Thursday, January 29, 2009
Thibodaux (pronounced "TIB-uh-doe"; IPA: /ˈtɪbədoʊ/ or "TIB-oh-doe"; /ˈtɪbodoʊ/) is a small city in and the parish seat of Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, United States, along the banks of Bayou Lafourche in the northwestern part of the parish. The population was 14,431 at the 2000 census. Thibodaux is a principal city of the Houma–Bayou Cane–Thibodaux Metropolitan Statistical Area.
ZIP codes for Thibodaux are 70301, 70302, and 70310. Thibodaux's area code is 985. Thibodaux is nicknamed "Queen City of Lafourche."
The community was settled in the 18th century. It was incorporated as a town in 1830 under the name Thibodauxville, in honor of local plantation owner Henry Schuyler Thibodaux, who in 1824 served as acting governor of Louisiana. The name was changed to Thibodeaux in 1838, and the current spelling Thibodaux was officially adopted in 1918.
A sugar cane workers' strike culminated in the "Thibodaux Massacre" of Nov. 1-4,1887, the second most bloody labor dispute in U.S. history. The strike for higher wages of 10,000 workers (1,000 of whom were white) was organized by the Knights of Labor during rolling period. This was critical to the sugar cane harvest. Planters were alarmed both by outside organizations and the thought of losing their total crops. Plantations in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes were involved. The governor called in the State militia at the planters' request. Efforts to break the strike resulted in the deaths of a total of 30-35 African American workers, chiefly at the hands of white paramilitary members.
In 1896, the first "rural free delivery" of mail in Louisiana began in Thibodaux. It was the second in the United States.
Nicholls State University.
The Roman Catholic patron saints of Thibodaux are Saint Valérie, an early Christian martyr, and Saint Vitalis of Milan, her husband, also a martyr. A life-sized reliquary of Saint Valérie, containing an arm bone, was brought to Thibodaux in 1868 and is displayed in her shrine in St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Thibodaux. St. Valérie has traditionally been invoked for intercession in protecting Thibodaux from hurricanes.
The city was mentioned in Hank Williams' "Jambalaya (On The Bayou)", in the 1970s Jerry Reed song "Amos Moses," in the 1990s George Strait song "Adalida," and its name is the title of a song by jazz songstress Marcia Ball.
Richard Dalton Williams, a well-known 19th-century Irish patriot, poet, and physician, died of tuberculosis in Thibodaux in 1862, and is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery. His headstone was later erected that year by Irish members of the 8th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment, then encamped in Thibodaux. A famous blues musician, Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones, is buried in Thibodaux, where he often played, and where his manager, Hosea Hill, resided.
Thibodaux, like New Orleans, has California Bungalow houses. All are in the city limits and none are extravagant.
Drexler Motor Company
Notable natives and residents
Charles deGravelles, former Louisiana State Republican chairman; husband of Virginia deGravelles, former Republican national committeewoman from Louisiana
Edward Douglass White, Chief Justice of the Unites States.
Edward Douglass White Sr., Governor of Louisiana.
Eric Andolsek, player for Detroit Lions; died from a motor vehicle accident.
Jarvis Green, defensive end for the New England Patriots.
Graham Patrick Martin, Television Actor, The Bill Engvall Show; Movie Actor,Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.
John Robichaux, jazz musician.
Kody Chamberlain, comic book writer and artist.
Mark Davis, professional basketball player.
Damian Johnson, player for the Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team.
Thibodaux is the annual host of the Manning Passing Academy held by Archie, Peyton, and Eli Manning.
Thibodaux, Louisiana is located in the heart of Cajun country on Bayou Lafourche, less than an hour’s drive from world famous New Orleans. Established in 1801 by Henry Schuyler Thibodaux, our City has a culture all its own; with influences of French and Spanish heritage. Thibodaux is home to a state university, a federal park, plantations, food, music and gatherings like no other. Thibodaux boasts strong community involvement making annual events such as Mardi Gras, Thibodaux Firemen’s Fair and Thibodeauxville possible.
Mardi Gras is a Louisiana cultural event that stems from the belief that celebrations of over indulgence should precede the forty-day fasting period known to Catholics as lent. Thibodaux’s carnival is a time for young and old to get out and "Laissez Les Bon Temp Roulez" Cajun Style with family oriented celebrations, parades and parties. These community gatherings are a great way for tourist and locals alike to get out and celebrate the Mardi Gras season.
Louisiana’s largest all-volunteer fire department sponsors the Thibodaux Fireman’s Fair and Parade during the first weekend in May, which over the years has evolved from a small family event to a large-scale community celebration of over 50,000 people. It is the oldest continuous annual parade dating back to 1858, only skipping three years due to the Civil War. The fair and parade honors and supports these volunteer firemen who are well-trained and proudly devoted to the care of all citizens with a pageant, auction, live music, rides and great food. The fair funds up-to-date fire equipment and continuous fire education and training.
Local festivals abound in Bayou Country. Thibodeauxville Fall Festival is an art, craft, food and music festival held on the downtown streets where local merchants and citizens come together to reminisce and celebrate earlier days. Thibodeauxville is held on the second Saturday of every November, sponsored by the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce. Thousands of visitors attend each year and enjoy good food, good music and a good time as well as to participate in the rubber duck race in Bayou Lafourche.
Located on the banks of Bayou Lafourche, the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve is Thibodaux’s own Federal Park. Beautifully landscaped grounds surround the lovingly restored Percy Lobdell Building that houses a theatre for the performing arts, a library and a museum of local culture and exhibits. At the Thibodaux Playhouse, located in the park, is where local actors showcase their talents for the community by performing original plays and classics.
The Lafourche Parish Public Library is housed in the upper level of the Jean Lafitte Center while the lower level is dedicated to the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center where visitors can learn about Thibodaux’s unique culture and heritage. Through exhibits and videos, visitors learn that Indian tribes originally inhabited the area currently called Thibodaux as early as 1686 and made alliances in 1699 with Iberville, who called them river or bayou people. In about 1750, early French and Spanish colonist came from New Orleans and established their settlements along Bayou Lafourche. The bayou became their chief means of commerce and is referred to as the "Longest main street in the world." Transportation, communication and fresh water made early Thibodaux a thriving trade center. Many settlers, after 1755, took refuge with hospitable compatriots of Thibodaux as a result of the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia and the French refugees of the French revolution. Many names and customs of present Thibodaux residents reflect that of these early Acadian settlers. Their hard-working, fun-loving culture is Thibodaux's major influence.
The flavor of southern Louisiana cooking is savored in Thibodaux’s locally owned restaurants offering delicious seafood and other southern and Cajun favorites. It's southern hospitality at it’s best with popular bayou side restaurants, golf course, 8recreational parks, 2 major hotel chains, and the City’s Civic Center which is home to music, antiques, basketball, RV hook-ups and other fun events.
Visitors into our beautiful City will feel protected while touring around Thibodaux because of our progressive Police Department.
There is a quality hospital with doctors of every specialty offering excellent "Care With a Personal Touch." Churches of every denomination welcome residents and visitors alike. Clubs and organizations open to participation and membership on the local, national, and international level.
Thibodaux, Louisiana is the city "Where Yesterday Welcomes Tomorrow." Many visitors who come to taste the flavor of Thibodaux with its nearby swamp tours, hunting, fishing and water sports come back to visit or retire in the welcoming Queen City of Bayou Lafourche – Thibodaux, Louisiana. We hope you will, too
The history of Bayou Lafourche can best be told by recounting the history of the French, Spanish, English and German speaking families who settled its banks in the early 1700's. In less than 200 years, their descendants, joined by Acadians expelled from Nova Scotia, merged those cultures, customs and heritages into a society known the world over as "Cajun Country."
Early settlers explored a descending fork of the Mississippi River that mapmakers had named "LaFourche Des Chetimachas." This distributary bayou, its name soon shortened to "LaFourche" served the early settlers well as a means of communication, a method of transportation, and a source of fresh water. The bayou was even used as a point of reference when giving directions. Today's residents frequently refer to a given location as "up the bayou," "down the bayou," or "across the bayou."
It was not long before a close knit community of farmers and fishermen had extended the length of the bayou village settlement for many miles, building side by side.
Control of the frequent bayou overflows played an important part in the early residents' settlement pattern. Laws held each landowner responsible for the construction and maintenance of a bayou levee for his own protection and that of his neighbors.
Land grants had a width of less than 600 feet but with tremendous depth. Many farmers and plantations in the early 1700-1800's had a depth of at least a mile and a half. A pattern developed consisting of a narrow bayou front farm with a long "ribbon" of land streaming behind it. Each had access to the bayou, and each had less levee to maintain.
Historians, taking note of the unique pattern of housing development, with one residence after another lined up fronting the for about 50 miles from Thibodaux to Golden Meadow, began referring to it as "the longest street in the world." It is said that a baseball thrown from "front yard to front yard" could be started in Thibodaux and be in Golden Meadow an hour later.
Isolation resulted when Lafourche's residents took advantage of having the bayou for a front door and the swamp as their back yard. The bayou contained an unlimited food supply that could be eaten or bartered. The swamps and marshland contained abundant animal life which could be hunted for food or for their pelts.
Perhaps it was their colorful language, maybe their strong religious beliefs, their strong work ethics, or their love of a good time, and and maybe it was the sheer force of numbers (families of fifteen or twenty were not uncommon)--whatever the reason-- in time, the Acadian culture, language, religion, absorbed the others. Within a century of their arrival, Acadian was the predominant culture on the bayou.
The Cajun of Lafourche may be forgiven for being proud: for at one time he was the "poor folks" of the swamps. Then he took a land that nobody else wanted and turned it into something special: he made it his.
Excerpts from "The Longest Street" by Tanya Brady Ditto
A visit, call or e-mail to the Lafourche Parish Visitor Center located on Hwy.1 and U.S.90 along Bayou Lafourche can provide information about things to see and do throughout the area.
The Jean Lafitte National Park Wetlands Acadian Center
The Jean Lafitte National Park Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux tells the story of the Acadians who settled along the bayous and the wetland swamps of southeastern Louisiana, with extensive exhibits and artifacts. Their history, language, music, and architecture are interpreted as well as everyday life among the Acadians of the region, then and now. The Center is open Tuesday - Thursday from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Friday - Sunday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Monday from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.. A musical Cajun Jam Session takes place every Monday evening from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. All musicians and dancers are invited to the impromptu sessions. Anyone aspiring to be a Cajun musician is most welcomed.
The Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center is located at 314 St. Mary St. in Thibodaux along the banks of Bayou Lafourche. A spacious boardwalk affords an excellent view of the bayou. Click here for more information and directions.
Several large plantations are easily accessible in the area. Madewood Plantation located in Napoleonville on LA. 308 north of Thibodaux, is considered the finest example of a Greek-Revival mansion in the state. Tours are available daily. Other plantations near by are Oak Alley Plantation and Laura Plantation both located on LA. Hwy. 18, north of Thibodaux via LA. Hwy. 20. Oak Alley's quarter mile alley of twenty-eight sheltering oak trees, over 250 years old, still greet you today. Laura is a Creole Plantation and the American home of Br'er Rabbit. Laura is one of the oldest and largest existing plantation complexes on the River Road with 12 historic buildings, including 2 manor houses, slaves quarters and Creole cottages.
Cabins at Laurel Valley Plantation
Laurel Valley Plantation is the largest surviving 19th and 20th century sugar plantation in the United States. The sugar cane fields, the slaves quarters, and general store featuring local arts and crafts still exist as a tribute to a way of life of the early settlers along Bayou Lafourche. The General Store , located on LA. Hwy. 308 about a mile south of Thibodaux, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and weekends 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.. The Center for Traditional Boat Building recently constructed a work area where local boat builders demonstrate their workmanship on scheduled days. For more information call 1-985-447-5216 or click here for details.
The Edward Douglas White Historic Site, located 4 miles north of Thibodaux on LA. Hwy. 1, features exhibits about the life and accomplishments of both Governor E.D.White I and U.S. Chief Justice E.D.White II. The exhibits are contained in an antebellum Creole cottage which sits on six acres of land dotted with massive old oak trees, surrounded by sugar cane fields. The grounds are available for picnics and general recreation. Bus Tours, Senior Groups, School Groups, etc. are welcome.
Tuesday thru Saturday - 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
St. Joseph Co-Cathedral St. Joseph Co-Cathedral on Canal Blvd. in Thibodaux, is Renaissance Romanesque in design with several features reflecting architectural design common to churches in Paris and Rome. The splendid Rose Window over the main entrance is modeled after that of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Click here for more info and directions
St. John's Episcopal Church, located at 718 Jackson St. in Thibodaux, is one of the oldest Episcopal churches west of the Mississippi River. St. John's is one of the few examples of Georgian church architecture left in America. Click here for more info
Thibodaux is the parish (county) seat for Lafourche. It is graced by moss-laden oaks, plantation homes, and lush sugar cane fields. Thibodaux is a quaint university town which can boast of several clean city awards. Nicholls State University has provided educational opportunities to many of the local as well as regional citizens. Local citizens call Nicholls "Harvard on the Bayou." Click here to visit the Nicholls State University website
Click here to visit the City of Thibodaux website
In addition to the sugar cane related industries, Thibodaux is quickly becoming a recognized center for excellent health care facilities. New technology, a growing medical staff, and new facilities have made local health care readily available.
Its Cajun heritage gives Thibodaux a unique appeal. Many local restaurants serving Cajun as well as regular fare, weekend festivals, Mardi Gras parades, and some of the best outdoor recreation that South Louisiana has to offer is only minutes away.
The Kraemer area, located on LA. Hwy 307, has swamp tours that offer some of the most spectacular scenery of all the Louisiana swamps and bottom lands. The swamp boat guides are experienced alligator hunters who have lived, worked and played in the swamps all their lives. Be sure to bring your camera because all of these tours are sure to be an opportunity to see a lot of wildlife.
Religion has always been a very large part of the Acadian's lives, especially the Catholic Church. The small communities along the bayou have nice, large churches which are surrounded by neat well-maintained above-ground cemeteries. St. Mary's Church has a large, neat, well kept cemetery where the first casualty of World War II is entombed.
