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Calcasieu Historical Preservation Society

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Refurbished LC grocery warehouse to start new life

The Cash Grocery and Sales Co. Warehouse at 801 Enterprise Blvd. has been fully restored and is ready to begin a new life as a multipurpose building.

The Calcasieu Historic Preservation Society will hold its annual meeting there at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, and will give a tour of the building, elect officers, present Landmark Awards and celebrate local preservation successes.

Cash & Carry will be one of several structures to receive the society’s Landmark Award.The building was recognized last year with a Special Honor Award from the Louisiana Trust for Historical Preservation.

Oliver G. “Rick” Richard, the current owner, said he wanted to preserve its original condition as a 1930s warehouse, a precursor to modern warehouse retail outlets. He also wanted to adapt it to a productive use to help reinvigorate a once-thriving business district on Enterprise Boulevard that extended from Broad Street to Interstate 10.

Richard foresees the building as a community meeting place and a farmer’s market. “I am very interested in using my building as an early example of its unique structure with natural ceiling clerestroy lighting. Since all of the earlier-style buildings on this corridor have been torn down, I’d like to showcase my favorite Historic Preservation Society slogan of the 1980s, ‘It takes energy to construct a new building. It saves energy to preserve an old building,’” he said.

Clerestory lighting is an architectural term for providing natural lighting to the inner space of a large building. In medieval times, clerestory lighting was used in such buildings as Roman basilicas or the naves of Romanesque or Gothic churches.

The Cash Grocery and Sales property was separated from the public domain by the first owner, James B. Kirkman, on July 27, 1869, according to A.C. Bourdier of the Calcasieu Historic Preservation Society. His research showed it has been owned by two other individuals and several railroads before Cash Carry and Sales received a surface lease from the Missouri Pacific Railroad on Dec. 1, 1936. The property was previously the site of a cotton gin, seed warehouse and other supporting structures.

The present building was designed in 1936 by Dunn and Quinn, Architects and Engineers. The original cost of the building was $16,681.63. It was built for V.J. Kurzweg of Cash Grocery and Sales Co. of Consolidated Companies Inc. of Plaquemine, Bourdier said. It opened in 1937 and supplied bulk supplies to mom-and-pop grocery stores, bakeries, drug stores and package liquor stores for several decades. Another of the customers was the Calcasieu Parish School Board.

In 1992, the building was listed among the 11 mostendangered sites by the Calcasieu Historical Preservation Society. In addition, it was one of the buildings featured in a program sponsored by a grant from the National Park Service and the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development for fifth-graders called “Vanishing History” that studied its architectural detail.

The Calcasieu Parish Historical Preservation Society was formed to preserve and encourage preservation of historic buildings, objects and places relating to the history of Louisiana and Calcasieu Parish. For information about the society, call 497-1414. For information about the building, go to www.empireoftheseed.com.