The Roy House on ULL’s campus will soon be home to a new Center of Louisiana Studies, all thanks to a global philanthropist helping the “Restore the Roy” campaign reach its fundraising goal, The Advocate reports.
If you’ve traveled in the downtown area of Lafayette, Louisiana, and you’ve passed by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, chances are you’ve seen the famed Roy House, along with signage of the school’s efforts to “Restore the Roy” as well. Located on the corner of University Avenue and Johnston Street, the 120 year-old is now due for its first modern renovation, having been in ULL’s possession since the 1990s.
Enthusiasts for the historic former home of J. Arthur Roy, an early Lafayette business leader and stalwart of the community, had reached and surpassed their goal of raising $800,000 in funds to restore the two-story, 5,000 square foot building. The restoration effort had only raised the much-needed $400,000 in the last few weeks, which included a donation from a foundation based in Washington State.
It’s estimated that the restoration will be completed by 2022, and once complete, “The Roy” will house the Center for Louisiana Studies. The University Center was founded in 1973, and it is dedicated to researching, promoting, publicizing, and overall preserving the culture and storied history of Louisiana.
For any Lafayette visitors traveling to the city from Interstate 10, the Roy House provides a substantial first glimpse at the campus, and director of the center, Joshua C. Caffery believes that the newly renovated building will provide an attractive welcome to such visitors, saying, “The renovation of the Roy House and its lot will transform one of Lafayette’s busiest intersections and contribute to the citywide effort to beautify the University corridor.”
Simply put, that “busiest intersection” isn’t hyperbole; it’s pure fact, as the state Department of Transportation and Development reports that the estimated average daily traffic count for the specific intersection that the Roy House has stood on since 1901, the same year that ULL’s campus first opened to students, is 43,730 vehicles.
The Center for Louisiana Studies is made up of three divisions: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, theResearch Division and the Programming and Special Projects Division, including the Archive of Cajun and Creole Folklore, heralded by the campus as being the “largest collection of audiovisual materials related to the traditional cultures of southwestern Louisiana.”
Caffery said that most of the restoration money was raised throughout the year through grants and private donation, conclusion with the $400,000 amount from the Sage Foundation, and its President and Treasurer, E.W. Littlefield Jr, a philanthropist who is long-involved in the music industry as both a musician and supporter of marts and music efforts.
Caffery noted, “The interest we received from out of state is a testament to the fact that Acadiana culture continues to be of significant national and even international interest. Our goal is to launch a major interior restoration by spring, hopefully by mid-April or early May,”
The next steps, according to Caffery, are to assemble a restoration team, including architects and contractors and to secure the appropriate permits and approvals. The Roy is the only building on ULL’s campus that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, so it must meet specific guidelines for its restoration.
Caffery stated, “despite the turmoil of 2020, we’ve received an outpouring of support this year, both from people who love the Roy House and value its architectural and historical significance, as well as from people who support the mission of the Center for Louisiana Studies.”
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