There are many different types of preservationists out there, all contributing to the greater cause towards a community’s historic preservation. But two of the most important types of preservationists are those unique individuals who have the “big picture” on what preservation is all about, and those individuals who can obtain the necessary financing for important community historic projects. Mike Tudor, in these unique dual roles, is one of the most important individuals in the honorable avocation of historic preservation of Cenla.
In his youth, Mike developed a love and appreciation of community and family history, nurtured by his parents and grandparents. His father, a second generation builder, helped create the original Tudor & Ratcliff Construction Company. In fact, Mike’s paternal grandfather built the famed 1936 extension to the Hotel Bentley. Mike’s father was a “people person” and his mother was well-read and highly educated, both contributing to Mike’s future love of history and his respect for his community. A graduate of Pineville High, Duke University and LSU (where he obtained his law degree), Mike came back to Cenla to work with his father and brother as an attorney for their construction company.
History and preservation were always in the forefront of his mind. Even at a young age, Elaine Brister, author of the definitive history of Pineville, asked Mike to read her books’ galley proofs for possible corrections. This and other projects lead Mike to becoming a member of the first historical marker committee in Alexandria. Due to Mike’s and other committee members’ work, Rapides Parish now has more historical markers than any other parish in the state. Mike is especially proud of his contribution to the creation of the state’s greatest holocaust monument in downtown Alexandria, an idea he originated while walking in New Orleans with Rabbi Arnold Task. Mike says he still gets choked up thinking about this monument and its important community legacy.
Mike’s next big project was the restoration of Forts Randolph and Buhlow in Pineville. Randolph was in fairly good condition as it was located on state hospital grounds and unavailable to the public, but Buhlow had been ground down due to public usage. Along with Oberia Price, Peggy Bolton, and others, the forts were mostly restored and made usable as an important tourist attraction in the early 1990s.
Mike has been involved with so many projects over the years: creating the first walking tour in downtown Alexandria as well as creating historical markers at the Bolton house, Hotel Bentley, the Louisiana Maneuvers, “4 governors from Rapides parish”, and two more on the history of Alexandria. His latest marker honors General William Tecumseh Sherman’s stay in Cenla as the 1st President of what would become LSU, to be unveiled this fall. Mike is now in the early stages of leading the effort at creating a historical marker regarding General George Custers’ historic visit in Alexandria shortly after the Civil War.
Mike is also especially proud of the contributions to the community of his wife, Susan, and his sons, Jason and Chris. We, too, can all be proud that men like Mike Tudor are leaders of both community unity and historic preservation in Cenla!