Bayou Lafourche affords a picturesque scenic drive as it meanders south to the Gulf of Mexico. Driving south through the communities of Raceland, Lockport, Larose, Cut Off, Galliano, Golden Meadow, Leeville, and Fourchon enables a visitor to experience the different lifestyles that make up the Cajun way of life. The bayou itself changes from a lazy, slow moving stream surrounded by sugar cane fields, to a widened, quick, vibrant and busy waterway. Especially noticeable is the increased boat traffic--from offshore oil-related vessels, pleasure crafts, shrimp boats, oyster boats and small mud boats.
Click here to visit the Town of Lockport website
Bayou Lafourche meets the Gulf of Mexico at Port Fourchon. Here the oil and gas industry, recreational and commercial fishermen work side by side. The Port serves as a terminal for much of the oil activities in South Louisiana. Supply boats, oil drilling vessels, oil field personnel, repair docks, and labor crews all work out of this area. Port Fourchon also is home to many fishing camps and shore birds, ducks, and other migratory birds finding food and refuge there.
Laurel Valley Plantation
Laurel Valley is an unusually large sugar plantation complex with approximately 80 buildings set on a tract of about 500 acres.
The boundaries were chosen to respect the historical boundaries which are still intact. The southern boundary has always been Bayou Lafourche end the northern boundary has always been the swampland to the north of the complex. The east and west boundaries have fluctuated over the years and in any case the significance of the complex historically extended to other plantations beyond the Laurel Valley tract. So the east and west boundaries were chosen to properly encompass the plantation complex.
The plantation is set on flat open meadowland which is surrounded by sugar cane fields.
There are only two major land forms in the district. One is the natural levee which runs parallel to Bayou Lafourche. The other is a ridge which runs north-south near the main road from the bayou to the sugar mill; at one time it held a narrow gauge railroad which carried sugar cane. This forms the road bed for Louisiana Highway 308.
There are three main areas of buildings within the plantation. All of the buildings on Laurel Valley Plantation, with the exception of the sugar mill are of cypress frame construction with brick piers and chimneys and most now have galvanized tin roofs which replaced the original wood shingles. Most of the materials came from the plantation itself: bricks were made by hand, the cypress lumber was logged and milled at the plantation saw mill, and hardware was hand wrought by the blacksmith.
Some of the houses show evidence of a crude type of prefabrication especially
featured by "plug on" type additions. All the houses have a front porch and a gutter system for routing precious rain water to the cistern. These were also constructed of cypress.
1. Along Highway 308: There is a scattering of buildings which occur along Highway 308 just inland from the levee. At one time this area contained the entire plantation complex, but in 1850 the complex was re-located further inland. Today the oldest building in the area dates from the late 19th century. There is a group of c.1900 Creole cottages (one-story frame houses with two rooms front and back with porches, and chimneys between the rooms). There is the plantation church, a modern but simple block gabled roof building with a square front tower, which is in keeping with the district. There is also the plantation store c.1890, a board and batten gable roof building.
2. The Main House Complex: This complex is set amid a grove of live oaks across the east side of the district. The main house (A-1) is a one and a half story enlarged clapboard cottage with a three bay front porch, Renaissance Revival details, and a single frontal Queen Anne dormer. In about 1915 a rear extension was added. The interiors are not noteworthy. Adjacent to the main
house is a frame servants cottage, with one room in the front and one in the rear.
3. The Production and Workers' Housing Complex: This area contains the ruin of the old sugar mill, which is surrounded by support buildings, a pond, and workers' houses of several grades. South of the sugar mill is a group of approximately 45 cottages all of which date from around the turn of the century. These are laid out along the plantation's main road system. They fall
into two major categories.
A. Shotgun houses: These simple two room houses (one front and one back with a chimney between) were for the lowest order of workers. They have simple pitch roofs with frontal gables and simple front porches. Most are laid out along two parallel roads which turn eastward from the main plantation access road.
B. Creole double houses: Somewhat larger and more comfortable than the shotguns, these frame houses which are similar to the servants cottage near the main house, are laid out in a row east of the main access road (C-2-12). They are also scattered around the area of concentrated shotguns. These were occupied by two families though most have been converted for one.
C. Single family Creole houses: These four room houses with rear wings have a similar front porch to the servants cottage. These were for the more senior employees of the plantation. Most of them are in a row which occurs to the east of the main workers' housing area (B-3-8). Their placement closer to the main house perhaps denotes the higher status of their occupants.
All of the workers' houses are in remarkably original condition. Despite the remodeling of some of the interiors, none of the buildings have been re-sided, and none of the porches have been removed, and most retain all their columns.
In addition to the aforementioned housing there is a special foreman's house and an
overseer's house. There placement closer to the main house than any other housing structures probably indicates their status.
Additional housing was afforded by the boarding house when the plantation was fully
operational. This c.1900 six bay two story clapboard frame, structure occurs immediately west of the sugar mill ruin.
Another large structure adjacent to the sugar mill is the corn barn whose attic is equipped with rails and cars for easy moving about of produce.
Although the brick sugar mill was ruined by a hurricane in 1965, the walls stand to a full two stories on all four sides and the Laurel Valley Foundation intends to stabilize them. It is a handsome ruin with buttresses, arches, and an interesting rhythm of bays. The ruin still holds the complex together visually, and it conveys the sense of the functional center of the plantation. The adjacent ponds were used for the procurement of water in the sugar making process.
The mule barn and the crane no longer exist. Across the pond from the sugar mill ruin is the grinding mill and pump station, a large frame building which was used to grin corn and pump water.
LAUREL VALLEY PLANTATION ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION
Plantation House: woodframe, clapboarding, gable roof, dormers, 4 chimneys, 1 stories, ca. 1880.
Servants' Quarters: woodframe, clapboarding, 1 chimney, 1 story, gable roof, ca. 1880.
Double Creole House: woodframe, board and batten, 1 chimney, gable roof, 1 story, unknown.
School House: Woodframe, board and batten, 1 chimney, gable roof, 1 story, ca. 1910.
Shotgun House: woodframe, board and batten, 1 chimney, 1 story, Victorian barge board, ca. 1910.
Creole Type: woodframe, clapboarding and board and batten, 2 chimneys, porche, gable roof, 1880 ca.
Telephone Booth: Operable, board and batten, 1 story.
Weighing Station: clapboarding, utility construction, 1 story, ca. 1910.
Plantation Foreman House: woodframe, clapboarding, gable roof, 3 chimneys, ca. 1900.
Watchman/Overseer’s House: woodframe, gable roof, 2 chimneys, porch, clapboarding, ca. 1900.
Double Creole Tenant Houses: woodframe, board and batten, 2 chimneys, 1 story, porch, gable roof, ca. 1880.
Creole Tenant House: woodframe, board and batten, 1 story, gable roof, ca. 1880, 2 chimneys.
Office/Carriage House: woodframe, board and batten, 1 story, 1 chimney, gable roof, porche, ca. 1880.
Shop: Woodframe, board and batten, 1 story, gable roof, ca. 1880.
Single-Tenant House/Creole House: woodframe, board and batten, 2 chimneys, 1 story, porch, gable roof, ca. 1884
Multiple Tenant House/Storage Shed: woodframe, board and batten, 1 story, 1 chimney, gable roof, ca. 1900.
Single Tenant Shotgun House: woodframe, board and batten, 1 chimney, 1 story, porche, gable roof, ca. 1900.
Sugar Mill: Brick and wood structure, ca. 1850
Exhaust Stack: Brick, ca. 1850.
Boarding House: woodframe, clapboarding, 1 chimney, 2 stories, gable roof, ca. 1900.
Grinding Mill Pump Station: woodframe, board and batten, 1 story, gable roof
Corn Shed Barn: Woodframe, 1 story, gable roof, vertical boards, ca. 1880.
Shed: open sides, gable roof, unknown date of construction.
Pump House: woodframe, board and batten, 1 story, gable roof, unknown date of construction.
Creole Tenant House: woodframe, board and batten, 1 story, gable roof, ca. 1890
Weigh Station: shed type, ca. 1890.
Plantation Church (Prot.): block and brick, gable roof, 1 story, used by black workers on pltn., adjacent cemetery, (replaced 1900ca. structure).
Double Creole House: woodframe, board and batten, clapboarding, 2 chimneys, gable roof, ca. 1890.
Plantation Store: woodframe, 1 chimney, gable roof, board and batten, ca. 1890
Double Creole House: woodframe, clapboarding, 1 story, 1 chimney, gable roof, 1890 ca.
Creole House: woodframe, clapboarding, 2 chimneys, 1 story, gable roof, 1900 ca.
Creole House: woodframe, board and batten, gable roof, porch, 1 chimney, porch, ca. 1910
Shotgun House: woodframe, board and batten, porch, 1 story, gable roof, ca. 1890.
SPECIFIC DATES BUILDER/ARCHITECT STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
Laurel Valley is an excellent representation of the historic sugar production industry in the deep south. It also represents an economic epoch in the gulf states area. This of course is the sugar boom c.1890-1924, a period when Laurel Valley enjoyed its greatest growth and prosperity. With 76 extant buildings including the sugar mill ruin, the grinding mill, the corn barn, the main house, the workers houses, the church and the store, it is one of the largest surviving sugar production and manufacturing complexes in the United States.
Before the 1930's, Laurel Valley was a world within a world. People lived, worked,
worshipped, and died within the confines of the plantation. They could buy supplies at the plantation store and educate their children at the plantation school. This enclosed life style is apparent today even to the casual observer.
In addition, Laurel Valley contains a fine collection of regional housetypes including several variations of the Creole cottage type and shotgun houses.
Laurel Valley’s origin dates back to 1775, when Etienne Boudreaux secured a 528 acre land grant from the Spanish government. The plantation remained in the Boudreaux family until 1819 when the land was sold to Joseph Tucker. (Tucker's son, J. W. Tucker, married the granddaughter of Henry Schuyler Thibodaux, founder of the Thibodaux/Houma area.) The plantation would change hands several times throughout the nineteenth century, finally being sold to J. Wilson Lepine and Frank Barker in 1893. By this time additional land purchases had expanded the size of Laurel Valley
to 3,023 acres. The Lepine family acquired a majority interest in the Plantation in 1903 when Frank Barker died.
The plantation first developed adjacent to Bayou Lafourche. Not much is known about this early complex, the present structures in that area date from considerably later. It is known, however, that Laurel Valley's main complex was moved from the bayou site to a point inland between 1800 and 1850. It was moved to what was then the center of its agricultural holding. At this time, the first sugar kettles were bought and Laurel Valley became both an agricultural farm and an industrial center.
Originally, the complex basically consisted of the brick portion of the sugar house which was built around 1850 and a main road dividing two opposing rows of 13 double houses also built about 1850. The "Big House” now standing was not built until about 1884, but the original plantation residence was probably in approximately the same location.
In the 1890's the plantation began to expand, thrive and become one of the important
businesses of the area. Its crop was typical of the Bayou Lafourche farming district. Under the new Lepine and Barker ownership, the plantation complex was altered by removing a number of the double houses on one row and superimposing a plan of two lanes dividing opposing rows of 24 shotgun houses. These lanes were each punctuated with two wells to provide water and a meeting place. These additional homes along with the camphouse and boarding hall were located on the "sugar house" side of the main road. This gave them quick access to the center of activity. On the other side of the main road remained the single row of double houses. Behind these double houses and on a new land facing the mill pond, was added another new row of houses in the basic Creole style with additions. Each family residence had a cistern, privy, and occasionally a coop or other animal shelter, and a garden which was surrounded by a pickets fence.
The houses located closest to the "Big House" generally were larger and had more yard space, therefore, they housed the more skilled workers and provided them with a certain prestige.
During this period the narrow gauge railroad brought cane in from neighboring farms for processing at the sugar mill. As Bayou Lafourche became less and less navigable, the railroad became the main mover of produce both into the processing plant and out to the market.
Bayou Boeuf Elementary School
The main body of documentation includes the almost complete account of business records at the height of plantation activity between the years 1900 to 1926. Among the records are the bookkeeper's daily diaries from the years 1903 to 1913. As was the custom of that period, the daily activities were recorded along with information about the crop, weather, and any major event such as a flood, fire or death.
Bayou Boeuf Elementary School (Inside)
Business records include the various account books, payroll ledgers and numerous letters of correspondence with other businesses nationwide. Such letters between the
plantation and The Springfield Boiler and Manufacturing Company, J. S. Schofield's and Sons' Company in Georgia, C. J. Walton and Son in Kentucky, The John H. Murphy Iron Works in New Orleans, The Fulton Company in Tennessee, The Erie City Iron Works, The Luik Belt Machinery Company in Chicago, the Lambert Hoisting Engine Company in New Jersey, and others link the economic history of the plantation with that of the nation. Also included in the collection are over one-hundred blueprints showing the details and location of the sugar house machinery within the mill, plans for hoists, engines, farm machinery, windmill and tower, pumps and other items
necessary in the process of growing and refining sugarcane.
Laurel Valley Plantation Sugar Factory
There exists from the turn of the century an appraisal/inventory by the American Appraisal Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was apparently required by mortgage holders for insurance purposes and reveals the plantation's status in such detail as the number of bolts in the mill. It provides a picture of a rapidly expanding business under the aggressive management of Barker and Lepine. The one story sugar house was modernized and expanded into the three story mill shown in the blueprints included in the appraisal of 1909. However, Mr. Lepine's death in 1926 coincided with
the advent of the Sugar Depression, and the plantation management passed into the competent hands of his son, J. Wilson Lepine, Jr. Struggling to get the mill back into operation in 1928, Mr. Lepine wrote in a letter: ''Laurel Valley contains . . . 1,000 (acres) at present under cultivation with 60 heads of mules, implements, cart wagons, etc., 4 residences, tenant and labor houses and other improvements, 25 miles of railroad, two locomotives, 250 cane cars, all in fairly good shape, for I am this year going to use railroad, locomotives and cars. We will have about 500 acres of cane for the mill in 1929, sufficient money to care for full operation . . ."
