St. Martinville is a city in and the parish seat of St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies on Bayou Teche, sixteen miles south of Breaux Bridge, eighteen miles southeast of Lafayette, and nine miles north of New Iberia. The population was 6,989 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Bayou Teche at its intersection with the Wax Lake outlet of the Atchafalaya River in St Mary Parish, Louisiana. The bayou runs bottom–top in the picture. View is to the west-northwest.
The Bayou Teche is a 125-mile long waterway of great cultural significance in south central Louisiana. Bayou Teche was the Mississippi River's main course when it developed a delta about 2,800 to 4,500 years ago. Through a natural process known as deltaic switching the river's deposits of silt and sediment causes the Mississippi to change its course every thousand years or so.
The name "Teche" is a French word meaning "snake" based on a story about a large snake told by the Chitimacha Indians to the settlers in the area.
The Teche begins in Port Barre where it draws water from Bayou Courtableau and then flows southward to meet the Lower Atchafalaya River at Patterson. During the time of the Acadian migration to what was then known as the Attakapas region, the Teche was the primary means of transportation. After the levees were built along the Atachafalaya River in the 1930s, the Teche and the rice farms located along the bayou suffered a drastic reduction in fresh water. Between 1976 and 1982, the United States Army Corps of Engineers built a pumping station at Krotz Springs, Louisiana to pump water from the Atchafalaya River into Bayou Courtableau.
Bayou Teche, as seen from the Bayou Teche Boardwalk near the Evangeline Oak (near the intersection of Evangeline Boulevard and South New Market Street).
Breaux Bridge is a city in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 7,281 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The Bayou Teche Boardwalk.
This community is called the "Crawfish Capital of the World", a designation obtained by former Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives Robert J. "Bob" Angelle. It is also known for its unusual listing of nicknames in its telephone directory.
In 1771, Acadian pioneer Firmin Breaux bought land in present-day city of Breaux Bridge. He purchased the land from Jean François Ledée, a wealthy New Orleans merchant who had acquired the land as a French land grant. By 1774, Breaux's branding iron was registered and by 1786 he was one of the largest property owners in the Bayou Teche country.
“It isn't easy being green!” (A St. Martinville resident, near the Evangeline Oak.)
In 1799, Breaux built a footbridge across the Bayou Teche to help ease the passage for his family and neighbors. This first bridge was a suspension footbridge, likely made of rope and small planks. It was stabilized by being tied to small pilings located at each end of the bridge, as well as to a pair of huge live oak trees on both sides of the bayou. When traveling directions were given, residents would often instruct people to "go to Breaux's bridge...", which eventually was adopted as the city's name.
In 1817, Firmin's son Agricole built the first vehicular bridge, allowing for the passage of wagons and increased commerce in the area. The town received its official founding in 1829 when Scholastique Picou Breaux, Agricole's widow, drew up a plan called Plan de la Ville Du Pont des Breaux for the city and began developing the property by selling lots to other Acadian settlers. A church parish was created in 1847 and in 1859, Breaux Bridge was officially incorporated.
In 1959, the Louisiana legislature officially designated Breaux Bridge as "la capitale Mondiale de l'ecrevisse" ("the Crawfish Capital of the World").
In the 16th century the area between the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico and Trinity River, in Texas, was occupied by numerous Indians tribes or Subdivisions of the Atakapa. The Indian Territory was not closed to outsiders and several traders roamed through it on business. However, it only began to be settled by Europeans after Louisiana was founded in 1699. The territory between Atchafalaya River and Bayou Nezpique, where Eastern Atakapa lived, was called Attakapas Territory. The French colonial government gave land away to soldiers and settlers.
Atchafalaya River delta
Attakapas Post was founded on the banks of the Bayou Teche and settlers started to arrive. Some came separately from France, such as the Frenchman Masse, who came in 1754 from Grenoble, and the French Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire in 1760. Fuselier bought all the land between Vermilion River and Bayou Teche from the Eastern Attakapas Chief Kinemo. It was shortly after that a rival Indian Tribe, the Appalousa (Opelousas) coming from the area through Atchafalaya River and Sabine River, exterminated the Attakapas (Eastern Atakapa).
Then other European settlers came in groups, such as the first Acadians from Nova Scotia, who were led there in 1763 by Jean Jacques Blaise d'Abbadie who became Governor. In 1768-1769 fifteen families arrived from Pointe Coupee. Their members came from Santo Domingo (French Saint Domingue, today Haïti) or from Paris via Fort de Chartres, Illinois. Between the arrivals of the two groups, the French captain Etienne de Vaugine came in 1764 and acquired a large domain east of Bayou Teche.
