The National Center recognizes that preservation is very much a community affair. As such, it makes a conscious effort to reach out and share its staff and expertise with local residents.
It’s never too early to start thinking about a career in conservation science! In April 2011, NCPTT offered its second annual “Conservation Scientist for a Day” event, teaching local students about the intersection between science and culture. During this half-day hands-on event, forty-five sophomores from the Avoyelles Public Charter School learned about production of low and high -fired pottery and documented Native American and French Colonial pottery fragments. The students were also given a chance to perform diagnostic tests on the objects, including microscopy, chemical spot tests, and portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy.
In August 2011, the National Center’s Curtis Desselles taught Natchitoches area students about robots during a five-day camp held at Lee H. Nelson Hall. Nineteen students from grades K-12 learned about robotics research, electronics, and computer programming as they designed and built small robots of their own. This event was held in partnership with the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts; Northwestern State University of Louisiana; Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce; and Weyerhauser.
The American South is a treasure trove of African American history and culture, and the National Center is proud to support the work of local preservation advocate and NCPTT Summer Institute alum, Donna Isaacs in bringing this legacy to light. This past summer, NCPTT partnered with the Natchitoches Parish African American Cultural Heritage Initiative (NPAACHI) to survey African American heritage resources in Natchitoches and Natchez, Louisiana. This project was coordinated by Isaacs who supervised interns sponsored by the National Center through an NPS youth programs award. Teams spent the summer researching and documenting historic resources in the area, with the goal of submitting nominations to the National Register of Historic Places to create a new African American historic district.
NCPTT is happy to help when members of the public call with their preservation conundrums. Over the past year, the National Center helped out at two local sites in need of a little preservation TLC. NCPTT staff Andrew Ferrell and Ed FitzGerald responded to a call from the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches regarding some cracks appearing in the masonry walls of Lemee House, a circa 1837 Creole cottage. The two assessed the situation, found minor structural settling to be the likely cause, and installed crack monitors to track future movement.
NCPTT staff were called in to inspect another local icon, Roque House. The bousillage building, owned by the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, was originally constructed by a freed slave in 1803 on a farmstead twenty-two miles south of its present location in the City of Natchitoches. Staff assessed serious structural issues with the building and produced a report of their findings. With NCPTT’s expert guidance, the Foundation was able to make appropriate repairs and avert risks to public health and safety.