Laurel Valley Plantation Store
The Great Depression of the 1930's brought economic disaster to the sugar industry and southern Louisiana which had just begun to see some hope of recovery. The sugar house was never reopened. However, Mr. Lepine was one of very few sugar planters who did not lose everything; he grew vegetables and potatoes which were shipped to V. J. Damiani and Bros. in Chicago and others. By 1950, the plantation was again in first-class order.
Laurel Valley Plantation House
While traveling through the beautiful State of Louisiana, we found ourselves lost in bayou country, down around Morgan City. Having read about the Laurel Valley Village, we decided to take some time and go locate it, hoping to get some good pictures and maybe a story or two about the area. We only had a general idea where it might be located so off we went. The eerie scenes from the movie, Angel Heart (1987) were filmed here so it sounded like a place we would be interested in.
We stayed in the outskirts of a little town of Houma, not far from the town of Thibodaux. That is where our search began. Asking directions wasn't of much value as the locals could not help us much. One little lady in Thibodaux though, pointed us in the right direction and about four miles east from Thibodaux, off of Highway 308, we spotted the abandoned village we'd heard about.
Laurel Valley Village was the site of a 2,000 acre sugar plantation, back in the 1910-1920's. The field hands who worked on the plantation were housed right there, near the huge brick sugar mill. Sugar cane is the major crop in this area and at one time, this plantation processed a tremendous amount of sugar. Not only that but the other side of the sugar mill, from where we stood on the road, there was a portion of the building set aside for making barrels, not only for the sugar, but for the molasses as well. It seems with the onset of progress and more competition in the area, the plantation encountered financial difficulties and went belly up in 1926.
The sugar mill is crumbling away, yet looking at it, we realized it must have been a grand building indeed at the peak time of sugar production. The houses are small with outhouses scattered throughout for the convenience of the residents in those early days. The school building must have served as a church also as a cross remains mounted above the entrance. It was just a one room school that provided education for the many grades of children living in the village at the time. The children learned little English there as the language spoken at the time, was French.
Entrance into the area was free, there is a museum/general store for visitors wanting to stop and learn more about the village. The two original train engines used to haul the sugar cane from other sugar plantations in the area, sit out in front of the museum. There are No Trespassing signs around the village as they are in fragile condition and dangerous for visitors to try to enter. The feelings we got while wandering along the road and shooting pictures of the various buildings, we good feelings. It is said ghosts are abundant out there, but taking almost 100 pictures while visiting during late afternoon, we picked up only one anomalous photo that was too faint to post. It was definitely worth visiting.
We met the son of the foreman who use to work on the plantation, Johnny Thibodaux, who spent more than an hour giving us a history of the place. It seems he was born here and went to the old school which housed five grades. See the first row, second photo of the building with the cross. This old school taught many a field hand during its time. He left but returned to the town named for one of his ancestors.
This village is comprised of 70 buildings and is said to be the largest surviving sugar plantation complex in the United States. Built in the late 1800s, most of the structures are small, Acadian-style cabins with brick chimney's. Over the years these have housed sharecroppers, German prisoners of war and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) laborers. A general store contains displays of antique tools, farm implements and local arts and crafts. Opened on Tues.-Fri. from 10-4 and Sat.-Sun. noon-4. It is closed on all major holidays and it is free.
Laurel Valley Plantation Slave Cabins
Acadia Plantation House
The Acadia Plantation nomination has both an archaeological and standing structures
component, as outlined below:
The Acadia Plantation archaeological site is located south of Bayou Lafourche, along the crest of the natural levee. Highway 1 is now approximately 50 meters to the north, and Nicholls State University is approximately 500 meters to the west-northwest.
The nominated area now includes pastures, a house--formed of earlier structures, and
plantation outbuildings. This encompasses the original locations of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Acadian homes and probably includes remains of Acadian farm outbuildings, as well as archaeological deposits associated with mid- to late-nineteenth century homes and an early sugar mill. The sugar house, built in 1830, was located southwest of the house that is standing today. It was used until a new sugar mill was built in another area in 1854. Slave quarters and an overseer's house probably were near the original sugar mill.
Rear View of Acadia Plantation House
The areas where the Acadian homes were located as well as the areas where the early
sugar mill and slave quarters may have been are all in pasture. They have been disked to a depth of two to three inches, but have never been plowed for agriculture, or otherwise deeply disturbed. Land surrounding the nominated area is used for agriculture and has been plowed. Therefore, it is unlikely to have intact deposits.
The succession of ownership of the land is well-documented. The Plater family, current owners of the plantation, have copies of original documents of sale, sheriff's sale inventories, slave lists, and structural inventories. The Lafourche Parish Courthouse also houses Conveyance Records from the nineteenth century that document the early property owners at Acadia.
Through these records, it is known that Acadian farmers first settled along Bayou Lafourche at Acadia in the late 1700s. Their farms were long and narrow, so many owners could have bayou frontage. Bayou Lafourche provided the transportation link with the rest of the region.
Records do not show when the first Acadians arrived, but by 1812, the nominated area had three owners. Pierre Gadre owned Section 34, Jean Morange owned Section 35, except for the upper one arpent, which Nicholas Lanie owned.
This upper portion of Section 35 is the location of the "east locality" archaeological site.
When Lanie sold this land to James Bowie in 1828 it included "improvements," which probably referred to a house and other structures.
The area now called the "west locality" archaeological site in Section 34 was bought from Gadre by Henry S. Thibodaux, then sold to Mr. Picout in 1818, who owned it until his death. The Picout estate sold it to Stephen Bowie in 1830, and the records of sale show that a small house was on the property at that time.
Thus, it is documented that the nominated area was settled by Acadian farmers who later sold the land to the Bowie brothers. James Bowie, known for his dueling exploits, may have lived in Rapides Parish during the time of Acadia ownership. Stephen lived in Lafourche Parish, possibly at Acadia, and served as the parish sheriff in the 1830s. Rezin, designer of the Bowie knife, served in the state legislature and lived in Lafourche Parish. He probably lived at Acadia and managed the first steam-powered crushing mill in the state. It is this mill that was located southwest of the big house now standing. The Bowies sold the plantation to three men from Natchez, Mississippi in 1831, and subsequently the property changed hands many times.
The Plater family, knowledgeable about this history, had observed artifacts in the west locality and east locality. They invited archaeologists from the Louisiana State Archaeologist's Office to visit Acadia in 1976, and they have subsequently funded test excavations at the site. The archaeologists who recorded the site conducted a pedestrian survey, with shovel testing and probing. They investigated two apparent house sites, at the north end of Section 34 and at the north end of Section 35.
In the west locality, they recorded midden and artifacts over an area 50m (NE-SW) by 130m (NW-SE). The material collected included ceramics, glass, brick fragments, and oyster shells. The artifact types suggested an occupation throughout the nineteenth century.
In the east locality, they recorded artifacts over an area of approximately 35m (NE-SW) by 65m (NW-SE). A large percentage of the ceramics were pearlware or creamware, suggesting an occupation in the early nineteenth century. The size, depth, and materials observed are those expected for historic houses. This initial recording and survey suggested that the east locality may have been the Acadian house sold to James Bowie in 1823. If so, it does not appear to have been occupied after that time.
The west locality, however, was occupied during and after the time Stephen Bowie lived at Acadia. It may have been the Acadian residence sold to Bowie. Based on the time it was used, this could also have been the location of one of the houses that was consolidated to form the large house that is now standing.
Additional archaeological testing in the east and west localities was directed by Richard Beavers of the University of New Orleans. Three test pits were placed in the west locality, revealing a midden 15cm thick. The corner of a brick pier, artifacts, and a layer of brick rubble were uncovered. About 10 percent of the ceramics were creamware and pearlware, substantiating earlier findings that the area dates to the nineteenth century.
One test pit was placed in the east locality, and brick paving and ceramics were recovered.
Pearlware and creamware accounted for approximately 73% of the ceramics, confirming the earlier finding that the area appears to date to the last quarter of the eighteenth century. or the first part of the nineteenth century. No testing has been conducted in the area that may be the location of the 1830 sugar mill, but it is likely that it, along with an overseer's house and slave quarters, remain in the triangular-shaped pasture southwest of the standing house.
The present standing structures at Acadia include a c.1890 frame Queen Anne Revival
main house, two contemporaneous cottages, and several relatively modern outbuildings. Although the main house has been altered, it still retains enough of its Queen Anne Revival-Eastlake styling to merit National Register listing.
According to family history, the present main house was assembled from three older houses in about 1850. The resulting composite structure was raised seven feet and renovated in the Queen Revival style in about 1890. An early photograph shows two of the houses before they were "assembled." The fact that such a photograph exists tends to indicate that the house was probably moved together in the later nineteenth century rather than in 1850. However, speculation on this point is moot because the 1890 renovation was so complete that there is virtually nothing visible
from the earlier houses. For all intents and purposes one is dealing with a c.1890 structure.
The house has a rambling cruciform plan with ten major rooms on the principal story. One approaches Acadia via two flights of steps which ascend a full story to an elaborate Eastlake gallery.
This gallery makes a total of four ninety degree turns as it runs from one side of the house to the other. The gallery culminates in an open columnar turret which at one time had a faceted conical roof. The main entrance of the house is marked by an oeil-de-boeuf gable supported by two enormous sunburst brackets. Each of the Eastlake gallery columns is surmounted by a rounder bracket ornamented with pateras. The balusters are rather unusual, being square with rowder-cut flutes.
The complex roofline consists of a central pyramid with gabled wings coming off on all four sides. Dormers are of two types--gablets and the more conventional sash window type. All of them are ornamented with oeil-de-boeuf motifs. Overall, the roofline features a total of fifteen gables (including the dormers). The roofline is further enlivened by a central ornamental vent stack and five chimneys.
Each of the principal gables is ornamented with imbricated shingles. At one time they also featured a large oculus and decorative vergeboards, but these were removed in the 1930s. (Each oculus was replaced by a conventional sash window.
Other noteworthy exterior features include the oculus windows at the basement level, the window and door cornices, and the shutters, most of which are original to the 1890 period. The interiors are spacious but fairly plain. Essentially the floor plan takes its shape around an off-center hall. Many of the rooms were reworked with a Georgian-looking panel treatment in the 1940s. Also at about that time part of the hall was enlarged to form a living area and small rear and side extensions were built.
Assessment of Integrity:
The statement of architectural significance is concerned with Acadia as it existed after 1890.
Despite the changes the house has undergone since that time, it still retains enough significant features to establish its local architectural importance.
The archaeological east and west localities are listed as contributing elements. Architectural contributing elements are shown as solid dark shapes on the attached to-scale map. They include the main house, two cisterns, and two servants cottages, all of which are contemporaneous. The early dependencies illustrate the type of support structures a large plantation house of the late-nineteenth century would have had. Non-contributing elements are shown on the map as hollow outlined shapes.
They include two garages, two sheds, two small houses, two barns, and a stable,
none of which date from the period of architectural significance.
CONTRIBUTING ELEMENTS COUNT:
Specific dates late 18th-19th century (archaeology) c.1890 (house) Builder/Architect Uncertain (house) Statement of Significance (in one paragraph) Acadia Plantation is of state significance in the area of historic archaeology and of local significance in the area of architecture.
HISTORIC ARCHAEOLOGY - CRITERION D
The archaeological components of Acadia Plantation provide an unusual opportunity to
study Acadian farmsteads of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and to document consolidation of these farmsteads into a bayou-focused sugar plantation in the nineteenth century.
Test excavations have shown the archaeological deposits at Acadia to be intact and well preserved.
Study of these in the future will provide information that is not available at other sites of their age and that will contribute to the understanding of eighteenth and nineteenth century Louisiana.
As discussed in Louisiana's Comprehensive Archaeological Plan, the most notable
immigrants to the state during the late eighteenth century were the Acadians. However, knowledge of sites where they settled is meager and attempts to locate them have had disappointing results.
Acadian farmsteads are identified in the plan as rare in expected frequency, and in fact, only one Acadian site of any kind is listed in the plan. Two others, in addition to Acadia, are now in the Louisiana site files, but these are both described as plantations. Small farmsteads are more typical of Acadian settlement patterns. Acadia is unique in having at least two farmsteads on the property.
Also, according to Louisiana's Comprehensive Archaeological Plan, very little research has been conducted at sugar plantations in Louisiana. Of the sugar plantations listed in the plan, all but one is on the Mississippi River. The other is on the Ouachita River, leaving no examples of bayou-focused sugar plantations.
The only sugar plantations other than Acadia where excavation work has been conducted are on the Mississippi.
The early development of the plantation can be studied at Acadia because the 1830s sugar house, slave quarters, and overseer's house were abandoned in 1854 when new ones were built in another area. This gives an opportunity to study remains known to date to a brief time period. Areas around houses used in the nineteenth century are known to have been in pasture since the latter part of the century, and thus, archaeological deposits are preserved.
In summary, "Acadia represents a pattern of early settlement and consolidation common to small bayous, exemplifies the pattern of development of these plantations, provides a distinct contrast to patterns known for the large land grants along the Mississippi River and is rare in having remained a unit ...." (Beavers 1983:105).
Specific research goals identified in the plan that have been, or can be, addressed at Acadia include the following:
1. "Obtain basic locational data on colonial agricultural complexes like ... early
2. "Examine the ties between Louisiana and French Canada.... Where were the initial
3. "Examine the role, regional diversity, and history of Louisiana's antebellum
plantation society. What differences existed between the cotton plantation and the
4. "Investigate the small antebellum farmstead. What differences exist between the
small Acadian farmstead and the Upland South farmstead? What relationships
existed between them and the large plantations? Between these farmsteads and
the rural villages?"
5. "Define any differences identifiable in the archaeological remains of antebellum
ethnic enclaves like the free blacks, Creoles, urban Irish, Acadians and those of
Acadia also can provide answers to these questions:
1. What outbuildings were associated with Acadian farmsteads?
2. How is the 1830s land consolidation reflected in the archaeological record? Were
Acadian homes abandoned or reoccupied?
3. What was the design of an early steam-driven sugar mill?
4. How do the early nineteenth century slave quarters and the overseer's house
compare to those of the latter half of the nineteenth century?
