Lee H. Nelson Hall was constructed in 1923 and for 30 years served as a classroom building and gymnasium for female students. (Download the Historic Structure Report.) The Women’s Gymnasium was used until 1970 when a new gymnasium was built. 22 years later, the building’s future became bright again. In 1992, NCPTT moved to Natchitoches and the building was designated its new home. Rehabilitation of the building began in 1997. However, disaster struck in November 1997, when the interior of the building was destroyed by fire. Thanks to the efforts of Natchitoches Fire Department, the exterior was saved.
NCPTT moved into the building in 2001 and it was renamed the Lee H. Nelson Hall. Since its establishment in 1994, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training has used technology to preserve and restore the heritage of America. The Center has awarded over $8 million in grants for research that advance the use of science and technology in historic preservation.
Who was Lee H. Nelson?
Lee Nelson was an extraordinary activist in the preservation movement, not only domestically, but internationally as well. He was a distinguished architect of the National Park Service and was recognized as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He also received the National Park Service’s highest awards, the Meritorious Service Award and the Distinguished Service Award. He was interested both in building diagnostics and in providing good practical hands-on training.
As early as 1962, Lee thought it was vital for the government to create a center focused on historic building technology and research. Lee understood and endorsed the need for technology to be used as a tool in a preservation context and worked for many years to help establish a center for this purpose. With all the effort that Lee Nelson put in to establishing NCPTT, it is only suitable that the building that house the Center be named in his honor.