SLIDELL, LA — Saint Tammany Parish President Pat Brister accepted a $12,000 check from the group Friends of Camp Salmen Nature Park. The check presentation was Friday afternoon, Sept. 8, by the historic Salmen Lodge.
The lodge dates back to the early 1800s. It was a trading post on the bayou that allowed boats to ferry goods to and from Bayou Saint John in New Orleans. In the 1900s, the Boy Scouts of America used the building. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
But now it’s in need of a complete renovation. The donated money helps cover the cost of the $20,000 roof that was completed last month on the building. Restoring the entire building could cost nearly half a million dollars.
Members of the group that made the donation say that restoring the building could require it be completely disassembled. They say the building’s brick were probably made on site using clay in the area. The building also has a “newer” addition made of wood which dates back to around the time of the Civil War.
Saint Tammany Parish owns the lodge, but the parish is also tightening its belt to deal with tougher financial times. Recently voted opted not to renew two taxes in the parish. Brister says another renewal is on the ballot next spring. She says that the taxes in question were used to fund specific programs and causes in the parish, and because voters decide against renewing them, the money for those expenditures must now come from the general fund. Which means there’s less money for projects like restoring the lodge.
The people who wish to restore the lodge say they’re in the early stages of planning a fundraiser to begin to collect more money for the restoration.