Map of the Mermentau River watershed showing the Mermantau River and its 4 largest tributaries (from left to right) Bayou Nezpique, Bayou des Cannes, Bayou Plaquemine Brule, and Bayou Queue de Tortue.
On April 25, 1766, after the arrival of the first Acadians, the census showed a population of 409 inhabitants for the Attakapas region. In 1767 the Attakapas Post alone had 150 inhabitants before the arrival of the 15 families from Pointe Coupee.
The Louisiana Purchase area is dark green and outlined in bold.
Napoleon sold Louisiana in 1803 to the United States through the Louisiana Purchase. The organizing of the Attakapas Territory took place between 1807 and 1868, culminating in the creation of the St. Martin Parish. Attakapas Post was named St. Martinville.
Vermilion River in Abbeville.
The economy of St. Martinville is fueled by agriculture, tourism and the hardworking spirit of the community. Agricultural production mainly yields crops ofcrawfish and sugar cane.
Crayfish, crawfish, or crawdads are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are probably closely related. They breathe through feather-like gills and are found in bodies of water that do not freeze to the bottom; they are also mostly found in brooks and streams where there is fresh water running, and which have shelter against predators. Most crayfish cannot tolerate polluted water, although some species such as the invasive Procambarus clarkii are more hardy. Some crayfish have been found living as much as 3 m (10 feet) underground.
Sugar Cane (Cut)
Sugarcane (Saccharum) is a genus of 6 to 37 species (depending on taxonomic interpretation) of tall perennial grasses (family Poaceae, tribe Andropogoneae), native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the Old World. They have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar and measure 2 to 6 meters tall. All of the sugar cane species interbreed, and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids.
St. Martin Parish contributes over 8,000,000 pounds of wild crawfish from the Atchafalaya Basin and another 14,000,000 pounds harvested from farming ponds annually to the overall production of Louisiana crawfish.
The Louisiana Sugar Cane Co-Op and historic St. John Mill, which is administered in St. Martinville, manage about 34,000 sugar cane producing acres throughout the State of Louisiana.
The St. Martinville Cultural Heritage Center, South New Market Street, containing the Museum of the Acadian Memorial and the African American Museum.
Cajun Chef Products, Inc. is the largest employer in the city. For 30 years, the Bulliard family has built a tradition of supplying quality Cajun food products nationwide. The business that began in 1958 with one product now distributes more than 250 products through fast food and other restaurants as well as other institutions. Approximately 100 employees maintain the local plant.
Peppers Unlimited of Louisiana, Inc. employs approximately 60 people from the St. Martinville area. The Bulliard family hot sauce recipe dates back to the turn of the century, in 1910. There are four generations of Bulliards now represented in the pepper business. Products processed at the St. Martinville plant are made under the Louisiana Supreme label or private labels and are sold internationally.
A statue of Evangeline - a heroine of the dérangement and of Longfellow's famous poem
St. Martinville is widely considered to be the birthplace of the Cajun culture and traditions, and it is in the heart of Cajun Country. There has been a true multicultural community in St. Martinville, with Cajuns, Creoles (French coming via the French West Islands - Guadeloupe, Martinique and Santo Domingo), French, Spaniards, African and African Americans.
Map of Acadiana Region with the Cajun Heartland subregion highlighted in dark red. Acadiana (also called Cajun Country) (French: L'Acadiane) is the official name given to the French Louisiana region that is home to a large Cajun population. Of the 64 parishes that comprise Louisiana, 22 parishes, or about one-third of the total, make up Acadiana.
Once New Orleans was founded and began to have epidemics, some New Orleanians escaped the city and came to St Martinville. Its nickname, Petit Paris ("Little Paris"), dates from the era when St. Martinville was known as a cultural mecca with good hotels and a French Theater that featured the best operas and witty comedies.
The third oldest town in Louisiana, St. Martinville has many buildings and homes with beautiful architecture, such as the historic St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church and La Maison Duchamp on Main Street. The church was dedicated to Martin of Tours in France, where a St Martin de Tours church can be found. There is also one in Layrac, France, the birthplace of Pierre Nezat who settled in 1768 in St Martinville.
St. Martinville is the site of the Evangeline Oak made famous in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem. It is also the location of an African American Museum, and is included as a destination on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.
