On November 7, nearly 200 guests and dignitaries gathered on the south lawn of Lee Nelson Hall, in Natchitoches, Louisiana, for the building’s formal dedication. Nelson Hall became home to NCPTT in June 2001 after a multimillion dollar renovation.
Named for a pioneering preservation architect in the National Park Service, the structure is the oldest building on Northwestern State University’s campus and formerly served as the Women’s Gymnasium.
Laura Soulliere, superintendent of the nearby Cane River Creole NHP, served as the event’s emcee. Joining Soulliere in the ceremony were Rev. John Karle, Christ the King Lutheran Church; Randall Webb, NSU President; Katherine Stevenson, NPS associate director for cultural resources stewardship and partnerships; Robert Collins, Louisiana deputy state historic preservation officer; Wayne McCullen, Natchitoches mayor; Neville Agnew, PTT board chair; Robert Melnick, dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at University of Oregon; Chief Rufus Davis, Caddo-Adai Tribe; and Lois Nelson, wife of the late Lee Nelson.
While Robert Melnick’s keynote address dealt with Nelson’s life work in the field of preservation, others remembered him as a friend, and colleague. All agreed that Nelson would have been proud to know that his longstanding idea for a national center devoted to preservation technology had finally come to fruition in a historic building.
After the formal ribbon cutting, dedication participants were invited to attend several tours highlighting the rehabilitation of Lee Nelson Hall and the work of NCPTT. Wayne Coco, AIA, project architect for the rehabilitation of Lee Nelson Hall, presented a slide presentation on the building project. Mary Carroll, NCPTT information management director, demonstrated the Clearinghouse portion of the NCPTT website. Mary Striegel, NCPTT materials research director, made a presentation on microscopy in one of NCPTT’s labs while ElizaBeth Bede, NCPTT Dupont fellow, demonstrated the environmental chamber in another lab. The final presentation was a laser cleaning demonstration by Meg Abraham of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Events began on November 6, 2001 with a cocktail buffet at Nelson Hall. After the buffet guests were treated with a concert gala celebrating America sponsored by NSU’s Creative and Performing Arts Department.
Kevin Ammons is program analyst for NCPTT.