ARCHITECTURE - CRITERION C
The main house at Acadia is locally significant in the area of architecture as a landmark among late nineteenth-early twentieth century residences in Lafourche Parish. There is no doubt that if Acadia had not suffered the losses of integrity described in Item 7, it would be far and away the most impressive late nineteenth/early twentieth century residence in Lafourche Parish. Even in its altered state, it is still a residential landmark of the period. Its long and elaborate Eastlake gallery is a feature found on only four other period residences in the parish. In addition, complex rooflines were a favorite Queen Anne Revival device, and Acadia's is one of the five most elaborate examples in the parish.
Indeed, with well over thirty roof planes, Acadia's roofline is probably more
complicated than any other. Despite the loss of the conical turret top, the turret shape which remains still contributes much to Acadia's elaborate massing. Of course, Acadia is inferior in this respect to the five other Queen Anne Revival residences in the parish that completely retain their turrets. But it is superior to the hundreds of other period residences that do not have even the semblance of a turret.
Finally, Acadia is a vast rambling house that in many ways has the architectural stature of a villa. It is easily the largest example of the Queen Anne Revival style in Lafourche Parish.
Chatchie Plantation House
Chatchie Plantation House is a frame, story and a half, fully raised house which is located in the flat sugarcane fields along Bayou Lafourche approximately three miles east of the town of Thibodaux. The original house, which was built in 1847, burned near the end of the Civil War. The present house was built on or near the original foundation c.1868. The original kitchen was unharmed by the fire and is now connected to the main house. Despite several changes, tike house retains its architectural integrity, Chatchie Plantation House has a largely Anglo-American plan with a central hall flanked by double rooms. The only French touches are the pair of cabinets, which at one time flanked the rear gallery, and the pair of French doors which connect the front gallery with the two front rooms. One of the cabinets still exists, although the rear gallery has been enclosed. The other cabinet has been
incorporated into the rear kitchen wing.
The story and half house is raised a full story above the ground. The ground level is partially enclosed. The main gallery has six solid Doric posts with balustrades, double molded capitals, a full entablature, and an unusually heavy cornice. The unusually large attic story encompasses four rooms and a central hall. Chimneys are set between the front and rear rooms and rest upon arch supports. All the present mantels are in the main story. These Renaissance Revival style mantels are all marbleized. Two are slate and two are cast-iron. The front gallery facade and the walls of the central hall below the chair rail have an unusual treatment. These areas are covered with cypress boards which are cut and beveled to resemble rusticated stone. Windows are 6 over 6. Most of the doors have transoms with rounded ends.
Though it is older than the house, the kitchen wing has been modernized on the interior.
The exterior, however, still conveys an historic appearance.
The present main staircase in the hall is modern, as are the ceiling medallions and crown moldings.
Chatchie is significant because of its identity as a raised plantation house and because of certain features which make it a superior example of that type. In the opinion of the State Historic Preservation Office, the aforementioned identity remains intact as well as the described features which contribute to Chatchie's architectural superiority.
Specific dates 1847 Kitchen c.1868 House
Builder/Architect c.1868 House-F. Justin Gaude
Chatchie Plantation House is architecturally significant on the state level because it is a large and unusually fine example of a raised plantation house within the context of Louisiana.
Its architectural superiority can be seen in the following:
(1) It is raised a full story.
(2) The house is extremely large. The garret story alone has as much space
as some plantation houses in the state.
(3) Its Renaissance Revival rusticated board treatment is very unusual in a
Louisiana plantation house of the period. This type of work is customarily
found only in pretentious urban residences.
(4) Relatively few Louisiana plantation houses of the period have marbleized
mantels such as those at Chatchie. Most have plainer wooden mantels.
Major Bibliographical References
Title Search, Lafourche Parish Courthouse.
The Dansereau House is set on a 1.3 acre lot in the commercial section of Thibodaux.
The surrounding area is characterized by small shops, parking lots, and row houses. Because of its height, which reaches five stories at the cupola level, the Dansereau House towers above its surroundings. The only intrusion on the property is a one story concrete block building to the rear of the house which contains a swimming pool. The lot is landscaped with live oaks, sweet olives, camellias, azaleas and ligrustrum.
It appears that the house began in the 1840's as a 1 story central hall plan building with four large rooms on the ground floor. In the 1870's a second floor of a similar plan was added, along with a two tier gallery on all four sides. The house and galleries were surmounted by a massive mansard roof with a cupola. A new staircase was built to run from the first floor to the third floor mansard garret.
When the present owners took over the property, they made several changes. 1.) They
removed all the fireplaces and chimneys. 2.) They enlarged the living room and the dining room on the ground floor by moving the interior walls toward the rear of the house. The only exterior change that was made was the installation of an elevator on the rear gallery.
The main block of the house is constructed of brick with brick partition walls When the ground floor partition walls were moved, steel beams were inserted above the ceiling to bear the weight of the walls above. The lower tier of the gallery is constructed of brick arches and piers with wood columns on the upper tier. The roof structure is wholly of timber; the shingles have been replaced.
Aside from the Second Empire mansard roof and projecting frontal pavilion, the exterior is mainly articulated with pattern book Italianate details. These include the double arched windows in the dormers, the chamfered columns with brackets in the upper gallery and the combination of arches and piers in the lower gallery. They also include the octagonal cupola with its round arches, wooden voussoirs, brackets and multi-gable roof.
In contrast to the exterior, the interiors are plain. The only decorative features are Greek Revival shoulder molded doors on the ground floor, and a heavy newel post. Because the interiors are not a major source of significance, the interior modifications are of little consequence. In spite of the addition of the exterior elevator and pool shed, the front and sides of the house are not blocked or altered in any way. In any case, the galleries of the rear facade form such a strong pattern that the elevator is not obvious.
BUILDER/ARCHITECT Dr. James Scudday-Henri Thiberge
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Dansereau House is a fine example of a substantial Louisiana residence of the second half of the 19th century. This can be seen in its two story central hall plan, its surrounding galleries, and in its Italianate features. The Dansereau House is particularly noteworthy because the design incorporates a Second Empire mansard roof. The Second Empire never gained real popularity in Louisiana as it did in the North. As a result, the Dansereau House is one of a very few houses in the state with a mansard roof.
Of the historic houses in Thibodaux, the Dansereau House is by far the largest and
grandest. It stands as a well known local landmark and is visible for many blocks.
Finally, the major portion of the Dansereau House was designed by the noted New Orleans architect, Henri Thiberge, who later formed a partnership with Henry Howard. Thiberge also designed the New Orleans Real Estate Exchange and the Leather-Buck House.
The History Of The Dansereau House.
The Dansereau House - circa 1840 and 1870 - is in the national register of historic places and was developed and renovated by Jim and Joan Rogers in 1996 in conjunction with local investors. The home was first a story and a half cottage and was purchased by the Dansereau's, a group of French Canadian doctors, in 1852.
After the civil war, the Dansereau family added the upper floors and gallery. The house served as both home and clinic to several of the Dansereau family. The outdoor kitchen was used as a pharmacy.
The home is unique in that it is a combination of Italianate and second empire architecture with a mansard roof, attic and cupula.
The Dansereau's, Pierre, Hercule and François and other members of the family practiced medicine in the house until the early 1940's.
The home and grounds where lovingly restored to what it is today ... It represents a magnificent place in time ... A place to recapture the past and enjoy the present in all its glory.
Welcome To The Dansereau House.
An Open Door To Southern Hospitality.
The historic Dansereau House – our areas finest bed & breakfast and planned event facility. An open door to southern hospitality.
Dansereau House offers modern amenities in it's beautifully appointed bed & breakfast suites on the second floor surrounded by a large gallery with
chairs and plants.
Experience sipping a mint julep on the grand gallery while oaks and magnolias whisper with the passing breeze.
From the moment the doors open from the grand gallery and you are seated in one of our private dining rooms, you will savor the particular ambiance and charm of fine food and southern hospitality.
Dansereau House provides the perfect setting for weddings and receptions (our specialty), dinner parties, banquets, Mardi Gras parties, high teas, business meetings and cocktail parties. Invite your guests to experience southern hospitality at its finest and let our staff take care of your every need.
Our Rates & Contact Information
The historic Dansereau House country inn ... where southern hospitality meets modern day charm. French spoken. Commercial kitchen & lounge on premise.
Room rates $135 double occupancy with a complimentary glass of wine or cocktail and full continental breakfast.
Additional guest in room $20.00.
King and queen beds, private baths, telephone and TV in armoire.
There is a 72-hour cancellation noticed required.
Ducros Plantation House
Ducros Plantation House (c.1860) is a two story, frame, Greek Revival structure located on Bayou Terrebonne approximately one-and-one-half miles south of the town of Thibodaux. Despite some alterations, the house retains its National Register eligibility.
Ducros is two rooms deep and five rooms wide, including a wide central hall. The staircase is set in a secondary passage off the hall. The complex floor plan is indented at the front corners to permit the front gallery to wrap around and terminate flush with the side walls. The rear corners are also indented, which leads one to suspect that the original intent was to have a rear gallery similar to the monumental front gallery. But according to local tradition, the house was never completed due to the onset of the Civil War. The architectural evidence seems to support this because in contrast to the classical unity of the front, the back has a disjointed jury built look as though it were "finished up" in a hurry.
The front features eight colossal paneled columns, a full entablature, and a low parapet with a central peak. The second story gallery has a cast-iron balustrade. All front openings feature shoulder molded surrounds. In addition, the entrance doors, both upstairs and down, are accented with cornices. All other openings are plain. The movable louvre shutters appear to be original. Each of the side parapets features a central elongated tablet.
From the rear one can see the unusual roof configuration. Like many peripteral or
semi-peripteral plantation houses, Ducros faced the problem of how to get rid of water on the roof while maintaining the desired "flat top" look on the exterior. This it accomplished by having two roofing systems. Behind the parapets is a continuous inward sloping shed roof. There is also a central hip roof which adjoins the shed roof, forming an internal drainage valley.
At one time the rear had a second story gallery, but this was removed in recent years. The awkward rear gallery roof, which comes down over the upper parts of the second story windows, is evidently original.
The interiors feature a combination of Greek Revival and Rococo Revival elements.
Virtually all the doors are shoulder molded, and most of the mantels are in the conventional aedicule style.
But in the major rooms the taste is more Rococo. Both the front south parlor and the central hall have richly scrolled and foliated ceiling medallions. The front south parlor also features a white carrara marble Rococo Revival mantel and a set of pocket doors leading to a rear parlor. The rear parlor has a similar mantel but in a richly patterned brown marble. The two major rooms on the north side of the house both have black marble mantels, one Greek Revival and the other Rococo Revival. All the major first floor rooms at Ducros feature fairly elaborately molded cornices. The
upstairs rooms do not have cornices. The single flight staircase has rather thickly proportioned members, but nonetheless it appears to be original. The molding around the top of the newel is very typical of the 1850's, and the newel post itself has a paneled pattern which seems to echo the gallery columns.
Since construction there have been a number of changes made in the house. The first
group seem to reflect a renovation project undertaken in the early Terrebonne years of this century:
(1) Chair rails were added in the central hall and in a few of the other rooms.
(2) Downstairs gallery windows were replaced with French doors.
(3) A small room was added in the northwest corner of the first story.
(4) A single story kitchen wing was added in the southwest corner.
(5) A golden oak front door was added.
(6) Bathrooms and closets were installed.
(7) New front steps were built.
(8) Much of the woodwork was false grained in oak. This work has an orange cast
to it and may not be fifty years old.
More recent changes include:
(1) The previously mentioned removal of the rear second story gallery floor.
(2) The replacement of the rear gallery columns.
(3) The walling in of the staircase on the second story.
(4) The installation of a brickwork effect under the central hall chair rail.
(5) The installation of a metal sided addition to the kitchen wing.
Assessment of Integrity:
These changes are minor in comparison to the amount of important original fabric
remaining. Moreover, Ducros still retains the features which establish its identity as a Greek Revival plantation house (i.e., the form, the gallery, the previously mentioned exterior details, etc.). It also retains the features which qualify it as a superior example (see Item 8).
Contributing and Non-Contributing Elements:
(1) To the rear of the house is a contemporaneous brick shed which is listed as a
contributing element. (The roof is more recent.)
(2) To the north side of the house is a contemporaneous deteriorated brick shed. All
that remains of the building is the wall to a height of about five feet. For this reason, it is listed as a noncontributing element.
(3) Of course, the adjacent antenna tower is listed as a non-contributing element.
(4) The two metal cisterns which flank the rear of the house are listed as
non-contributing elements because they are probably not fifty years old. In any
case, they add nothing to the architectural importance of Ducros.
(5) Also located to the rear of the house is a frame garage-tractor shed. It is listed as a non-contributing element because it is probably less than fifty years old and does not contribute to the architectural significance of Ducros.
Specific dates c.1860 Builder/Architect see historical note below
Statement of Significance (in one paragraph)
Ducros Plantation House is locally significant in the area of architecture as one of the finest examples among the few surviving Greek Revival residences in Terrebonne Parish.
Terrebonne Parish developed during the first half of the nineteenth century as a center for the growing and refining of sugar. Like most of Louisiana's sugar parishes, the parish's economy boomed in the thirty years or so prior to the Civil War. As a result, during this period a large number of Greek Revival plantation houses were built which represented something of an architectural "flowering" for the parish.
The importance of Ducros within this context can be illustrated by examining the census schedules of 1860. On the eve of the Civil War, there were forty-four large slaveholdings (i.e., fifty or more slaves) in the parish. Of these, the average size per slaveholding was 115.2 and only six involved individuals who did not reside in the parish. In addition, there were undoubtedly numerous slaveholdings of less than fifty. Given the above, it is clear that there must have been numerous Greek Revival plantation houses and cottages in Terrebonne Parish on the eve of the Civil War
(probably at least sixty). However, as far as the State Historic Preservation Office can determine, there are only six remaining examples. Consequently, Ducros is of special importance in the architectural heritage of the parish.
In addition, of the six which do survive, Ducros is one of the finest. It is one of only two which possess a two story front gallery. Moreover, it has high style features seldom found on area plantation houses. These include the cast-iron balustrade and the Rococo Revival marble mantels.