Evangeline describes the betrothal of an Acadian girl named Evangeline Bellefontaine to her beloved, Gabriel Lajeunesse, and their separation as the British deport the Acadians from Acadie in the Great Upheaval. The poem then follows Evangeline across the landscapes of America as she spends years in a search for him, at some times being near to Gabriel without realizing he was near. Finally she settles in Philadelphia and, as an old woman, works as a nun among the poor. While tending the dying during an epidemic she finds Gabriel among the sick, and he dies in her arms.
The Acadian Memorial, South New Market Street, adjacent to the above St. Martinville Cultural Heritage Center. The Bayou Teche Boardwalk is behind these buildings, along Bayou Teche.
St. Martinville Senior High School also has a great sports tradition. The Tigers have won 2 state titles in football and have had a consistently good team since the late 70's until recent years. They have also won state championships in basketball and volleyball. The latest of the 5 championships came in the 2004 basketball season. The team coined the name "The Greatest Show on Earth" by the locals. Early Doucet and Darrel Mitchell (both LSU standouts) were both on the team. Doucet focused on football the following year. Mitchell was Mr. Louisiana that year also.
People from St. Martinville
Jefferson J. DeBlanc (born February 15, 1921), World War II ace fighter pilot and Medal of Honor recipient, resided in St. Martinville before and after the war. The heroic story of how DeBlanc became an "ace in a day" was recreated in 2006 using computer graphics and depicted in "Episode 5: Guadalcanal" of The History Channel's series Dogfights, for which he provided first-person commentary.
St. Martinville is the birthplace of Paul Jude Hardy (born October 18, 1942), the first Republican to be elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana, serving from 1988 to 1992. Hardy was previously a member of the Louisiana State Senate and was the Louisiana Secretary of State from 1976 to 1980. As of early 2007, Paul Hardy was a practicing attorney in Baton Rouge.
Carroll Delahoussaye - The first public high school football coach to win 100 games in 10 years. He also is a member of the Louisiana High School Hall of Football Hall of Fame.
Early Doucet - NFL football player.
Darrel Mitchell - Professional basketball player. (European League)
Garland Jean-Batiste - Former NFL football player.
La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns - sponsored by La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns, Inc., a Louisiana non-profit organization benefiting the youth of St. Martinville and other civic projects
SATURDAY February 21, 2009
MAGNOLIA CITY PARK ST. MARTINVILLE 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
The Saturday Before Mardi Gras!!!!!
Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie
Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys
Junior Melancon & The Come Down Playboys
Arts & Crafts, Food, Fun, Refreshments, and Much More!
Raffle: Main Prize Al Simon Cajun Microwave
BUTCHERING OF THE PIG
SQUEAL LIKE A PIG CONTEST
CRACKLIN THROWING CONTEST - Al Simon Cajun Microwave
Sponsored by: La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns, Inc.
A Louisiana Non-Profit Association benefiting the Youth of St. Martinville and Other Civic Projects
Traditionally, Cajun social life centered around the home. Neighbors came together to fashion their own entertainment. Then, as now, food was central to any gathering of friends and family.
Among Cajuns, anything can be a celebration, including the butchering of a hog. Called a Boucherie, the occasion still brings together aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors, all of whom participate, and leave with some byproducts of the butchering. Sharing animated conversation and often some cold beer and wine, the participants produce from the freshly killed hog des tripes, which most everyone in the rest of the country call chitterlings, p’ tit sale or salt meat, andouille sausage, pork meat patties called platines, the perennial favorite boudin, which consists of rice and pork dressing stuffed in an edible casing, hog’s head cheese, marinated pork or grillades and smoked meat for seasoning which Cajuns call tasso. Also from the hog comes gratons, the original Cajun snack food. Called cracklins in other parts of the country, gratons are produced along with lard, another important byproduct of the Boucherie. The skin is scraped and the fat layer next to it rendered into lard for cooking, after which the skin and attached fat residue are fried into crisp, tasty gratons.
It is not by accident that the predominately Catholic Cajuns from St. Martinville hold their annual “La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns” right before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the Lenten season. The community comes together for one last “bon temps.”
For Vendor Information and Applications, please call Wanda Barras at
337-394-6683 or email email@example.com
Pepper Festival - sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of St. Martinville
SORRY, NO PETS • NO FOOD/BEVERAGES/ICE CHESTS, PLEASE!
Food, snacks, soft drinks sold on premises.
