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AIA Finalist: Lakeport Plantation Restoration

2 min read

PROJECT: Lakeport Plantation Restoration
FIRM: Witsell Evans Rasco, P.A.
CONTRACTOR: Jim Wood Co., Baldwin & Shell Construction Co., ASU
LOCATION: Lake Village

The Lakeport plantation built in 1859 has remained in continuous cotton production since the 1830s. Donated to Arkansas State University in 2001, the university will operate it as a museum and educational center, focusing on preservation and heritage studies.

The restoration has spanned almost 10 years now. The team of professionals worked diligently on all aspects to restore the house to its late 1850s appearance to a remarkable extent.

Mechanical and electrical systems have painfully been concealed to achieve the most authentic rooms possible. In an effort to conceal supply and return grilles, air is supplied through ductwork located in the chimneys and fireplaces hiding it from view. The mechanical equipment is programmable to museum standards and utilizes a geothermal heat pump system that operates at a much lower cost.

One of the many unique things about Lakeport is the fact that so little has been changed over time. The second floor was found with the original rosewood decorative graining on the doors and original painted woodwork. In an effort to tell the story of the house, the team decided to preserve the current condition of the finishes.

The plaster crown molding was replaced with new molding plaster replicating the original profile and installation techniques. Paint colors were matched to the original colors, including marblizing the fireplace mantels and doors. The house is serving its intended purpose and a historic treasure has been saved for generations to enjoy.

Owner/Client: Arkansas State University
Project Team: Charles Witsell, FAIA; John Greer, AIA; Aaron Ruby, AIA; Ruth Hawkins; Claudia Shannon; Becky Witsell; Ronnie Walker
Consultants: Pettit and Pettit, MEP; Landmark Facilities, Restoration MEP; ECI, Structural
Photographer: Dave Anderson, Witsell Evans Rasco, P.A.

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