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Continual Improvement for the French House

Ogden Honors College Celebrates 20 Years in the French House

The Ogden Honors College recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of its location in the French House on the LSU campus.

Originally built in 1935 as a French language and cultural immersion dorm that would "help keep French culture in Louisiana alive,” the French House has played host to many fascinating figures, from Parisian scientists to World War II Army officers, and has been a home for a wide variety of students, academic departments, and historic artifacts. An extensive and interesting timeline of the French House details its history. Twenty years ago, at a ceremony in honor of Armistice Day, the French House was re-dedicated as the home of the Honors College in a ceremony on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1999.

During its 20-year tenure in the building, the Ogden Honors College has modernized and improved the French House. In 2015, the French House underwent a $5 million interior renovation that modernized and expanded existing Honors College classrooms, offices, and study and meeting spaces. Featuring updated classrooms customized for Honors seminar education and updated with instructional technology, a student support hall, a study lounge and the refurbished Hans and Donna Sternberg Salon, the French House serves as a space for Honors students to immerse themselves in the academic and cultural experience of an Ogden education. 

On any given day while walking through the French House, you’ll see the updated classrooms filled with students as they discuss art produced during the French Revolution or the critical role that plankton play in sustaining life in the ocean. If the Hans and Donna Sternberg Salon isn’t being used as the venue for a faculty member or guest lecture, it’s not uncommon to hear music wafting up the signature spiral staircase from the Bechstein grand piano during a concert performance in the Salon. Also on the first floor in the student lounge, you’ll see students studying, drinking coffee, and discussing class assignments while the OHC Council and Project 225 paint pumpkins or the Honors Advocates make gingerbread houses around the holidays.

“When the Honors College moved to the French House, it became a campus, and the vision of a campus within a campus became a reality,” said Ogden Honors College Associate Dean Ann Holmes,who has been associate dean for 20 years and a faculty member for over 30.

Continuing its own 52-year history in Honors education, the Ogden Honors College plans to further that account of excellence at the French House with ongoing improvements to the 10.5-acre Honors Campus. These plans include transforming the Honors campus with a sculpture garden and outdoor classroom space as well as better integrating the surroundings of the French House with the Laville Honors House residence Hall. In addition, the Hans and Donna Sternberg Salon will feature the addition of two new outdoor terraces on the east and west sides of the French House, allowing for more outdoor-study and meeting environments. A newly realized south entrance with improved ADA accommodations, a new campus identification installation, and a revitalized Highland Lawn will complete the exterior transformation.

The Ogden Honors College community thrives in an environment that combines historic architecture, cultural significance, and modern renovation. The goal of the campus within a campus model is to encourage students to develop their intellectual curiosity and leadership skills, and to forge social and intellectual connections with each other, with LSU faculty, and with Honors staff.

“The French House and the atmosphere here has played a significant role in my success as an Ogden Honors student,” said Sophia Brazda, OHC sophomore and theatre performance major. “I lived in Laville my first year, and the proximity to the French House made for a convenient and quick walk to class. Being a member of the vibrant Ogden Honors community has contributed to not only my intellectual growth, but I’ve also grown outside of the classroom. I’ve had the opportunity to attend guest lectures, study in the Student Lounge, meet with my advisor, and discuss ethics and morality within societal structures (in HNRS 2000) all within this beautiful, historic building.”

Tours of the French House are offered at 2:30 p.m. during the week for prospective students and their families. To schedule a tour, visit www.honors.lsu.edu/admissions/visit/schedule-a-visit

If you are interested in being a part of the reimagining and expansion of the French House and the Ogden Honors Campus, contact Ogden Honors College Director of Development Miles Garrett at mgarrett@lsufoundation.org