*100% of proceeds from this event benefit community children's and youth projects/programs
sponsored and supported by the KIWANIS CLUB OF ST. MARTINVILLE
Among them are the annual "Every Child A Swimmer" program,
Foster Kids' Family Christmas event,
St. Martinville Senior High Key Club & Trinity Catholic School Builders Club -- and MORE!
WHERE'S THE FESTIVAL?
CLICK ON THE YAHOO!® MAPS LINK BELOW FOR FESTIVAL SITE INFO
Map of S. New Market St., St. Martinville, LA
SEE YOU ON OCTOBER 18th -2009!
St. Martin de Tours Church is the oldest church parish in southwest Louisiana. It is known as the Mother Church of the Acadians because it was founded in 1765 upon the arrival of Acadians in this area. The current building has served as a center for religious activities in this predominantly Catholic community for over one hundred fifty years.
At the side of the St Martin de Tours Church is a monument dedicated to the Militiamen of St Martinville (36 of the militiamen were French Creoles, three were Acadians, and three colonial Americans, one's citizenship was not known) who took part with General Bernardo de Galvez in the "Capture of Baton Rouge in 1779” Battle of Baton Rouge. The monument was erected by the Louisiana Daughters of the American Revolution.
La Maison Duchamp on Main Street in St. Martinville, Louisiana was built by Eugène and Amélie Duchamp in 1876 as their town house. This St. Martinville landmark house has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places; future generations will be able to see its creative architecture.
Duchamp Opera House, which dates to the mid-1800s, hosted many theatrical companies in its lifetime and has recently been completely restored. It once again hosts theatrical companies on the second floor.
The Evangeline Oak, made famous in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "Evangeline," stands on the bank of the Bayou Teche. Longfellow Evangeline State Park is located north of the historic district.
The African American Museum, located in the historic district, uses the latest technology to provide insights into the culture and life of the Free People of Color in the community and their contributions to the Attakapas region from the 1750s on. They were integral to building and service trades. Many descended from Africans from the Senegambian region of West Africa and from French and Spanish colonists.
The newly renovated Old Teche Theater, once again offers entertainment to the town. The 1930's Art Deco movie house is now converted into a television & film studio as well as a performing arts venue and recording studio.
St. Martin Parish is located in south-central Louisiana; its parish seat is St. Martinville. It has a population of 49,481 (2001 US Census Bureau) and is 739.9 square miles in size.
The Italianate-style Eugene Duchamp de Chastaignier house, Main Street at Evangeline Boulevard, was designed by architect David Sandoz and built in 1876. During the 1900's it was utilized as the St. Martinville Post Office. National Register of Historic Places.
St. Martin Parish is the only parish to have non-contiguous parts. There are three major geographical areas dividing the 739.9 square mile parish, including the Atchafalaya Basin, the prairie, and the Bayou Teche area, on which several major cities, including the parish seat, are located.
Over one third of St. Martin Parish's 48,000 inhabitants are Cajun, and the area certainly boasts large African-American, white Creole, and Creole of Color communities.
The St. Martin Parish Courthouse, 415 South Main Street, is a Greek Revival structure from the mid-1800's. National Register of Historic Places.
From the Bayou Teche to the Atchafalaya Basin, St. Martin Parish is a picturesque and bountiful region. Rich in agricultural, visitors are taken through sugar cane fields, low-lying swamp land, and rolling lands of beauty. Majestic live oaks, draped with moss, are scattered along roadways. Bald cypress trees and their unique stumps abound.
Who can forget the stories of Evangeline sitting on the banks of the Bayou Teche. Believed to be of Indian origin, the word Teche is said to mean "winding snake". The Chitimatcha legend says that "it was a mean and deadly snake that terrorized the tribe. But finally Indian bowmen overcame it, and as it turned and coiled and twisted in death throes, it broadened and deepened and carved out the place where it died." Nearly 123 miles of flowing water beginning at Bayou Courtableau in St. Landry Parish and joining the the Atchafalaya in lower St. Mary Parish, the Bayou Teche winds its way through St. Martin Parish, from Breaux Bridge to St. Martinville and beyond.
A typical south Louisiana cemetery, with above-ground tombs. Note on the near side of the cemetery the concrete block fenceposts, which appear to have been pressed with a Sears, Roebuck & Co. (or similar) press
Then, imagine flowing gently through a maze of darkness and being enveloped by the mysterious and murky water of an endless winding watercourse of rivers and lakes. You've just entered the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp.
