Oct. 8, 2013 07:34

City-Parish President Joey Durel so wanted to save the white house on the Horse Farm property, but it's just not in the cards.

City-Parish President Joey Durel has long hoped to save the white wooden home on the Horse Farm property, going back to when he initially asked then UL President Ray Authement for a first right of refusal on the pristine acreage in mid-2006.

Photo by Robin May

City-Parish President Joey Durel says despite his best effort the one remaining residential structure  on the Horse Farm property could not be saved. Free demolition will begin Monday, Oct. 14, under the direction of the local sheriff. Durel hopes to repurpose much of the home's materials by using them for a new building at the site.

Six years later Durel found a willing selling partner in current UL President Joe Savoie and finally got the deal done when the city secured the property. A year later, reality has set in.

After hearing that at least one architect and engineer had evaluated the structure, which is easily visible from Johnston Street, and come to the conclusion that it could not be salvaged economically, Durel says he wanted more information. He asked for an opinion from the Acadian Home Builders, hoping the organization might take salvaging it on as project, but those hopes were also quickly dashed.

"They determined that it would cost more to save it than it would cost to build something that would function better. They concluded that it was not worth saving from a practical standpoint," Durel tells The IND. "Disappointed, I wanted to be certain before I made any decision, so I asked the historical society to research the house. Their answer was that it had no historical significance."

After concluding that the current liability (the structure is in very poor condition) would be a future expense, Durel says he put all options on the table.

"I heard from people that said they would move it," he says. "Being government owned, we had to advertise for bidders. All we got were two that only wanted to tear it down, ranging in cost to us from $8,000-$16,000. ... There were no [formal] offers to move the house."

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Department had proposed razing the structure at no cost, so paying someone to demolish it would not have been prudent, Durel explains.

By this time it was clear the little house - which at times was home to students studying renewable resources at UL, students like Save the Horse Farm's Danica Adams, who as a female student had to raise a stink to live in it - had to go. (If anyone knows the history of the house, we'd like to hear it. Email me at lesliet@theind.com.)

Adams did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment for this story.

Durel says parish inmates will begin tearing the house down Monday, Oct. 14. "They will save all wood, windows, doors, tin, etc., that is worth saving. Hopefully it can be used on a future building," he says. "I have even had a friend offer to turn the doors into headboards for beds that can be auctioned at future fundraising events for the Horse Farm."

Nice, Joey.