Architecture Professor Receives more than $75,000 in grants to investigate ruins of 19th century Louisiana Fort

Associate Professor Ursula Emery McClure recently received two grants for the upcoming academic year to investigate the ruins of Fort Proctor, a 19th century fort in St. Bernard Parish that has been engulfed by Lake Borgne. Fort Proctor, located on the shore of Lake Borgne, was built in the 1850s and intended to protect water routes towards New Orleans. The fort, however, became hurricane damaged and was deemed obsolete after post-Civil War improvements in artillery. The fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is now completely surrounded by water.

The State of Louisiana’s Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism issued McClure the first grant of $56,340 from the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund. The grant arises from the Division of Historic Preservation’s mission to create a record of unique and irreplaceable landscapes, sites, and structures in Louisiana, either listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

McClure will document Fort Proctor with drawings and photographs for the Historic American Building Survey National Archives, documentation which will showcase its architectural significance to military fortifications, its historical significance to coastal fortifications, and its perilous condition within the coastal ecosystem of Louisiana. If the present predictions regarding coastal land loss and global climate change hold true, Fort Proctor is at risk of being further damaged or completely destroyed. This documentation will create a permanent archive of the structure and would contribute to the legacy and record of Louisiana’s coastal built environment and the United States’ system of coastal defense fortifications. The work will be completed with students in the LSU School of Architecture.

The second grant, totaling $20,520, given by the Coastal Sustainability Studio, is an interdisciplinary investigation between faculty in the School of Architecture (Ursula Emery McClure), School of Landscape Architecture (Brad Cantrell), and the College of Civil & Environmental Engineering (Michele Barbato). This grant will use Fort Proctor as a case study to investigate the reoccupation of proposed reconstructed landscapes and the parameters for preservation (building, environment, landscape, and infrastructure). A fundamental component of the second grant is that three graduate assistants representing each discipline will work collaboratively on the project within the Coastal Sustainability Studio.