The Atchafalaya Basin comprises an area of 860,000 acres of swamps, lakes, and water prairies. Cutting a 15-mile-wide path along South Louisiana, it is the largest and last great river-basin swamp. But to fully comprehend and appreciate the magnificence of the Atchafalaya, you must journey back when the Atchafalaya was as nomadic as its people.
The Atchafalaya River Basin first began forming around 900 AD when the might Mississippi River abandoned its easternmost channel and flowed in that direction for approximately 1,000 years to occupy the present course of Bayou Lafourche. Over time, natural levees formed along the river to trap yearly overflow thus forming a lake within the middle bounded by a densely forested area.
The Basin has been an essential source of food, timber, and fur for Native Americans and for settlers of European and African descent. It served as a refuge for escaped slaves, and its resources attracted a number of Cajuns in the hard times that followed the Civil War.
Early development of the Atchafalaya Basin hinged on the Bayou Teche. Before roads, the little Teche, not the Atchafalaya, was the highway from the Gulf of Mexico into the heart of Louisiana. Amazingly the Teche was navigable over 100 miles, yet it was no wider than the length of a war canoe, no deeper than a man and no swifter than mud turtles that swam it.
The removal of timber is the oldest economic activity practiced in the Atchafalaya Basin. Cypress was the most important lumber product. Tupelo gum and various other trees were also exploited. The French soon found the value of cypress as a building material. They used the lumber for homes, out-buildings, fences, boats, and most wooden implements.
The Great Flood of 1927 drastically changed the life of the Basin from Simmesport in the upper Basin to Morgan City in the South. The flood triggered a mass exodus from communities like Bayou Chene, Sherburne, Atchafalaya, and Pelba where people once made their living from the swamp.
In an effort to control Mother Nature's plans of shortening the route of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico via the Atchafalaya River, the US Army Corps of Engineers erected huge flood gates at the intersection of the two rivers. The five- mile-wide West Atchafalaya Floodway was created by the Corps of Engineers as an outlet for the raging water of the Red, Atchaflaya, and Mississippi rivers during the next great flood.
An abundance of wildlife can be found in the Basin. At least 300 species of birds, including thousands of wintering ducks and coots and the largest wintering population of American woodcock in North America. Over 50,000 egrets, ibises, and herons nest in the Floodway. The largest nesting concentration of bald eagles in the south central United States is found in the Atchafalaya Basin. The American alligator along with 54 other species of reptiles and amphibians can also be found. Over 90 species of fish, crawfish, crabs, and shrimp support an extremely active seafood industry.
With each new season, the Atchafalaya Swamp changes it face. Winter blows in isolation and despair as the frigid morning fog rolls across the basin swamp. Spring signals a rebirth as lush greens and vibrant purples reach forward to embrace its new season. Sunrise is the basin awakens its creatures as snakes slither and alligators and turtles bask in the sunlight. As the sun descends on another day, an eerie silence hangs on until the haunting cry of the egret penetrates the morning.
"A Cultural Gumbo"
Acadiana, the historically French region of Southwest Louisiana, is best known for its Cajun culture. The word Cajun comes from a regional English pronunciation of "Acadian". Exiled from their homeland on the Atlantic Coast of Canada by British forces, some 3,000 Acadians found refuge in Louisiana in the late 1700's. After a hundred years of contact with Louisianians of European, African, and indigenous descent, "Cajun" became a blanket term for working class, French-speaking whites. Today's Cajuns, or Cadiens as they call themselves in French, are found in all walks of life: they are farmers and governors, oil workers and educators.
It can be said that Acadiana was born when 200 members of the Acadian resistance settled around present-day St. Martinville in 1765. They referred to South Louisiana as La Nouvelle Acadie, or New Acadia. On the land where the city of St. Martinville now stands, they met a handful of enslaved Africans who were homesteading and tending cattle for French landowners. The settlement was known as Les Poste des Attakapas, for the indigenous Attakapas people who once hunted here and now occupied outlying lands.
Spanish-speaking Malaga settlers and refugees fleeing the French Revolution soon followed, as well as Creole families from New Orleans and Mobile and some Anglo-American families. With the increased need for labor came more slaves from Louisiana or other states as well as from West Africa. A large number of Anglo-American slaves from Virginia and elsewhere on the East Coast were sold to local buyers between 1830 and 1850. The city's antebellum population grew to include a number of gens de couleur libre, or free people of color. By the 1880s, a large influx of Italian merchants, German wheat farmers seeking a place in the rice industry, and Irish workers working for the railroad, formed a cultural amalgam of diverse groups.