Paul Stahls' Plantation Homes of the Lafourche Country reveals that there are numerous theories concerning the construction date of Ducros, with the earliest date given as 1823. For the record, the architectural evidence unquestionably indicates that Ducros is a product of the late 1850's-early '60's. The most plausible scenario given in the book attributes the construction of Ducros to the Winder family. In a 1930's interview the daughters of Van Perkins Winder said that their father died of yellow fever in 1854 and that their mother, Martha Grundy Winder, built the house
after his death.
Edward Douglass White House
Edward Douglass White was born in this simple framehouse in 1845, and he lived here until age 6, when he moved with his mother to New Orleans. Although White's father had died 4 years earlier and Mrs. White had remarried, she retained the family home and the plantation on which it stood. Eventually Edward inherited the property and operated the plantation until he died in 1921.
Thus, despite residing here only 6 years, he maintained an active, lifelong association with the dwelling. The only other known extant White residence is a 3 story, brick rowhouse at 1717 Rhode Island Avenue, NW., in Washington, D.C. White resided in that structure from 1897 to 1920. Neither the American Association for State and Local History nor the Louisiana State Art, Historical, and Cultural Preservation Agency has identified a surviving White House in New Orleans. After White's death, ownership of his plantation house was transferred, as dictated by his
will, to the Knights of Columbus. They retained the structure more than 35 years, during which time a caretaker and his family occupied it. In the late 1950's the State of Louisiana bought the house, carried on some restoration work, and made it the focal point of a State Park. Since about 1970 the Parks and Recreation Commission has repainted the dwelling's exterior siding and trim, repaired its roof, and restored its raised basement. While much of the former White acreage is still privately farmed under the name "White Plantation," the house stands on a small, approximately 6-acre, adjacent tract that is divided by Louisiana Highway 1. The nominated portion of this includes the residence and about 3 acres.
Built by slaves from hand-hewn cypress and fastened together with wooden pegs, the
1-story, rectangular-shaped, gable-roofed White House dates--according to the Louisiana State Parks and Recreation Commission--to 1790. Supported by a red brick foundation, the northeastfacing residence is sheathed with white-painted weatherboarding and sits over a raised, partial basement, whose exterior and interior brick wall are covered with white stucco. Originally dirt-floored, the basement was paved with red brick during its recent restoration. Full-length,
balustraded verandas grace both the front and rear of the three-bay wide dwelling, but the rear veranda is enclosed along the northwest one third of its length. Both verandas rest on stuccoed brick piers, are accessible via a center-placed set of wide, balustraded, board steps, and are sheltered by extensions of the roof. These overhangs gain support from beveled posts, each of which rises from the gray-painted, plank, veranda floor above a corresponding brick pier. Although originally shaked, the dwelling's northeast-southeast oriented gable roof is now covered with black asbestos shingles. Three pedimented gable dormers project from both the front and rear slopes, but due to a slight upward flare of the rear slope near its midpoint, the dormers there are shorter than their mates in front. A red brick interior chimney pier, the roof crest at each gable end, and a third interior stack rises near the southeast end of the rear slope.
All windows in the White House are rectangular sashes set in white painted wooden
surrounds. Most windows have nine-over-six lights, but those in the rear dormers have six-over-six.
Three first-story and two upper-story windows grace the southeast side of the residence; four lower and two upper adorn the northwest side; and a single window lights the first-story rear facade. In each of the three first-story front bays, a pair of glassed, French double doors opens to the interior of the dwelling. Each individual door consists of a vertical row three glass panes above a wood panel,
and each pair of doors sits wit in a shouldered architrave. A three-light transom tops the middle pair.
The center bay of the rear facade holds the only other entrance which is a single door with four vertical rows of three lights set on two good panels. At least nine small, board-and-batten doors admit to the three-room basement; the chief of these is the rearmost door opening on the southeast side. Originally light-blue-painted, louver wood shutters flanked all windows and all exterior doors except basement entrances, but recently these decorative pieces were removed for repair.
Inside, the White House follows a central-hall plan, with a spacious corridor extending from the center front door to the rear entrance Here, as throughout, the residence retains its original pegged cypress floors. The recently refinished walls and ceilings consist of plaster on wood sheathing and are painted in various pastel shades. Baseboards are plain and painted black; door and window frames are painted gray. The furnishings are period pieces of the years 1830 to 1860.
Only one White piece remains: a massive carved armoire, part of the wedding dowry of White's mother.
On the first floor, two rooms lie right of the hallway and two left, and each is accessible through a single door from the corridor. Both rooms on the right display pale yellow walls. The front one, which holds a brick, stucco-faced fire-place with plain, asymmetrical, black-painted, wood mantel, served the Whites as a parlor; the rear chamber, connected to the front one by double sliding doors, was the White dining room. Rear of it, in the enclosed portion of the rear veranda and accessible only from that porch, is the pantry. Both compartments left of the central hall were
bedrooms. Each has blue painted walls and a fireplace and mantel similar to the one in the parlor.
Near the center of the first-story hall, a single-flight, openstring, balustraded and railed stairway rises rear-to-front along the right wall to the second floor. The area underneath the staircase is enclosed, but an end-placed door opens onto a single flight of steps that descend to the basement. On the upper story are two bedrooms, both of which are painted light green. The left room contains a fire place and mantel similar to those downstairs.
Formerly, slave quarters stood rear of the White House, but now the only outbuilding--other than two small, modern restrooms in traditional-looking outhouses--is a one-story, rectangular-shaped, gable-roofed, beige-painted, frame caretaker's cottage of undetermined origin.
Live oak and other trees and a well-maintained expanse of lawn complete the setting.
SPECIFIC DATES 1845 - 1921
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
In his 27 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, Edward Douglass White had, according to
historian James F. Watts, Jr., a "major influence on the nature of American civilization" which has been "too little realized.” Shortly after assuming the post of Chief Justice, White in the 1911 Standard Oil and American Tobacco cases persuaded the Court to accept the "rule of reason" in regard to enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Actually, this question of reasonableness, says historian Arthur S. Link, was the "only standard by which the antitrust law could be enforced" and it "enabled businesses to conduct normal operations without fear of reprisal, and the government to enforce the statute in good conscience." Yet, in the long run, White's ruling, according to constitutional historians Alfred H. Kelly and Winfred A. Harbison, made it "virtually impossible to prosecute any great trust successfully, for almost any monopoly could put up a plausible argument
for social responsibility and thus claim to be a 'reasonable' combination." Thus, the "rule of reason" helps to explain, says historian James F. Watts, Jr., "the paradox of a nation whose ethic deplores monopoly and prizes self sufficiency yet promote oligopoly and practices economic dependence."
White first distinguished himself in the 1901-5 Insular Cases concerning the status of the territories the United States had recently acquired as a result of the war with Spain. It was White, says constitutional historian Loren P. Beth, who developed the doctrine "that conquered territory did not become a part of the United States constitutionally unless Congress passed legislation incorporating it.”
Edward Douglass White was born in this simple framehouse in 1845, and he lived here until age 6, when he moved with his mother to New Orleans. Although White's father had died 4 years earlier and Mrs. White had remarried, she retained the family home and the plantation on which it stood. Eventually Edward inherited the property and operated the plantation until he died in 1921.
Thus, despite residing here only 6 years, he maintained an active, lifelong association with the dwelling. It has been restored and is in good condition.
Edward Douglass White, Jr. was born November 3, 1845, in Lafourche Parish La., to
Edward and Catherine White. Edward, Sr., who had beer a Louisiana Congressman and Governor, died when young White was 2, and when his mother remarried 4 years later, she sent him to a convent school in New Orleans where he received his basic education. In 1858 White attended Mount Saint Mary's, a Jesuit preparatory school in Emmitsburg, Md., and the following year entered Georgetown College in Washington, D.C. Shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, White returned to New Orleans and studied briefly at Jesuit College. At the age of 16, he joined the Confederate Army as a private, serving as aide de camp to various officers. In 1863 he was taken
prisoner at the fall of Fort Hudson but was eventually paroled.
After the war White read law under the guidance of distinguished attorney Edward
Bermudez and won admission to the bar in 1868. Already financially comfortable because of his considerable holdings in sugar plantations, White settled in New Orleans where he practiced his profession and became increasingly involved in Democratic politics. Closely identified with Democratic Redeemer Francis T. Nicholls, White in 1874 won election to the State Senate. Shortly after Nicholls won the governorship, he appointed White to the Louisiana Supreme Court where he
served from January 1879 to April 1880. His tenure was cut short when supporters of the Louisiana Lottery, which he and Nicholls opposed, won approval of a new constitution which shortened the Governor's term of office and reconstituted the State Supreme Court.
For the next few years, White concentrated on his law practice and his sugar interests. In 1888 he managed ex-Governor Nicholls successful gubernatorial campaign against Republican Henry Clay Warmoth, who was backed by proponents of the Lottery. Three years later, the Louisiana Legislature elected White to the U.S. Senate where he supported President Grover Cleveland on all issues except tariff reform. In 1894 White became the beneficiary of the feud between President Cleveland and New York Senator David B. Hill. After the death of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Blatchford of New York, the President tried to appoint another New Yorker in his stead, but Hill, by invoking senatorial courtesy, defeated two Cleveland nominees from the State.
Finally, Cleveland in order to end the wrangling and win quick confirmation selected White for the post.
Edward Douglas White
On March 12, 1894, the Louisianan was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the U.S.
Supreme Court. In 1910 President William Howard Taft, who according to White biographer Howard Lee McBain was "probably influenced by his desire to break the 'Solid South' politically," elevated White to the Chief Justiceship, making him the first Associate Justice to be promoted to this position.
During his 27 years on the Court, White wrote the decisions in more than 700 cases.
Although moderately conservative in his views he showed, according to distinguished constitutional historian Paul L. Murphy, "a clear concern for the welfare of labor and labor unions” and unlike many of his colleagues who consistently upheld property rights, he believed that "property's sacredness was clearly qualified when curtailment of its freedom was in the public interest." White first distinguished himself in the 1901-5 Insular Cases regarding the status of the territories the United States had recently acquired as a result of the war with Spain. It was White, says historian Loren Beth, who developed the doctrine "that conquered territory did not become a part of the United States constitutionally unless Congress passed legislation incorporating it."
White made his greatest impact on American constitutional law in the 1911 Standard Oil and American Tobacco cases when he persuaded the Supreme Court to accept the "rule of reason" in regard to enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Since his dissent in the Trans-Missouri Case in 1897, White had been the foremost advocate of reasonableness, and his 1911 triumph, says historian James F. Watts, Jr., "permanent dulled the cutting edges of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act" and even today provides the "ill-defined guidelines for the legal relationship between the federal government and the oligopolies which dominate American business."9 Actually, this question of reasonableness, say historian Arthur S. Link, was the "only standard by which the anti-trust law could be enforced" Yet, in the long run, White's ruling according to constitutional historians Alfred H. Kelly and Winfred A. Harbison, made it "virtually impossible to prosecute any great trust successfully, for almost any monopoly could put up a plausible argument for social responsibility and thus claim to be a reasonable combination."
White remained Chief Justice until his death in Washington, D.C. on May 19, 1921, at the age of 75.
On December 15, 1850, the bell at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Thibodaux, was blessed as " Maria". The Godfather was Jean (Pierre) Webre and the godmother was the widow E. D. White. These two persons paid for the bell – (which cost $500.00) The bell weight 1200 pounds (French weight) The ceremony was conducted by the Rev. Father J. Francis Abbadie, Jesuit the Pastor of St. Michael’s Parish, Convent, Louisiana.
This particular church bell was in the original St. Joseph Church that was located along Bayou Lafourche. The church was destroyed by fire in May of 1916. The bells were moved to the existing church located on Canal Blvd.
The Frost House is located on a narrow but deep, well-landscaped lot in a historic residential neighborhood of Thibodaux, the seat of Lafourche Parish. Standing on tall brick piers, the one-and-one-half story frame residence is an example of the Colonial Revival style. Although the house has experienced some alteration since attaining its current form c. 1916 (see the following paragraph), it retains its original architectural character and its National Register eligibility.
When the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation submitted a multiple property nomination for Thibodaux in 1986, the Frost House was omitted because locals mentioned that it had been significantly altered.
This comment was based upon the knowledge that the residence was originally a three-story house. However, the LASHPO has now learned that the house has existed in its current one-and-one-half story form for at least 92 years. According to the current resident, a descendant of original owner H. W. Frost, workers rushed the three-story house to completion in 1912 so that the terminally ill Frost could die in his new home. He succumbed to his illness shortly after occupying the residence. Within a relatively short time, Mrs. Frost decided to reduce the structure’s size because she did not want such a large house and the roof leaked. The remodeling (which kept the lower story and much of its architectural elements intact) had been completed by 1916, no more than four years after the home’s original construction. Because it attained its current size, shape, and appearance very early in its history and has appeared thus for the vast majority of the historic period, the Frost House should be considered a c. 1916 building and merits National Register evaluation as such.
Despite having experienced a reduction in size, the c. 1916 Frost House is still a large residence and assumes a commanding presence on the street. The raised house is deeper than it is wide. Its massing is that of a large, rectangular and symmetrical galleried house with a big dormer facing the front. Colonial Revival style characteristics associated with the Frost House include:
1) a full-length, three bay gallery featuring fluted Tuscan columns rising from square plinths to fully developed Tuscan capitals composed of necking, neck molding, echinus, and abacus.
2) a full entablature outlining the gallery. The entablature’s frieze is unornamented except for thin bands of molding along its upper and lower edge. Its architrave and overhanging cornice are both subdivided into two narrow bands. The bands within the architrave appear to be formed of narrow boards applied in a corbelled manner. Those on the cornice are formed by the application of moldings.
3) corner boards composed of fluted pilasters and Tuscan capitals similar to those outlining the gallery. Nearby, tall molded panels serve as corner boards for the side elevations.
4) the treatment of the entrance area, where additional pilasters flank a recessed doorway. These pilasters are smooth rather than fluted, and their capitals are more restrained than those on the corner boards. Within the recessed space, a single, six-panel door centered beneath a three-panel transom opens into the house. Long, narrow sidelights flank this door.
