Arnaudville French Immersion Center gets green light

The Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation has announced the completion of a business plan for a French Immersion Center in Arnaudville. The plan will repurpose the old St. Luke’s Hospital building that closed its doors in 1990 to serve as the main site of the new French Immersion Center, which will be the only center of its kind in the United States.

The business plan is the first step in the Cultural Master Plan for the region, which was facilitated by the LCEF with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and contributions from St. Landry and St. Martin Parish Governments.

"The National Endowment for the Arts has long-recognized the cultural vitality that exists in rural areas like Arnaudville and we are eager to see the continued development of this project. Not only will the French Immersion Center have a positive economic impact on the area, but it will also be a cultural asset unlike any other in the US," says NEA Director of Design Programs Jason Schupbach in a release announcing the plan’s completion.

The six-year process of converting the old St. Luke’s Hospital has been a point of contention for both St. Martin and St. Landry Parishes concerning the First Service Hospital District of St. Martin and St. Landry parishes, a board created in the 1960s to oversee the St. Luke's facility, which was pushing to have a behavioral health company set up shop in the facility. After overwhelming local support for the French Immersion Center, the board was dissolved by the St. Martin Parish Council.

The vision, as stated in the plan, is for the Louisiana French immersion campus in Arnaudville to be the premier destination in the U.S. for French language immersion and cultural enrichment among the people, environment and customs that define the heritage of the Acadiana region in Louisiana. In an intimate setting, students, educators, business persons, visitors, and others will learn and speak the French language indigenous to the area through coursework and creative programming, while connecting with the people and environment.

Click here to read more about the six-year long fight over St. Luke's.