STATEMENT ON LEBEAU PLANTATION FIRE
Tragedy struck Friday morning when the historic LeBeau Plantation was set ablaze by illegal trespassers. We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our community’s most beloved treasures.
Arlene Meraux established the Foundation after the passing of Joseph Meraux to improve the quality of life in St. Bernard. Today, as a private family foundation, we are implementing a dynamic strategy to create lasting improvements to various aspects of the community – including education, culture and recreation, quality of life, property values, and historic preservation.
The LeBeau Plantation was one of our most cherished assets. Over the years we have wrestled with determining the best use for the plantation. We reviewed dozens of proposals, but none presented a financially viable option that would serve the community.
One of our duties as board members is to prioritize our actions in response to community needs. Given the millions of dollars required to restore the plantation, prudence dictated that we preserve the plantation while we worked to identify the best path forward. The Foundation hired an architect who specializes in historic buildings and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on structural improvements and routine maintenance. We made our best efforts to secure the land from trespassers. We installed an eight foot fence around the property and posted signs. But it is doubtful that anything short of 24 hour patrols would have kept out these intruders intent on engaging in illegal activities.
We have always recognized the plantation’s cultural significance and celebrated its past by opening the grounds to host the Old Arabi Neighborhood Association’s Annual Sugar Festival. Now we are working to pick up the pieces, and we thank the outpouring of support that we have received from our friends and neighbors in Arabi and throughout St. Bernard.
– The Meraux Family Foundation
We are devastated by the news that the LeBeau Plantation caught fire last night. We are working with the St. Bernard Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office to determine the cause of the fire.
In recent years, we made significant investments into restoring the building’s structure, and we have been considering plans for fully restoring the historic plantation. Needless to say, we are deeply saddened by last night’s fire.
As we learn more, we will provide updates here on our website.