Arson suspected as possible cause of fire that destroyed the historic C.C. Antoine House
“The recent loss of the C.C. Antoine House is a tragedy for Shreveport,” architect says
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Shreveport fire investigators are investigating arson as possibly the cause of the fire Friday, May 13 that destroyed the historic C. C. Antoine House in Shreveport.
Fire Chief Clarence Reese told KSLA News 12 that investigators suspect “suspicious activity” contributed to the fire.
The Rev. Willie Stewart, of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, said he is frustrated that the C.C. Antoine House site sat vacant for so long prior to the fire. “I thought, at one time, that [city and state leaders] was going to do something with it, because they had said they would. But they didn’t.”
Stewart said he believes the vacancy jeopardized the safety of the community.
“I had to move my Bible study from 7 in the afternoon to 5:30, 6:00 ... because we don’t know who could be in this building.”
Shreveport Councilwoman Tabatha Taylor said she, among others, were already discussing plans for the house just days before the site caught fire. Now she says it’s crucial.
“What we wanted to do was to re-create the home to make sure that we honored the legacy of former (Louisiana) Lt. Gov. C.C. Antoine.”
Taylor said she still plans to re-create it. “We don’t have a choice. ... To not honor him is a disgrace.”
Local architect Christopher Coe, FAIA, sent KSLA News 12 the following statement:
“The recent loss of the C.C. Antoine House is a tragedy for Shreveport, but sadly is not unique to our troubled city. We are losing our historic buildings at an alarming rate, whether by accident, arson or neglect. Shreveport has a deep and rich architectural legacy and each individual building is a physical manifestation of our history and culture. Each loss diminishes us all and we must find a way to rise above our differences and unite to protect the buildings of our collective past.”
The C. C. Antoine House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in August 1999. Caesar Carpentier Antoine found success in the grocery business before serving as a Louisiana state senator (1868-72), lieutenant governor (1872-77) and as acting governor in 1876, according to the sign placed outside the home.
Historian Gary Joiner also sent a statement, saying:
“The loss of the C. C. Antoine House is a tragedy for this city. He was a bright light in the darkest hours of our existence. He introduced the legislation that took us from a town to a city, fathered what we would call a medical corridor, invented wholesale groceries and was honored by all segments of our population. There is little chance that this was an accident and follows the destruction by arson of other historic buildings in African American neighborhoods in Shreveport in recent years.”
According to KSLA News 12 reports, the vacant house next door to the C.C. Antoine House was damaged in a fire in March.
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