5) three pediments composed of raking cornices and heavy horizontal cornices. These are found above the front facing dormer and above projecting polygonal bays on each side elevation. The tympanum of each pediment contains an applied triangular shaped panel pierced by a small fanlight.
6) the balustrades on the gallery and the interior stairway. That on the gallery is composed of sets of intersecting members that resemble a starburst. That of the interior staircase features turned balusters and a molded and paneled newel-post surmounted by a sculptural urn. Although the majority of the home’s ornament is Colonial Revival, all of the original windows except the previously mentioned small fanlights contain upper sashes vertically subdivided in a manner suggestive of the
On the interior, the first floor plan is organized around a center hall with three rooms on each side. The outside walls of the middle rooms take the form of long but shallow polygonal bays. The staircase to the second floor is located at the rear of the central hall. The first floor features back-to-back corner fireplaces in the front and middle rooms of the home’s right side, additional back-to-back fireplaces centered on the wall between the front and middle rooms on the opposite side, paneled doors accompanied by operable transoms, and a set of pocket doors (also paneled). The upper level had three rooms (one facing the front and one facing each side) and a large attic. Doors to two of these rooms also have transoms. Changes to this level will be discussed below.
The house has experienced some alteration since achieving its c. 1916 appearance. On the exterior the only change was the replacement of the original wooden gallery stairs with one built of brick. On the interior of the first floor, the changes include the construction of a built-in bookcase in the right front room, the addition of closets in two rooms, the replacement (due to loss) of all the mantels, the modernization of the kitchen, the installation of a modern wainscot in the dining room, and the enclosure of both sides of the back gallery (the middle remains open) to create a utility/sunroom with large plate glass windows on one side and a bathroom on the other. On the second level, the wall of the original bedroom on the front corner was moved outward to create more space, an additional bedroom and a bathroom were added, and part of the attic was opened up to create a playroom.
The above changed do not negatively impact the integrity of the house. The brick staircase leading to the gallery does not obscure any of the important Colonial Revival features that contribute to the home’s architectural significance. Also, the expanded second level bedroom is not visible on the exterior, and the altered rear gallery is not visible from the front. As one of the very few landmark examples of post-Queen Anne, early twentieth century design in the community of Thibodaux, and as an excellent example of a Colonial Revival style house, the Frost House is a legitimate candidate for National Register listing.
A large, one-story brick carport/patio also stands on the property. Its roof takes a hipped configuration on one end and a gabled shape on the other. Although located only a few feet from the historic home’s rear wall, the two buildings do not touch. They are connected by a short covered walkway. Modern in age and appearance, this structure is clearly a non-contributing element.
Significant Dates: c. 1916
State Significance of Property, and Justify Criteria, Criteria Considerations, and Areas and Periods of Significance Noted Above.
The Frost House is locally significant under Criterion C: Architecture. The context for evaluation is the town of Thibodaux in Lafourche Parish. The house’s importance is based upon two factors. First, it is an excellent example of the Colonial Revival style and the transition that occurred between the style’s earliest interpretation and later incarnation. Second, it is a rare landmark in a community that has very little post-Queen Anne Revival, early-twentieth-century residential architecture.
Thibodaux, with a population of about 14,431 in 2000, is the seat of government for the large rural parish of Lafourche (1,141 square miles). It is located on the banks of Bayou Lafourche, a waterway that branches off the Mississippi River at Donaldsonville in Ascension Parish and runs through the length of Assumption and Lafourche parishes before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The town bears the name of Henry Schuyler Thibodaux, who settled in the area around 1801. Originally named Thibodauxville, the community became the parish seat in 1808, incorporated in 1830, and was well established by the Civil War.
The town owes its historical importance to agriculture (most especially the cultivation of sugar cane), the availability of steamboats and railroads for transporting passengers and freight, and its role as a commercial center for the surrounding territory. By 1892 it had a population of 1900, and by 1907 this figure had jumped to 4300. The present building stock as well as other available evidence indicates that the years from c.1890 to c.1910 (an era of great sugar production) were particularly prosperous ones for Thibodaux.
Lafourche Parish Courthouse
The Lafourche Parish Courthouse is located in the city of Thibodaux in the northern portion of the parish. The courthouse is set on a small city block 150 feet to each side. It is bordered to the north by W. 2nd Street, to tile south by W. 3rd Street, to the east by Maronge Street and to the west by Green Street, which serves as its entrance. The immediate neighborhood is characterized by low-scale government and commercial buildings.
The heavy masonry central block dates from 1858, but was significantly remodeled about 1903. This remodeling included the addition of the facade treatment, the portico, and thesquare-domed roof structures. In the twentieth century, 4 wings have been appended to the old square courthouse leaving only the west facade, with its portico, exposed. In 1959 the interior of the old 1858 courthouse was remodeled. The cross corridor plan and the unexposed walls are all that survive of the original courthouse building.
The building is constructed of masonry sheathed in stucco.
The architecturally significant aspect of the building is its exterior. The exterior design of the original portion, which dates from 1903, was inspired by the influence of the Beaux Arts. This can be seen in its overly heavy combination of classical and Baroque elements--its massive concrete Roman Doric portico and in its five square Baroque domes. A large central dome rises from a high square drum and is crowned by a square parapet with a central oval medallion on each side. This motif is in turn surmounted by a second square dome. The oval medallion parapet motif forms the
base for each of the four smaller ancillary square domes. Each dome is sheathed in copper.
Together the five domes enliven the skyline of the courthouse considerably.
Pains were taken to articulate the twentieth century wings in a classical style. The north and south wings have colossal order pilasters and pedimented ends. Like the facade of the old portion, these wings are ornamented with festoons. The cast and southeast wings are more simply articulated.
SPECIFIC DATES c.1858-1862
BUILDER/ARCHITECT Favrot and Livaudais(1903)
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Lafourche Parish Courthouse has significance in the areas of architecture and
politics/government. The Lafourche Parish Courthouse, the tallest structure in the city, is a local landmark in Thibodaux. It is aggressively monumental in its use of heavy classical and Baroque elements. The combination of bulbous square domes enlivens the skyline and gives a grand pictorial effect which reflects the taste of the late 19th century Beaux Arts, as does the massive portico. Although the courthouse does not represent a sophisticated design, it makes the big, broad gesture which was so much a part of Beaux Arts architecture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It also makes a strong statement about the importance of its role in the community and the parish. In addition it represents, as few government buildings in Louisiana do, a major tendency toward the use of the Beaux Arts style in government buildings around the turn of the century.
This Classical Revival courthouse was built in 1856 making it one of Louisiana's four functioning Antebellum courthouses. It was designed by the firm of Favrot & Livaudais, which continued to design parish courthouse well into the 20th century.
As the second oldest courthouse in Louisiana still used for parochial purposes, the
Lafourche Parish Courthouse possesses significance in the area of politics/government. The City of Thibodaux has been the seat of parish government since 1808. At that time the parish began using as its courthouse a one-story frame structure located at the intersection of Green and Second Streets. But in 1818, Henry Schuyler Thibodaux, the founder of Thibodaux and of the parishes of Lafourche and Terrebonne, donated a 140-foot square tract of land (the site of the present
courthouse) to the parish on the condition that the police jury exempt his hotel and billiard hall from taxes. On this site, the parish erected a three-room courthouse measuring 25 by 40 feet. Later, in 1846, a two-story structure was built, but within fifteen years it was replaced by the present building.
Meeting in September, 1852, the Lafourche Parish Police Jury passed a resolution providing that "three members be named to. . . the Building Committee which committee shall cause plans and specifications to be made for the building of a neat and commodious (sic) Court House in the town of Thibodaux the cost of the said Court House not to exceed Fifteen Thousand dollars. Police jurors named to the committee included John Lyall, F. Michel, and A. B. Thibodaux. Construction began on the building around 1858 and was completed before 1862.
During the twentieth century there have been several major additions to the structure. The first of these came in 1903 under the direction of the architectural firm Favrot and Livaudais. Two wings were added to the Third and Maronge street sides, and the copper domes were added to the Third and Maronge street sides, and the copper domes were added to the roof. In addition, a concrete portico similar but heavier than the one on the Second Street side was erected on the Green Street side. In 1951 the police jury supervised the adding of another wing on Maronge Street, and in 1958 it removed the building's original front and portico, replacing them with yet another wing. As a result of this latest renovation, carried out by J. B. Talley and Co. under the direction of local Thibodaux architect Fernand Picou, the Green Street entrance became the front of the courthouse.
Over the years the courthouse has been the focal point of political activities within Lafourche Parish. U. S. Senator Henry Clay purportedly visited the courthouse while in Thibodaux sometime in the 1840's. But more than casual visitors to the building included the Episcopalian Bishop Leonidas L. Polk (the “Fighting Bishop" of the Confederacy) and Confederate General Braxton Bragg, both of whom owned nearby sugar plantations.
The Lefort House (c.1855) is a one-and-one-half story Greek Revival style cottage located two miles east of the city of Thibodaux in Lafourche Parish.
The setting is essentially semi-rural. The house faces, but is separated from, Bayou Lafourche by Highway 1 and is sited immediately adjacent to the Southern Pacific
Railroad line. It was built in two stages. It began as a small, c. 1840 cottage that was connected to a newly built and larger Greek Revival style cottage around 1855. Thus, the house is being considered as an 1855 building for the purposes of this nomination. Despite some alterations, overall the house retains its National
Archival research has determined that the Lefort family built the (front) Greek Revival style house roughly a decade or so after the property’s previous owner completed the smaller dwelling. Lefort is a raised frame cottage on brick piers about four feet above the ground. The house is constructed with cypress wood framing and has wood weatherboard cladding on all sides. The side-gabled cottage has a corrugated tin roof with exposed chimneys perforating the ends of each gable.
The facade features a simple full entablature that wraps the front gallery and is supported by six simple square columns. The columns have simple molded capitals. Pilasters, identical to the columns, are located at either end of the façade and serve as corner boards. The gallery has simple square balusters in the railing. This five bay façade is articulated with a central front door that has a seven light transom and four light sidelights on each side of a four-panel wood door. French doors with three light transoms and operable louvered shutters (fixed panel below) are located on either side of the front door for a symmetrical fenestration pattern.
The windows are six-over-six lights throughout with operable louvered shutters
attached. On each side of the house, French doors with transom and sidelights are also located at the point where the earlier house is attached to the later one.
On the interior the central hall is flanked on either side by two rooms (one in front of the other). The hall measures seven feet wide and has simple horizontal board wainscoting that runs the length of the hallway. The wainscoting is met at the other end of the hall by a four-panel wood door with transom and sidelights identical to those on the façade. The front parlors of the Lefort House have simple Greek Revival style mantels that are original to the house. The second rooms on either side of the hall do not have fireplaces. All rooms on the lower floor of the c. 1855 portion of the house have plaster walls. The interior four-panel doors boast a faux bois finish, which simulates the look of rich grained wood. The attic space has an exposed chimney and is very non-descript. Currently, it is used as a bedroom/storage area. Access to the attic is obtained by a steep staircase located behind a door at the rear of the central hall. The earlier (rear) wood frame portion of the house is one room deep and two rooms wide. There is an original working brick
fireplace on the east side of one room.
Since its completion, the following changes have been made to the Lefort House:
1. In the c. 1855 Greek Revival portion, the second room on the west (right) side was converted into a bathroom with a ceramic tile floor.
2. In the c. 1840 portion, the present owner shifted removed some walls to add a kitchen, small bathroom, and pantry in one room; shifted a wall in the other room, replaced a stolen mantel (although the brick fireplace is original), and added new wood floors.
3. The wooden shake shingles covering both portions of the house were replaced with a tin roof around the 1940s.
4. The present owner also added a large carport to the property on the east side. It connects to the house via a breezeway.
Assessment of Integrity:
Despite the above changes, the house retains the essential features that establish its identity as a Greek Revival cottage. On the interior the changes are minor. The historic floor plan and its plaster walls, interior faux bois doors, and mantels are still in place. In addition to this, the original openings are still extant. On the
exterior, the 1855 house retains its historic appearance. The large carport is positioned on the east side close to the rear of the lot and does not detract from the house because it is basically shielded by vegetation. The Greek Revival house is highly visible on Highway 1 and remains a fine representation of that style. This
identity, of course, is the basis for its significance.
Significant Dates: c. 1855
State Significance of Property, and Justify Criteria, Criteria Considerations, and Areas and Periods of Significance Noted Above.
As a rare example of the pre-Queen Anne Revival taste within Lafourche Parish, the Lefort House is locally significant in the area of architecture under Criterion C:
Design & Construction. Although this style must have once been quite common, survey data indicates that Lefort is one of a limited number of surviving houses which retain a strong, unaltered Greek Revival style with sufficient integrity to merit National Register listing.
Lafourche is one of Louisiana's earliest settled parishes. It was originally created in 1805, although settlement by immigrants from Spain, Germany, England, France and the Canary Islands began much earlier.
Despite the parish's age, staff knowledge of the area indicates that the architectural patrimony of this mostly rural parish consists primarily of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Queen Anne style houses; bungalows; nondescript cottages and quarters houses; and twentieth century shotguns, outbuildings and commercial buildings. The loss of the parish's older architectural patrimony, which would have consisted of examples of the French Creole and Greek Revival styles, was the result of a new round of prosperity caused by, among other things, the re-emergence of the sugar industry at the end of the nineteenth century.
At that time many of the region's older buildings were replaced with structures reflecting the popular styles of the late Victorian era.
To understand the magnitude of the parish's architectural loss and the importance of the pre-Queen Anne Revival style buildings that remain, one needs to have some idea of the numbers of these structures that once existed. Although exact numbers are not available, certain generalizations can be made given the settlement patterns of the parish. It was the French who first dominated the area architecturally; their
ascendancy lasted until approximately 1820. Thus, it is fair to assume that Lafourche Parish once had a large number of French Creole buildings. The parish is currently being re-surveyed because its first review, completed in 1979, provided only partial coverage and is quite out-of-date. However, because this original
survey covered all of Lafourche Parish's significant population centers and high probability sites, its findings can be taken as indicative of the entire parish's surviving Creole patrimony. The survey covered 1,100 of the approximately 3,000 historic structures now thought to exist in the parish and showed a total of 142 buildings reflecting some Creole influence. However, at that time less than ten (or one percent) survived with enough stylistic features or historic integrity to merit their identification as genuine Creole cottages. The overwhelming majority of the buildings identified as reflecting Creole influence were quarters houses which
were "Creole" only in that they exhibited the general massing (umbrella roof and full facade gallery) of a Creole structure. It is quite probable that the new survey will show a number of these Creole-influenced buildings to have been lost in the past eighteen years.