Today, the founding cultures, Acadian, African, French, Italian, and Spanish, have maintained their cultural identities while blending together to form a savory "cultural gumbo".
"Joie de vivre" (joy of living) is de rigeur in St. Martin Parish. The pleasure-loving nature of the region manifests itself in festivals, dancing, and food. What better way to enjoy a serving of cultural gumbo? Visitors are transported to a place like no other they will ever experience. The history, cuisine, hospitality, and music of the founding cultures are alive and well and eagerly await you in St. Martin Parish.
The Acadian House was built in 1765 and consists of three buildings. The main house,
which is a two story cottage. The cusine (kitchen) which is connected to the main house by Whistlers Walk, and the Magazin (store house).
The main house is built of hand hewed cypress, fastened with Wooden Pegs, sun baked
brick and adobe mixed with moss. The ground floor walls are of brick, they contain two main rooms with fire places, two smaller rooms and a front and rear patio like area. All the floors are paved with red brick. The walls of the second floor, extending up to the roof are made of adobe clay and moss.
The second floor consist of two large rooms and two smaller rooms, there is a front and rear porch, with steps leading from the rear porch to the ground floor and enclosed steps leading to a large attic.
Six brick columns extend to the second floor, front and back, where smaller wooden columns extend to the roof. The roof is covered with split cypress shingles.
Woodwork is crude, the center opening doors, hinges and hardware are primitive. The
doors on the ground floor are small and windows heavily shuttered. The kitchen has been restored around the original fireplace and equipped with utensils of the period. The small magazin (store house) is a replica, a typical Acadian Kitchen garden is maintained in the area between the main house and the kitchen. A brick path leads to the area behind the kitchen where the slave quarters, stables and work sheds were located. These are no longer standing, but their exact location is
known and it is intended that replicas will be built in the future.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
On September 5, 1755, at Grand Pre, Nova Scotia, General Winslow of the British Army
decreed that all Acadians were prisoners of the Crown. His orders were that all land, tenements, livestock and cattle, were forfeited to the Crown and that all Acadians would be deported from the province to a place suiting his majesty’s pleasure.
The order was swiftly carried out. On the 10th of Sept. 1755, one hundred and sixty one young men from the district of Minos, were driven on board five transports stationed in the Gaspereaux River. As more transports arrived, the women, children, and mothers and sweethearts were loaded on board to be carried away.
Although the Acadians were scattered from Main to Georgia, they held on to the common
desire to once again be reunited under the French flag. Many found their way by riverboat, rafts, and overland trail to Louisiana. On the 13th of January, 1765, about six hundred and fifty five Acadians arrived at New Orleans. From New Orleans they were sent to form settlements in the Attakapas an area which comprises the present day Parishes of St. Martin, St. Mary Iberia, Lafayette and Vermillion.
It was from the accounts of these happenings and a legend about a maid that was torn from her new husband and then spent her life searching for him, that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow gathered the material for his immortal poem, Evangeline.
Local legend has it that the Acadian House was once the home of Louis Arceneaux, the
prototype of Longfellow’s Gabriel and that Emmaline Labiche was Evangeline. It is also believed that she is buried in the St. Martinsville Church yard. A Louis Arceneaux did live, he died on March 6, 1812, at the age of 44 years. Since parish records show that he was born in Louisiana, he could not have been Longfellow’s Gabriel. There appears to be no record of an Emmaline Labiche being buried in the St. Martinsville graveyard, although records go back to 1756.
Although no proof exist that the Acadian House was the home of Louis Arceneaux (Gabriel), there is proof that the house is authentic and that it was the home of many prominent Louisianians.
The Acadian House was built about 1765, by Mr. D'Autrive, Chevalier de St. Louis, on a Spanish Land Grant. The Chevalier died sometime before 1775 leaving his Widow extensive lands on the Bayou Teche and Mississippi. Mrs. D'Autrive lived on the Plantation, as on inventory taken at her death there were buildings on the land and she is referred to as a resident of the post On November 13th, 1778 by act passed before Mr. DeClout, Commandant at the Post des Attakapas at Opelousas, the Plantation was sold to the Widow of Missire Paul Augustine Le Pelletier de la Houssaye, also called Pierre Augustine. He was a cadet at the Post des Attakapas, Captain detache de la Marine, Major de Place in New Orleans and Mobile, one of five commissioners appointed by the crown to make inquiry concerning the Rochemore - Kerlerec quarrel, commandant of the provincial militia and Knight of the Royal and Military order of St. Louis.
