- Associated Press - Saturday, July 23, 2016

LECOMPTE, La. (AP) - Chickama, a 103-year-old home near Lecompte, has joined the National Register of Historic Places, and owner Sara Fuhrer couldn’t be happier.

She sought the national recognition for her home as “a gift” to close friends who owned the house when she was growing up as well as to add stature to it that could boost her bed-and-breakfast operation.

“I’m as pleased as I can be,” Fuhrer said. “I’m looking forward to ordering the bronze plaque for the house. I’m just so happy that it’s going to raise the profile for the place.”

The home is located at 687 Chickamaw Road near Lecompte, but the home’s name has no “w” on the end. Chickama is an Indian word for “good land.”

Fuhrer had said getting the home on the National Register would be a tribute to members of the Gaiennie family. While growing up in Alexandria, she often visited the house to see the Gaiennies, including spending the night sometimes.

When Fuhrer received the certificate showing the house had been added to the National Register, she sent a copy to Anne Gaiennie, who said she would buy the plaque showing the designation.

She said Anne and other members of the Gaiennie family “are thrilled” that the house has received the honor.

Fuhrer, who is an artist, said she has been contacted by arts organizations that want to hold events in the house “that has that little edge” of being on the National Register.

Paul Smith, of Historic Preservation Consulting in Alexandria, handled the research and paperwork to get Chickama added to the National Register.

“This could have never come about without his hard work and dedication,” Fuhrer said of Smith.

Chickama earned National Register recognition in the architectural category. The house is a prime example of Transitional Colonial Revival/Vernacular Farmhouse, according to Smith.

Smith said there is a sense of satisfaction in helping Chickama achieve National Register status.

“For me, it feels great,” said Smith, who has gotten a few other structures added to the National Register in the past couple of years and is working on others.

“It’s great to bring that kind of national recognition to local historic resources,” he said.

When Fuhrer explained to The Town Talk in April how she wanted the home on the National Register as a tribute to the Gaiennie family, Smith said, he realized “how personal” it was to her.

The main benefit of getting Chickama added to National Register is the prestige, Smith said.

“In addition, there’s some protection and some incentive for future development if it were a commercial property,” such as federal tax credits.

“As far as deterrents go, it could never be demolished using federal funds as a result of being listed on the National Register,” Smith said.

Smith was the preservationist who got Huey P. Long Memorial Hospital in Pineville and the Main Library of the Rapides Parish Library system added to the National Register. As was the case with those, his research on Chickama uncovered history that captivated him.

“Every project is different. In fact, I’m becoming more of a research rat and sort of looking forward to seeing which turns the next project will take me on,” Smith said.

“But every one ends up taking me in a direction I hadn’t anticipated, and, in its own way, leads to things that are fascinating to me.”

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com

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