Alto Presbyterian Church in Alto (Richland Parish) was recently added to Louisiana's Most Endangered Places list, according to the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation.
Since 1999, the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation has identified these endangered historic places to advocate for their preservation and protection. More than 140 sites have been nominated to date – 19 have been lost, 38 have been rehabilitated, the rest remain actively threatened, including this year’s 11 new sites.
“Historic buildings and sites are the fingerprints of our communities and it takes creative measures to preserve and protect them for future generations,” said Brian Davis, Executive Director of the Louisiana Trust. “Strategic partnerships, tax credits and programs like LTHP’s revolving fund can save buildings many people may consider too far gone.”
The Alto Presbyterian Church was founded in 1872 and opened this sanctuary the following year. This vernacular frame building was constructed with local cypress. The front porch and additional Sunday School rooms were added during the “gas boom” of the 1920s and 1930s. Legend has it that the steeple’s brass bell is from the very last steamboat that traversed the Boeuf River. Inquiries for weddings and events continue to come in, but the church must decline due to the severe structural damage.
Currently, the church only holds service once a quarter. The congregation is working to repair and raise the foundation, improve drainage, rewire for updated safety and efficiency, and make the building a water-tight place to gather again.
The Church has received a $20,000 grant from the D. Thomason Fund of the First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport and continues other fundraising efforts to complete the necessary renovations.
Listing these places acknowledges their importance to the local community but also our statewide identity and economy. The list is generated from nominations made by the public and aims to attract creative approaches and resources to see the sites saved and rehabilitated for future generations.