Winnie Byrd – … a person of character

CONSIDERING, this lifelong Baton Rouge resident, with a degree in history and a respect for the community’s heritage, has championed for decades the need to conserve the architectural integrity of our city. “I’m proud to call myself a preservationist.”

CONSIDERING, she started her volunteer journey in the Junior League and was highly involved when the group founded and launched what is now the Louisiana Art & Science Museum and the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation. Both organizations have been in place for 50 years.

CONSIDERING, she was an early member of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, a group that promotes the preservation of the cultural and architectural heritage of Baton Rouge as well as the state. One of the first projects this group pursued was saving Magnolia Mound on Nicholson Drive from demolition.

CONSIDERING, she became actively involved in the National Trust for Historic Preservation and continues to serve as adviser emeritus to this day. For nine years, she was an active adviser and traveled throughout the country to meet with others in different regions. “Sharing ideas on preservation is so important. This was a great way to learn what worked for others.”

CONSIDERING, from her national role, she helped launch the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation and served twice as its president. “Every community has its precious things that it likes to preserve. A sense of place is so important.”

CONSIDERING, she doesn’t back down from a challenge. In addition to defending Magnolia Mound, she was integral in the preservation of the Old State Capitol, which was threatened with demolition after years of neglect. “The little old ladies of Baton Rouge stood up for it. Even the fence that surrounds it has been threatened.”

CONSIDERING, she has been married to Millard for 64 years. Their son Richard and daughter-in-law Lori have three children.

CONSIDERING, she was on the house corporation for Delta Delta Delta when it raised funds to build its sorority house, now overlooking LSU Lake. She served as president of its alumnae group and proudly mentions that her granddaughter also pledged Tri Delt.

CONSIDERING, she is a member of the oldest ongoing book club in Baton Rouge, the Questors, as well as a serious study club, the Philistoria. This group, now in its 106th year, picks a subject to research for the year and writes reports on it.

CONSIDERING, she has a heart for St. Francisville and a passion for gardening. She’s a member of the Feliciana Country Gardeners when she’s not delving into history.

CONSIDERING, at 86, she still has a voice and is an active presence on many local boards. “I’m so fortunate to live in Baton Rouge as long as I have and play a part in its history. I’m blessed to be able to still make a contribution.”

Editor Ashley Sexton Gordon nominates a person of character from the Baton Rouge Community each month.