After years of planning and renovation, the Roy House is nearly open and set to house the Center for Louisiana Studies.
The Roy House, located on the corner of University Avenue and Johnston Street, was originally built in 1901 for J. Arthur Roy. The house remained under ownership of various members of the Roy family until the 1980s when the University of Louisiana at Lafayette bought the property. While under UL Lafayette’s ownership, the house served many purposes, holding various offices and a fraternity over the years.
The Center for Louisiana Studies, currently located in the Edith Garland Dupré Library, will move to the Roy House later in the spring. Dr. Joshua Caffery, the Director of the Center of Louisiana Studies said that about 99.9% of renovations are complete. After acquiring a Certificate of Occupancy, furniture that has been donated will be moved into the house. Shortly after, offices will be established, and the house will have its grand opening.
The Roy House is the oldest building currently a part of UL Lafayette’s campus, and the only building on campus listed in the National Register of Historic Places. J. Arthur Roy, the original owner of the home, played a role in the creation and development of the university in the 20th century.
The first floor of the house will serve two purposes: a space for the UL Press to be housed, and a space for students and patrons to learn and grow.
Half of the first floor will house the UL Press and provide a storefront for published works, as well as a room for presentations and talks. The proposed space will be able to hold almost 50 people and will serve as a venue for events with UL Press and The Center for Louisiana Studies at UL Lafayette.
UL Press currently has approximately 300 books published and publishes an additional 10-15 books each year, which will be available for purchase at a storefront in the house.
The other half of the first floor will serve as a shared space open to the public. There will be work spaces for students and a seating area where students can study or learn more about local history and the university.
Soon, renovations to the backyard will begin. Landscaping and construction of a gazebo are in the works, and students will have access to the backyard after renovations are complete. The gazebo will eventually hold outdoor events for the community and university.
The Center for Louisiana Studies will maintain some of its space in the library for archives and storage, but will move eight staff members to the Roy House.
The path for the Roy House’s opening has spanned almost a decade. Fundraising began shortly after the Restore the Roy initiative began. Restoration began in April 2022 and is expected to be complete soon.
All funding for renovations of the Roy House has come from grants and donations.
Caffery said that the house was in fairly extreme disrepair when renovations began. The upstairs was completely unlivable and much had to be done to update the space.
In the process of restoring the house, the floor plan has not been changed. More intricate repairs, such as the original woodwork and tilework of the home, were restored keeping the original details of the home in mind.
After restoration of the house is complete, the center will be welcoming for all students. Caffery said that the Roy House will be “accessible to every student,” on UL Lafayette’s campus.
Restorations are expected to be completed soon, and the Roy House is expected to open later in the spring.