Twenty three years ago, Ashland-Belle Helene had seen better days. The plantation home, built around 1841, had fallen into major disrepair.

But then, Shell Chemical Company, of all things, decided to buy the house and property, which was near their plant site.

That was then.

Six months ago, they began a project to restore the faded beauty and on Tuesday they revealed the results.

“We’re real excited to share this treasure of Ascension Parish,” plant manager Rhoman Hardy said at a reception for parish and state officials at the plantation home.

The home will be used by Shell employees for meetings and other company functions, and Shell is planning to make the home available to the community, in ways being thought out now.

Shell had purchased the home, then in great disrepair, with about 100 surrounding acres of grounds with moss-draped live oaks to complete the corner, so to speak, of its site at the intersection of River Road and La. 3251.

The purchase agreement called for Shell to maintain the physical structure and outer facade of the home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The chemical company put in floors where there was just bare dirt at that point, and an air conditioning system to stabilize the structure.

But a few years ago, the company began thinking about going beyond that to restore the home’s exterior and interior as well, Hardy said. The company got input from its more than 600 employees and got an overwhelming response to bring the home back, he said.

Bobby Otterstetter, the maintenance manager for Shell Chemical, invited the owner of Houmas House, Kevin Kelly, to give the company some ideas on what it would take to bring the Ashland-Belle Helene back to its former beauty, and from there the project began in earnest this past fall.

Plans for the project were first approved by the state’s Historic Preservation Office, and shortly before Thanksgiving last year, Shell began its work on the home. There’s a new roof, repairs to the porches and railings, and a complete exterior renovation, as well as extensive renovation on the interior. The work included repairing the columns and making the shutters functional once again.

Shell officials would not disclose how much they spent on the upgrade.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who was at Tuesday’s event, said the old plantation home is “a rich part of our history” and had once been “a real hot place for movies” to be made, “even before there were movie tax credits.” One of those movies was 1958’s “The Long, Hot Summer,” starring Paul Newman.

Shell’s consultant on the renovation project was Jim Blanchard, an architectural archivist and artist who also serves as a consultant to the Houmas House plantation.

“It doesn’t feel like an old home now,” Blanchard said of Ashland-Belle Helene, built in a symmetrical and stately American Greek Revival style.

“It’s classic and on a grand scale, but not so powerful as to intimidate,” he said. “It’s still a comfortable home.”

Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter @EllynCouvillion.