M. de Le Houssaye's widow was Magdeleine Victoire Petit de Livillers, their marriage
combined two of the most influential and powerful families in the new world.
The list of notable Louisiana families connected with the Acadian House and Plantation, includes but is not limited to the Oliver de Vegin family. Pierre Francois Marie Oliver, Ecuyer Sieur de Vezin, was appointed Grand Voyer - Overseer of the highways and the kings surveyor general in the Province, Oct. 1747. In 1769 he became a "Regidor Perperao Y Alquassil Mayor", and took his seat in the Cabildo. Hughes Charles Hanore Oliver de Vezin de St. Maurice was one of eight children of this illustrious figure, he married Marie Madeline Phillippe de Marigny de Mandeville.
The de Blanc family was one of the foundation families of Louisiana. Chevalier Cesaire de Blanc de Neuveille was born in Marseilles, France. He became second commander of Fort St. Jean Baptiste de Natchitoches. He left two sons. One of the sons, Louis Charles de Blanc Neuville, served from 179S to 1303, as a commandant of Natchitoches and the Post de Attakapas (St. Martinville). He was captaine d’infanterie under his Catholic majestry, King of Spain and was appointed one of the commissioners to turn Louisiana over to the United States.
The Forstall family was another owner of the Plantation. This ancient family dates back to the time when William Le Forestier, a Norman Knight, crossed the English Channel with William the Conqueror in 1066.
Finally Mr. C. T. Bienvenue purchased the land from Mr. Frank Greig. Mr. Bienvenue was acting for Longfellow - Evangeline Memorial State and National Park Assn. On February 14, 1931, the National Park Association donated the Park to the State of Louisiana. The list of important families connected with the Acadian House is too long to be given here in its entirety.
The heritage of the Acadian House, The Association with the early history of Louisiana and more specifically the link with Longfellow classic poem, has made the Longfellow Evangeline.
The Bonin House is a two story frame residence featuring elements of the Greek Revival, Italianate, and Colonial Revival styles. Developed in 3 stages, it achieved most of its present appearance in the early twentieth century. The present single story rear wing appears to be a circa 1950 replacement of an earlier single story rear wing. Other changes include the installation of bathrooms and the sheathing of most of the exterior of the house in vinyl siding. Despite these alterations, the house retains those qualities that establish its architectural significance within the context of St. Martinville.
The Bonin House has a rather complicated architectural history. Its development was
determined using an early twentieth century photograph and a large number of extant clues noted in a recent site inspection by a member of the staff of the Division of Historic Preservation. Evidently the house began as a two story, four bay, Greek Revival town residence in about 1850. The two story front gallery had colossal posts with relatively plain capitals. The first floor consisted of an off-center hall with two rooms on each side and a staircase ascending toward the rear to an almost
identical plan on the second floor. On both the first and second floors, the hall culminated on the facade with a large opening featuring transoms and side lights.
Noteworthy surviving early features include a large number of door and window surrounds and three aedicule style mantels upstairs. In addition, some of the window surrounds feature decorative panels beneath. Another noteworthy feature from the original period of construction is the set of massive sliphead windows that provide access to the upper gallery.
In about 1875, the house was remodeled in the Italianate style. Large curvaceous brackets were added to the tops of the gallery columns, along the eave of the rear elevation, and along the side gables. Decorative trim was also placed between the gallery columns on both stories. In addition, each of the side gables was fitted with a triple arch window. Finally, richly turned balustrades were added to the upper gallery. Surviving features from this period include the curvaceous brackets on the rear elevation and the side gables, the triple arch window on each side
elevation, and evidently the balustrade (see below for balustrade).
In about 1910, the house was again remodeled, this time in the Colonial Revival style. This remodeling was far more extensive than the previous one. The floor plan was made more open, reflecting the taste of the period. On both floors, the front half of the hall was combined with the front room on the north side. This created a new large entrance parlor downstairs and a larger bedroom upstairs. The original staircase was removed. Evidently the parts were reused to construct the present three flight, two landing staircase in the rear northern portion of the house. Three of the rooms downstairs were fitted with standard Colonial Revival mantel/over-mantel sets with freestanding columns. The front south room downstairs was fitted with a paneled alcove. In addition, the windows and window openings were replaced in both the downstairs front rooms with the present Colonial Revival window treatment. This consists of a pair of triple windows with long vertical panes in the upper sashes and large single panes below. The house also received a tile roof at this
time and a small covered entrance at the rear of the northern side elevation.
