Built in 1929, the D’Agostino Building in downtown Port Allen is being saved from demolition by Sun Plus Inc.’s Rawlston Phillips, who says the key to the old iconic building is having it placed on the National Register of Historic Place.
“The City of Port Allen wanted something to happen to it,” Phillips said. “They were just tired of the abandoned building and felt like something needs to happen.”
A longtime resident of Port Allen and a history buff, Phillips said he couldn’t bear to see the building demolished, which seemed to be its destiny.
“If I don’t buy this building, then basically it going to be bulldozed,” he said, which is the most economical end for the D’Agostino Building.
“…There are much better uses for the money and much quicker returns on investment,” Phillips continued.
Destroying the building was unacceptable to the local businessman who said one of the most interesting things he’s found out about the D’Agostino is that while it was completed in 1929, it was moved just two years later when the modern levee was built.
“It was built on the banks of the Mississippi River and in 1931 it was moved from there about seven blocks to where it stands now,” Phillips said, quite a feat for a two-story, 9,000-square-foot building 90 years ago.
That piece of trivia brought the building’s new owner to an important facet of his plan—uncovering as much history about the building as possible. Because of that, Phillips is asking for assistance from the public.
“Our number one goal is to find out the history of the building,” he said. “We’re reaching out to everyone in the community to try to complete a history of the building.”
“We’re asking anybody and everybody for any information they may have, anything they might know about the building,” Phillips continued.
He told members of the Port Allen City Council at their meeting last week he is receiving help from the West Baton Rouge Museum and The West Side Journal in his quest for the building’s historical background.
“We do know at one time it was called the Magnolia Hotel but finding out any details even about that is like finding a ghost in the fog,” Phillips said.
Phillips said saving the historic building is so far an act of love and an attempt at historic preservation.
“There is no immediate demand for the space in the building,” he said. “I just didn’t want to see it go to the ground because it’s one of Port Allen’s longest standing structures.”