After the 1820s the American Greek Revival style began to influence building patterns in Lafourche Parish. This influence would grow and then last until long after the end of the Civil War. Some idea of the importance of the style can be gained by examining the census schedules of 1860. On the eve of the Civil
War, there were thirty-seven large slave holdings (i.e., fifty or more slaves) in the parish. Of these, the average size per slave holding was 104.3 and only two involved individuals who did not reside in the parish.
In addition, there were undoubtedly numerous slave holdings of less than 50. Given this information, it is fair to assume that there must have been numerous Greek Revival influenced plantation houses (probably at least 30), as well as a number of Greek Revival institutional and commercial buildings, in Lafourche Parish on the
eve of the Civil War. Some of these examples would have been fairly large, while others would have been considered moderate or even small in size. However, few examples of the style survive today. Staff and the surveyor's knowledge of the parish indicate that of the approximately 3,000 buildings 50 years of age or older, only seven are substantial examples of the Greek Revival style. It is fair to assume that many of the smaller examples, which once survived, are also now lost. Sadly, the almost completed new parish survey so far confirms this assumption.
Against this background, the importance of the Lefort House emerges. Despite the unfinished condition of the parish historic structures survey, it is evident that French Creole and Greek Revival style buildings make up only approximately one percent of the historic structures surviving within Lafourche Parish. This makes the house, although a small and restrained example, part of a very limited collection of
buildings representing the parish's pre-Queen Anne Revival taste. Thus, the Lefort House is a legitimate candidate for National Register listing.
The Boutary family built the earlier structure during the 1840s and resided there until they lost the house in a sheriff’s sale in 1854. An inventory of their estate shows that Anton Boutary was in the lumber, cattle and sugar business.
Pierce Lefort acquired the property at the 1854 sheriff’s sale. It was around this time that he had the main house constructed. The location of the earlier house, immediately adjacent to the Southern Pacific Railroad line, was probably one of the main reasons the Lefort’s purchased the land. According to research, the Leforts operated a big store on one corner of this property. Lefort also opened a store in Lockport. Pierce had a son, Joseph, who married Cecile Lirette in 1868. Pierce and Cecile had a daughter by the name of Lillie Lefort, who died in the house in 1969. After Lillie died, the house went to a niece until around 1985.
In that year, J. Paul Leslie and family acquired the property. The Leslie family remains the current owner.
Nicholls Jr Col Main Building
A restrained example of the Classical Revival style, the Main Building of Francis T. Nicholls Junior College (now Nicholls State University) is a two-story brick structure with a one-story rear wing. It stands within the outskirts of the Lafourche Parish seat of Thibodaux at the head of a broad, sweeping lawn which borders Bayou Lafourche and Louisiana Hwy 1. Although the buildings rear elevation and interior have received alterations, the facade looks remarkably as it did when the facility was completed in 1948. Thus, the structures National Register eligibility remains intact.
Designed by the firm of Favrot and Reed, the building exhibits several Classical architectural elements articulated in concrete. The most pronounced is the treatment of the main entrance as a temple.
It features a large pediment with a raking denticulated cornice. Below the pediment is an entablature with a denticulated cornice and a wide frieze where the words C. C. Elkins Hall indicate the building's modern name. Four colossal pillars with Corinthian capitals, necking and molded bases give the appearance of supporting the entablature and pediment. The latter is pierced by a large oculus decorated by voussoirs. Behind the temple front the facade features a door with an aedicule style surround. (This motif also ornaments the doors on each side of the building.) The surround is surmounted by a window featuring shoulder molding. Shoulder molding also highlights the first story windows which flank the door.
The two other second level windows behind the temple front feature simpler yet still prominent lintels.
Also of interest on the facade is the decoration of pavilion-like elements located on each end of the building. Treated identically, each pavilion features two pairs of colossal pilasters with Doric capitals and necking. The pilasters support an entablature almost as bold as that on the temple front, except that the former lacks the dentil treatment found on the latter. Although not of Classical derivation, the
treatment of the brick on the end "pavilions" is also of interest. It is laid in a pattern which creates two panels, one above the other. The entablatures of the temple front and pavilion-like elements are joined by a more narrow entablature which encircles the building and is abutted by the top portions of the second
The plans of both floors are organized around long hallways which bisect the building horizontally.
Except for the installation of an elevator in the hall space immediately opposite the main entrance and the removal of student lockers which once lined them, these hallways remain open and intact. However, with only one or two exceptions, the large classrooms and offices which once filled the building on either side of the halls have been subdivided to create a larger number of small offices. A modest addition to one side of the one-story rear wing and the building of crosswalks connecting the side entrances to newer structures nearby are the only alterations to the exterior. Thus, former students who attended Francis T. Nicholls Junior College during its opening term would easily recognize the Main Building should they return to the campus today. As the symbol of the coming of age of higher education in the Lafourche
region, the building is a strong candidate for National Register listing.
Significant Date: 1948
Architect/Builder: Architect: Favrot and Reed
Rienzi Plantation House
Located on the east bank of Bayou Lafourche in Thibodaux, The Rienzi Plantation house is built, according to legend, as a possible refuge for Queen Maria Louisa, Consort of Charles IV of Spain during this turbulent time in Spanish history. She prevails in the civil war and in 1803 the plantation is purchased by Juan Ygnacio de Egana who had been a representative of Maria Louisa. Later an Italian is said to have owned the plantation and named it after a fourteenth century Italian patriot Cola de Rienzi. The house has two intersecting center halls on each floor. One of the halls on the lower floor was originally a carriage-way through the center of the house, but has been closed in since the 1850s. Most of the details are atypical of this period of Louisiana architecture , such as the double exterior stairs in front that gracefully curve for part of their ascent away from the gallery.
By Geoffrey Stoute Staff Writer
The renovation of the Rienzi Plantation and the construction of the future campus of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute on the property are still in the early stages due to a lack of sufficient funds, Mike Davis, assistant vice president for business affairs for procurement and physical plant operations, said.
"The process is still going on," Davis said. "There are on-going fundraising efforts. Normally, you'll have to have the money in hand or firm commitments before you proceed. Once you begin programming rooms, you have to have money in there."
Davis said the designs have been made for the outside of the building and some layouts for rooms inside the building such as the bathroom and classrooms.
He said right now the University is trying to bring in a historical architect to look at the house. He said the first things that need to be done are an asbestos survey, a lead paint survey and the redoing of the electrical service. Also an air conditioning system needs to be installed.
Randy Cheramie, chef/lecturer in the culinary institute, said the new wiring, air conditioning and plumbing would exhaust the $750,000 that was provided from the state through an appropriations committee.
After the asbestos and lead paint surveys and electrical service is redone, the University will look at the steps necessary to restore the rest of the rooms. Davis said the plans for the house would have some impact on how renovations are conducted.
As far as the plans for the main house and the rest of the plantation, Davis said they are not set in stone.
"I don't think those are formal plans yet," he said. "There are groups of people getting together to suggest possible uses of the home and those will be passed on to the University. We need to take a look at it and study it. When you restore this house you need to restore it for the best uses."
Davis said it's possible the house could be used as a museum, but it could also be used for other purposes as well.
The plantation is also planned to house the Ruth U. Fertel Culinary Arts Building, the future home of the culinary arts institute.
The building will be named for the late Ruth Fertel, owner of Ruth Chris Steakhouse, who Cheramie said decided to pledge a total of $1.2 million before her death. The campus on which the school will be located will be known as the Levert Campus.
Cheramie said the reason the University decided to relocate the culinary arts institution to this plantation was because Gouaux Hall was intended to be a biology building. He also said the department has grown over the past few years.
"When I was here as an adjunct in 1999, we had around 60 majors," he said. "Now (in 2005), we're going to have over 300. We go out and have 15 to 20 percent increases every fall."
The solution to the culinary arts school's lack of space might not be moving it to the Rienzi Plantation, according to Cheramie.
"Rienzi was donated to the Nicholls State University Foundation by the Levert family with the hope that we would maintain the property," Cheramie said. "We started to realize the infrastructure that we would need for plans we had that the property was too small. We realized that, and we would have to start sacrificing property in the form of cutting down trees."
Cheramie said cutting down the trees would break the agreement the University had with the Levert family in terms of maintaining the property.
Cheramie said a possible site for a culinary school could be the land on La. Hwy 1, which is part of the land for the proposed recreation center, which the state is negotiating.
As far as what the Fertel Building will look like, Davis said the plans he saw featured a main building and other structures.
"They talked about the replica of an overseer's cottage and a replica of where they boiled the syrup. (There is a possible reconstruction of) a replica of the African House at Melrose Plantation in Natchitoches, La."
Cheramie said the University hopes to get the building under one roof, but that will depend on where the building is built.
In terms of the designing of the building thus far, Davis said there have been some preliminary drawings, but no interior drawings.
As far as how much all that is planned for the culinary arts institute will cost, Cheramie said he has heard $12 million as of late.
St. John`s Episcopal Church and Cemetery
The September 29, 1843 contract recorded in the courthouse of the Parish of Lafourche
Interior, State of Louisiana, between Absalom Kees and James Frost, house builders, and the Building Committee of St. John's Episcopal Church refers to the erection of the building "on a site adjoining Thibodaux''. Today St. John's, located on its original site, faces a busy thoroughfare in the heart of the town. The church and its 3.3 acre property with historic cemetery and old oaks is visually set apart by streets which borders the site on four sides.
The original contract leaves little doubt that the building as designed and constructed was in the Greek Revival style, with accommodations to usage, available local building materials and Southern climatic requirements. The structure is still predominantly Greek Revival, although alterations and additions dating prior to 1867 or 1868 have diluted this feeling somewhat with the introduction of arched windows on the enclosed portico and the cupola.
Constructed of solid brick walls, the structure is built on a rectangular plan of thirty-six feet width, by sixty-two feet depth. Wood framing consists of conventional roof construction with square iron nails at roof and at floor. Floors are of random width cypress with joists over sills on masonry piers.
The, 1843 contract railed for a portico of twelve feet to be included in the depth of sixty-two feet. The original prostyle building was modified somewhat in 1856 when the portico was enclosed to create a vestibule with stairway leading to a choir gallery above.
The entrance, which is to the east, is flanked by four pilasters and surmounted by a
pedimented gable end with raking wood cornice and a copper domed wood belfry which rises above.
The west end terminates in a parapet wall with double chimneys.
All wood trim, predominately cypress, is painted white, both exterior and interior.
Pilasters surround the building on three sides, as does a cornice with dentils. The front entrance is surrounded with a heavy architrave and above the door is a cast iron grill. Two arched windows on the front contrast with the square-headed windows on the sides.
Five specific references in the contract are made to the "plan by Bishop [Leonidas K.] Polk."
A reference to the "style of Lafever" suggests that he may have used one of the builders' guides by Minard Lefever. Charles F. Hawley is mentioned as executing a design for a specific detail.
As described in the contract and as actually erected, the walls were to be eighteen inches thick, twenty five feet high above ground, and to be "laid in good lime mortar, made with the ordinary sand of the country except for the outside course which is to be laid with mortar made with sharp sand."
Pilasters on each side of the building were utilized "to give strength to the walls".
While the contract specified a cypress shingle roof, apparently slate was substituted, for in his address to the annual convention of the Diocese of Louisiana in June of 1844, Bishop Polk states that the building was "covered with slate". Slate of a size fitting the specifications for the cypress shingles can still be found on the church grounds. The slate roof was removed in 1940 and replaced with hard asbestos shingles.
The roof was to be so framed "that it will receive a cupola.... according to the Plan originally proposed by Bishop Polk". The builders apparently anticipated a problem with rain seeping through this cupola, as sheet lead flooring was used. The bell was presented to the church in 1855 and it is possible that the cupola was not actually constructed until this time, or that renovations were required to enlarge and raise the cupola to accommodate the bell, which would account for splicing of timbers which is evident at the roof line.
The contract specifics "The front of the Church to be built with a pediment supported on four columns, cornice to extend across the front and back ends and on each side with a raking cornice to correspond; the front to be finished on the doric (sic) order, the front door in accordance with the plan of Bishop Polk".
The portico was to have a floor laid in brick, "the steps for ascending...to go all round the portico and to be painted in imitation of stone or granite. In June of 1856, a new front was built to the church which required enclosing the portico to accommodate a vestibule and choir gallery above.
To the right, as one enters the vestibule, is a curved stairway leading to the choir gallery. The stair is extremely simple, well constructed, with a comfortable riser ratio and a walnut handrail above turned balusters.
Double interior entrance doors with flat recessed panels open into the church proper.
The original contract called for a music gallery across the interior front of the church, supported by two fluted columns ten feet high, with an "appropriate architrave entablature and cornice, with two stairways at each end of said gallery with banister and railing to correspond to the finish of the pews."
The stairs were removed in the 1856 renovation and the music gallery modified at that time. Splices on the opposing side window frames give some indication of the depth of the original gallery, now modified to a smaller cantilevered balcony, reached by the vestibule stairway.
The windows are triple hung 12/12/12 glass lights, with check rail and pulley and weight sash balances. The windows have operating exterior wood louver shutters with leaf and pin hinges, barrel bolts and pivoted pin type, shutter dogs.
The original contract called for an architrave above the windows on the interior, "Similar to the style of Lafever." Subsequent covering of the interior plaster walls with vertical wood boards may have modified this treatment, but a simple Lafever inspired architrave is still discernible.
The original walnut capped cypress pews with recessed paneled sides are still in use in the church. Kneeling benches are built in an immovable position between up and down. The pews were painted white sometime after 1894 but the walnut trim was left natural.
The walls of vertical beaded boards have lower boards terminated at the level of the window sill with a wainscot cap moulding. At the chancel wall, this wainscoting consists of flat recessed paneling, which strongly suggests that this paneled portion, as well as the choir stall surround which matches the present balcony, were originally part of the larger choir gallery.
