up to four years now.  I don’t think they are going to get that price.  One problem is the appraisal due to no comps being in the area, they will have a hard time putting a value on the house (I know this from experience times two).  Since it has several repairs that need to be made (I will not include a list or pictures), comes with no appliances, and is not located in a prime neighborhood, I don’t see anyone paying that price for this house.  Who knows though?  Maybe someone will.


New-Old picture of my house

I just received this.  When I get more details, I will edit this post.  This is a picture of my house sometime in the early 1900’s.  Note the horse and buggy parked out front.  I am soooo thrilled to have this picture!  The turret (the cone) is long  gone and I have had an architect draw up some plans to restore it.  This picture is better than the other one I have.  I hear rumors that there are several pictures in existence, just tracking down who has them has been the hard thing.

Here is the only other picture I have of this house:  Click Here.

Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!  Ahem….anyway.  In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.  It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.  [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage, we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I sanded, repainted and recovered an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.  I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.   Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.   Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.  That was very interesting.  It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.  I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.  Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.  I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding  local and national politics.  I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.  Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.  That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.  I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.  Steven put up two porch lights in the back.  Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.  We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.  Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.  We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.  We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.  Oh well, put it on the list!  It will get done eventually!


Proposed Bus Station: Bolton and Florence Avenue

In the Town Talk today, there is an article noting that plans for the proposed Bolton Avenue/Florence Avenue bus transfer station are on track.  Ms. Cook and I attended the council meeting, last year, where an item on the agenda was to approve the city’s purchase of the property for possible development of a bus transfer station.  In that meeting, Ms. Cook very forcibly objected to anything that would negatively affect this area of town.  The Cooks and I are both homeowners on Florence Avenue and the idea of a rowdy bus station, with who knows what drifting in and out at all hours, was a little unsettling.  However, we met with Kay Michiels, and she assured that the city was only looking to improve the area and not further blight it.  We further lodged our concerns about another ugly ill built government building that would fall apart within 20-30 years and detract from some of the historical aspects of the area.  Again, we were assured that anything done would be “historically sensitive” and that city already had plans to apply for “beautification” grants that would not only fund signage and plantings down Bolton Avenue, but would also fund plantings so many feet down Monroe Street.  We were both told that we would be put on the an advisory committee and give ideas and suggestions regarding the architecture, plantings, signage, etc.  Further, as we understand it, this is only going to be a transfer station where people transfer from one bus to the other, rather than gathering there to catch a bus.  So, this all sounded good to me.

As far as I am concerned, I don’t think anything could hurt Monroe Street in its present state. Especially after one of the most prominent houses on Monroe Street (the Provosty home that was sold to Ratcliff) has been chopped up and moved. Have you been by lately?  Isn’t an empty lot with bricks scattered everywhere and an ugly flimsy piece of [plastic?] shoved up to form a haphazard fence just lovely?  That REALLY improved our street. 

Anyway, I won’t beat a dead horse there.  Hopefully, I will be getting a letter in the mail or a call from the City in the next few months making good on their promise of keeping me and Ms. Cook in the loop regarding the design of the bus station.  I have faith in the city and know that plans for revitalization are at heart of our very progressive City Leaders.  I am also a very proud and vocal supporter of the SPARC plan and what it can do to improve Alexandria.  THUMBS UP Mayor and City staff!

One last thing, I think it interesting that the paper again refers to Florence Avenue as “Mansion Row”.  Many people have casually called Florence Avenue “Mansion Row”, including Myron Lawson and other council members, due to the four large homes located in a row.  Since some of the historic mansions in the area have been torn down, or land sold off during the depression and bungalows built in between, it is rare to have four large homes, built circa 1900, still in a row.  The Historical Association, and me personally, have been advocating for an ordinance to officially make “Mansion Row” a local historic district.  This would bring two good things: 1) Local recognition; 2) the designated area eligible for State Tax credits and other incentives.  As far as I know, it would only take: 1) Passing the ordinance; and 2) a map drawn up of the historic district.  Then, by being recognized as a local historic district, it would make any home/building in that area eligible to apply to the State Tax Credit Program.  I have written Louis Marshall and have spoken with him about it.  I have also spoken with the HPC about it.  To date, it seems that no one has taken an interest in the project.  But, interestingly enough, this street is loosely known as “Mansion Row”.   Let’s make it official!!!!!

If there is anyone wishing to know if they are already in a local historic area or eligible for tax credits, please feel free to contact me.  Or you can click on the link above to read the State Tax Credit program requirements.

WE can do this!