Seven months ago, when the massive re-do of Highway 171 N. left local motorists dizzy, many detoured through downtown Leesville. Little did they know that major changes were coming to buildings and storefronts from one end of Third Street to the other.
The Leesville Main Street Program is alive and vibrant in their support of all things downtown. Under the leadership of Ms. Tammy Anderson, the Main Street Board of LaFonda Stelly, Wendy Kreps, Reginald Seastrunk, Jim Sonnier, Cindy Grant, Linda Thomas and Grant Bush have worked tirelessly to help shape the look of downtown Leesville.
Ms. Anderson pointed out lower Third Street and the complete make-over of the Museum of West Louisiana. The Vernon Office of Tourism, under the direction of John Crook, and the Vernon Parish Police Jury have nearly completed the work. Grand Opening plans will be announced soon. The new look will capture the history of Vernon Parish for tourists and future Vernon school children.
Many of the buildings downtown, public and private, are currently undergoing facelifts inside and out. Christie Smith and Dr. Christina Lord continue to work with the Louisiana Trust of Historic Preservation as they improve the old Vernon Bank building according to Historic Preservation guidelines. Work on the exterior of the Phoenix Drugstore building at the north end of downtown is nearly complete. Cindy and Stephen Jeane will begin work on the interior this fall.
The most recent news to benefit downtown was the awarding of a grant to Ms. Lafonda Stelly for work on the exterior of the Eissman Building/National Hotel. The grant of $55,000 was awarded through the Louisiana Lieutenant Governor’s office from the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Program. Stelly has retail plans for the first floor and potential office space or lodgings on the second and third floors. Work has started on the exterior.
Just as soon as the legendary Imperial Hardware location near the Post Office closed this summer, young entrepreneurs Clint and Alli Goins quickly bought the property and began the remodeling. Their vision is a unique modern hair salon and spa on one side with a clothing boutique on the other.
New businesses are opening, the Farmers Market is thriving, and families are attending events downtown. Next time you roll through, keep those eyes open and take a look!