The chancel is framed in a curved arch with reeded pilasters. The recessed chancel with domed ceiling was added around 1867. The window originally installed above the altar in the 1867 addition was replaced in 1937 by a predominately blue leaded glass window. The addition also houses the sacristy.
Partial renovations and improvements in 1969 included replacing rotted floor joists and sills, sandblasting brick walls to remove paint, repainting exterior and interior wood work, and installation of an air conditioning system. Exterior walls were treated with a clear 10% silicone waterproofing compound. Copper gutters and downspouts, believed installed in the late 1800’s, were removed at this time. The gutters, in a bad state of repair, were causing water to overflow in the building, their extreme height making periodic cleaning and maintenance impossible. Before they could be repaired and guard screens installed, they were stolen from the church property.
Exterior woodwork shows evident pitting from aging as well as from sandblasting.
All structural alterations to the church were done prior to 1867 or 1868.
St. Johns Sanctuary
St. John's Cemetery is located behind the church and occupies approximately two-thirds of the square. Ornate tombs mingle with simple unmarked graves. An iron fence surrounding the cemetery was built in 1889.
On the southeast corner of the property, at approximately 100' to the right of the church, is a modern parish hall/educational building which was built in 1967. The building is of cream colored brick (to match the painted brick of the church at the time the parish hall was built) and was designed to harmonize with the church and its surroundings while serving the needs of today's congregation.
The parish hall/educational building is the third structure to occupy its site. The first was a small two-room house which was moved onto the property in 1856 to be used as a rectory. This small house was moved off again in 1884 and "a new and commodious rectory of pleasing design and tasteful appearance" was built. This two-story dwelling was demolished in 1966 when it was no longer used as a rectory, to make way for the parish hall.
St. John's Church Rectory
St. Johns Episcopal Church is the oldest Episcopal Church west of the Mississippi River.
Leonidas Polk was a graduate of West Point and in 1838 was appointed Bishop f the Southwest . This area included Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. In 1841 he was appointed the first Bishop of Louisiana. He selected Thibodaux as his home and became owner of the Leighton Plantation. In February he organized the Parish under the name of St. Johns Church. The cornerstone was laid on January 1, 1844 and Bishop Polk consecrated the church on Palm Sunday, March16, 1845. The belfry and slave gallery were added at a later date.
The land for the church building, and eventually for the cemetery, was donated by George S. Guion, father-in-law of Governor Francis T. Nicholls.
The church and adjoining cemetery are on the Nation Historic Register. The cemetery has not yet been inventoried for the Lafourche Parish GenWeb site.
Thibodaux Multiple Resource Area
Thibodaux Multiple Resource Area
The Thibodaux Multiple Resource Area consists of fifteen individual buildings ranging in date from the antebellum period through the 1920’s. The owner of one of the fifteen (914 Jackson) has filed a notarized letter of objection, and hence the building in question cannot actually be listed on the Register. Of the fifteen, there are seven commercial buildings, five private residences, two residences in commercial use, and one church. Styles run the gamut from Greek Revival, to
commercial Italianate, to Queen Anne Revival, to twentieth century eclectic. All of the buildings have either urban or suburban settings. None of them have been altered enough to cause an integrity problem. There are also four buildings within the city limits that are already on the National Register (Rienzi, the Lafourche Parish Courthouse, St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Dansereau House).
These listed properties are referred to in the text, but, of course, are not being re-nominated.
Thibodaux, with a population of about 15,000, is the seat of government for the large rural parish of Lafourche (1,141 square miles). It is located on the banks of Bayou Lafourche, a waterway that branches off the Mississippi River at Donaldsonville and runs through the length of Lafourche Parish before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The town was incorporated in 1830 and was well established by the Civil War. By 1892 it had a population of 1900, and by 1907 this figure had
jumped to 4300. The present building stock as well as other available evidence indicates that the years from c.1890 to c.1910 were particularly prosperous ones for Thibodaux. (See item 8 historical development statement for additional information on this topic.)
Thibodaux developed along a fairly standard grid pattern with no formal planning features, The central business district is characterized, of course, by party wall buildings. For the most part, not even the larger homes in the town's old residential sections have very much land. Large homes are interspersed freely with humbler bungalows and cottages. Although the town's grand rue, Canal Boulevard, has a greater concentration of landmarks than one would find elsewhere, it is still
peppered with more humble dwellings.
The town has a one to two story scale with buildings ranging in date from the antebellum period to the present. There is little architectural cohesiveness in the downtown area due to considerable modern infill and copious alterations to older structures. When the State Historic Preservation Office staff evaluated it as a possible historic district, they found a 54% intrusion rate.
Although the surrounding older neighborhoods do not seem to have as many intrusions, they do have too much low-key pedestrian infill. Essentially Thibodaux is a city of impressive landmarks set in a sea of modest buildings -- i.e., plain bungalows, ordinary shotgun houses, and unadorned commercial buildings. Indeed, many of these modest "older'' structures are not even verifiably fifty years old. For example, there are many bungalows which could date from 1925, but which could also date from 1940. For these reasons, the State Historic Preservation Office concluded that there
was no possibility of a Register eligible historic district anywhere in Thibodaux.
Thibodaux's architecturally significant resources are all outstanding examples of their particular style on the local level. Taken as a whole, they by far represent Lafourche Parish's finest collection of historic buildings. In addition, three buildings are being nominated as exemplars of Thibodaux's historic role as the commercial focal point of the parish.
For the most part, the significance of each nominee is addressed adequately on the
attached continuation sheets. However, two categories of resources, the Queen Anne Revival residences and the galleried commercial buildings, warrant special attention.
Queen Anne Revival Residences:
Thibodaux has an unusually large number of turreted Queen Anne Revival houses, seven in all. Most Louisiana towns of comparable size have none, and only a small minority have one or two examples. For example, there are only six turreted houses in all of north central Louisiana (a seven parish area).
Of the seven remaining examples in Thibodaux, five are being nominated as part of this submission. The other two have sustained overwhelming losses of integrity and hence were omitted.
One has had a large front wing added which completely obliterates the original facade. The other has had a second story added and its present inappropriate scroll sawn gallery brackets are modern.
Generally speaking, it is the use of a turret which distinguishes the grand Queen Anne houses form the lesser examples To begin with, only the very largest examples have turrets.
Secondly, a turret contributes much to the elaborateness of a house‘s massing, something which is very much a part of the Queen Anne Revival aesthetic. Finally, because a turret contributes very little extra floor space at considerable extra cost, it is certainly a luxury item.
The importance of Thibodaux's five nominated Queen Anne Revival houses can be seen if
one views them within the overall context of period residential architecture in Lafourche Parish (c.1890-c.1910). Of the hundreds of examples which survive, most are cottages or shotgun houses.
A minority show touches of the then fashionable Queen Anne Revival. Usually this takes the form of an asymmetrical cottage with a gallery across half the front and a projecting bay under a gable.
Larger examples may have two bays and a secondary gallery wrapping around the side.
The five nominated houses easily represent the "high water mark" among period residences in the parish.
Most importantly, they are the only turreted Queen Anne Revival houses in the parish that retain their architectural integrity (the only other two being the altered examples mentioned above). In addition, each features a complex gallery which wraps around the entire front portion of the house following the contours of the bays and other projections. Other noteworthy attributes include the use of as many as five gables to enliven the massing and "carpenter's lace" panels on the interior.
These Queen Anne Revival houses represent the affluent business and professional class of Thibodaux around the turn of the century. The fact that there are so many first-rate examples reflects the general prosperity in Thibodaux at the time.
Zephirin Toups, Sr. House
The Zephirin Toups, Sr. House (1866) is a one and one-half story frame dwelling in the French Creole style. It also features some Greek Revival decorative details. The Lafourche Parish dwelling stands near Thibodaux within a semi-rural subdivision which maintains its pastoral character. Despite alterations and a short move, the house retains its National Register eligibility.
The Toups House was originally located between Thibodaux and Raceland in Lafourche
Parish's St. Charles community. It stood facing Bayou Lafourche on LA Hwy 308 and was
surrounded by five or six massive live oak trees. Sugar cane fields stood to the rear of the property.
In 1974 the house was threatened with demolition by an unsympathetic owner who planned to increase the amount of his land under cultivation. At this point the house was purchased by a descendant of Zephirin Toups and moved five miles via truck and barge to a new location within its original parish. It is certain that the house would have been lost had this move not taken place. The house now stands back from a gravel road on a large wooded and landscaped parcel which still has the feel of rural countryside. Thus, the new site, although in a semi-suburban area, is not at all inappropriate to the historic house.
Creole characteristics found within the Toups House include:
1) a Class III gabled umbrella roof,
2) bousillage walls,
3) three sets of French doors,
4) two wraparound mantels, one with a simple paneled overmantel, and
5) a floorplan which shows the influence of Creole geometry. The plan consists of
two ranges of rooms flanked by front and rear galleries. The front range contains
two rooms, the rear range three. The rear range's middle room is a bath converted
from a former hallway which connected one front room to the rear gallery. The rear
range also contains an original staircase leading to the attic.
The home's Greek Revival features include the gallery's paneled and molded pillars,
matching corner boards, and the simple styling of the wraparound mantels. Other features of interest found in the house include a simple cornice in the parlor and on the gallery, tall gallery baseboards, simply molded facade door surrounds, six-over-six windows, and the home's original siding.
Alterations to the Toups House which occurred before the move include the conversion of one rear room into a kitchen, the installation of twentieth century double windows in this room, the addition of a closet to the front bedroom, the enclosure of one side of the rear gallery to create a small cabinet-like room, and the partial enclosure (two walls only) of the rear gallery's opposite side These enclosures left a loggia-like space in the gallery's center.
Alterations associated with the move and restoration of the home are as follows:
1) the replacement of the home's original brick pier foundation by one consisting of
three foot concrete piers, and the replacement of the home's end chimneys. The
new chimneys incorporate the brick from the old. In addition, an unusual feature of
the originals was recreated in the reconstruction. The chimneys stand just inside
the side walls of the home, and the upper three quarters of the shafts are covered
by clapboards. However, the lower quarter of each brick chimney is exposed.
2) the previously mentioned hall-to-bath conversion, which resulted in the closing of a door and window which opened onto the rear gallery; the conversion of one rear
room into a study with a closet and built-in bookshelves; and the finishing of the
attic as extra bedroom space,
3) the addition of the fourth wall to the partially enclosed cabinet-like space on the rear gallery, and the installation of masonite on the rear gallery's walls,
4) the installation of beaded board wainscot in the parlor, and the removal of a
paneled overmantel from one wraparound mantel,
5) the boxing of the bottom of the gallery pillars and the installation of shutters on the windows, and
6) the addition of a large wing connecting directly to the rear cabinet/loggia-like
area. The wing consists of one large room and a carport.
Despite the move and changes, the Toups House remains a strong candidate for National
Register listing. The house stands at the same height as it did in its original location despite the replacement of its foundation piers. Except for the boxing of the front gallery's decorative pillars, the facade appears just as it did in 1866. Although the loss of one overmantel is regrettable, the mantel's wraparound configuration remains. The second mantel and overmantel, French doors, bousillage walls, core floorplan, and massing of the home are intact. Thus, the majority of the
home's defining Creole features survive, and it is this Creole character upon which the architectural significance of the Zephirin Toups, Sr., House is based.
Two additional buildings stand within the nominated area. The first is a small frame barn built from recycled parts. It is being counted as a non-contributing element because it is a modern structure. The second building is a frame outhouse. It is considered as a non-contributing element because it was moved to the site from another location, has no direct relationship to the Toups House, and is not individually eligible for the Register.
Significant dates 1866
The Zephirin Toups, Sr., House is locally significant in the area of architecture within Lafourche Parish because survey data collected thus far indicates that it is one of only a limited number of houses which retain a strong enough Creole identity and sufficient integrity to merit Register listing.
Although Lafourche Parish was also settled by Spanish, German, English and Canary [island immigrants, it was the French who dominated the culture and the architecture of the area before the Civil War. Thus, it is fair to assume that Lafourche Parish once had a large number of houses in the French Creole style. However, the parish's partially completed historic structures inventory indicates that most of these Creole houses have been lost or deteriorated to the extent that their integrity is
compromised. The data from the surveyed region can be taken as indicative of the entire parish's surviving architectural patrimony because the completed area includes all of Lafourche Parish's significant population centers and high probability sites. The areas behind Bayou Lafourche and at the tip of the parish near the Gulf of Mexico consist of marsh land. Thus, settlement in Lafourche
occurred primarily along the bayou, and the surveyed area encompasses both banks from the Assumption Parish line as far south as Golden Meadow.
The data shows a preliminary total of 142 houses (from over 1100, 50+ year old buildings surveyed to date) reflecting some Creole influence. However, the overwhelming majority of these buildings are quarters houses which are "Creole" only in that they exhibit the general massing (umbrella roof and full facade gallery) of a Creole structure. Less than twenty of the 142 houses are more substantial, and of these, less than ten survive with enough stylistic features or historic integrity to merit their identification as genuine Creole cottages. For example, several of the cottages have had their columns changed or have had later stylistic features added to their facades. Although the Toups House does reflect a slight Greek Revival influence, its Creole character still stands forth.
This can be seen in its massing, bousillaqe walls, wraparound mantels, French doors, and Creole floorplan.
Bottom Row, Left to Right: Emile Eugene Webre, Thomas Iris Webre, Mary Frost Webre,
Leonard Webre, Mable Cecile Webre, Richmond Webre
Top Row, Left to Right: Lili Webre, Aaron Carol Webre, Emily Webre, John Webre, Dorothy Regina Webre, Eddie Webre, Eugenie Webre
Photograph courtesy of Bobbie Houston Webre, copyright 2000-2005
Private Albert J. Bergeron, Thibodaux, Louisiana, Died of Disease WWI
Private Phillip Durenee, Raceland, Louisiana, Killed in Action WWI
Private Arthur Cortez, Kraemer, Louisiana, WWI, He is listed as Killed in Action,
Died of Accident, Wounded In Action, and Died of Wounds