By T. Scott Boatright
Camp Ruston POW buildings in Grambling have been announced as one of 11 projects announced by the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation to be put on a list of 2021 Louisiana Most Endangered Places.
Louisiana is known for its rich history and cultural diversity and its historic sites represent the past.
But often those sites become neglected, abandoned, or ultimately demolished. The Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation (LTHP) works statewide to help identify and advocate for Louisiana’s historic places.
The LTHP encourages creative approaches and valuable tools such as the National Register of Historic Places or state and federal tax credits to help save these endangered places.
Camp Ruston came into being when local farmland was acquired by the federal government to establish this internment camp for WWII Prisoners of War.
It was activated on Christmas Day 1942 and reached its peak population in October 1943 with 4,315 prisoners.
The site went on to become a tuberculosis hospital and was later turned over to Grambling State University. The LTHP said that the remaining Camp Ruston buildings surviving today are in poor condition and may need to be moved to be restored.
“Getting a property added to the Louisiana’s Most Endangered Places List can be a useful tool in the effort to save an important part of a community’s history,” said LTHP Executive Director Brian Davis.
“It reinforces the significance of the site and the urgency for action, when applying for a grant or garnering support from the local community. It also increases the commitment of the Louisiana Trust and its resources in seeing a positive outcome for the site.”
The other 10 sites added to the list of 2021 Louisiana Most Endangered Places are:
• Mary & J.W. Thomas House (Natchitoches Parish)
• Buena Vista & Acadia Plantation Cemeteries (St. James Parish)
• Columbia Free Methodist Church (Caldwell Parish)
• Frank Young House (St. Mary Parish)
• Franklin Lodge No. 57 (Franklin Parish)
• Gueydan Museum (Vermillion Parish)
• Holy Cross School (Orleans Parish)
• Husser School (Tangipahoa Parish)
• Kerner House (Jefferson Parish)
• St. Mary’s Chapel (St. James Parish)
The LTHP said that selections to Louisiana’s Most Endangered Places List are based on their historic significance; the critical nature of their threat; and the likelihood to bring about a positive resolution to their situation or to those of similar sites.