The most significant change was the removal of the original columns and the Italianate brackets on the facade. These were replaced with the present front gallery treatment which consists of a four bay, double tier of elegant Tuscan columns, with each group rising to a narrow entablature.
Evidently the previously mentioned Italianate balustrades on the second floor gallery were re-used when this new gallery treatment was installed.
As previously mentioned, the current one story rear wing appears to date from about 1950.
Although Sanborn insurance maps indicate that a single story rear wing was in place as early as 1903, architectural evidence indicates that this wing was rebuilt and enlarged some time after the close of the historic period. A carport has been appended at the rear of the wing.
Another change has been the installation of vinyl siding on the sides and rear of the house.
Although this is regrettable, the substitute siding does not impact the front elevation. In addition, it is very similar in appearance to the historic wood siding beneath it, and thus its visual impact is minimal.
When the present owner acquired the house the above mentioned tile roof was deteriorated and needed to be replaced. Due to the expense involved, the owner elected to substitute a metal roof.
Other changes include the partitioning off of portions of some of the upstairs rooms for bathrooms, the installation of crown moldings in some rooms, the replacement of the front door and transom lights on both stories, and the enclosure of a small, presumably early twentieth century porch on the southern side elevation.
Assessment of Integrity
Despite these non-historic alterations, the house remains a landmark within St. Martinville, as explained in Part 8. In reference to the roof replacement, it should be stressed that the roofing material on a two story house is not a major visual element. The new metal roof is visible only from a distance. Also, the tile roof was not integral to the house’s architectural identity as it would have been, for example, with a one story Mission Revival “hacienda.”
Note: There is a small (roughly 10 X 10) storage shed to the rear of the house. It is not being included in the count because it does not appear to meet the substantial in size and scale" threshold. In this view the shed appears larger than it actually is in relationship to the house.
In any event, its history cannot be documented. No building is shown in this location on the latest Sanborn map for St. Martinville (1938).
Significant dates c.1850, c.1875, c.1910
Bonin-Bienvenu House, 421 North Main Street. Originally constructed in the Italian villa style ca. 1850, with Queen Anne restyling in the late 1800's and Colonial Revival renovations in the 1920's. It has been owned by the Bonin, Bienvenu, and Longpacher families. It has also been known as the Bienvenue House Bed and Breakfast. National Register of Historic Places.
Bonin-Bienvenu House (side view).
The Burdin House (c. 1900) is a one-and-one-half story frame Queen Anne Revival style
residence with primarily Eastlake detailing. Located a short distance northeast of the central business district of the St. Martin Parish seat of St. Martinville, the home stands upon a high point within a lushly landscaped parcel overlooking nearby Bayou Teche. Although the house has experienced some alteration over the years, it retains its National Register eligibility.
The home’s plan is organized around a central hallway with two rooms on its north side and three on the south. At the rear of the hall a stairway rises to the building’s attic level. Behind the hall, a dining room projects toward the rear. A gallery graces the facade. Two additional ell-shaped galleries once wrapped around the home’s rear corners. One has been enclosed, the other expanded (see below).
Queen Anne Revival style features found on the Burdin House include:
1) a busy roofline distinguished by its original pressed metal roof, chimneys with corbeled tops, five original cross gables, and two dormers.
2) projecting bays (two polygonal and one square in shape), and
3) the elaborate use of texture on exterior surfaces. Textured areas include:
a) the previously mentioned pressed metal roof, articulated in a manner to suggest
b) the presence of imbricated (or fishscale) shingles upon the building’s five major
c) an additional low gable containing a sunburst motif on the facade. This gable
projects from the cross gable behind it in a manner suggestive of a small
The exterior’s Eastlake features are found on the gallery, whose shape follows the outline of the small pavilion-like gable with sunburst mentioned above. These motifs include turned columns and corner pilasters, accompanying brackets and a screen resembling a Chinese abacus outlining the gallery’s roofline.
Other exterior features of interest include the transom and sidelights which surround the front door, original two-over-two windows and a pair of full length windows which grace one side of the facade.
The interior is decorated by motifs in the Eastlake and Colonial Revival styles. Eastlake characteristics include the stair’s balustrade and door surrounds featuring fluted and reeded moldings, bull’s eye corner blocks and triangular elements resembling flower petals (above the topmost corner blocks). The Colonial
Revival is represented by five different mantels, each of which is typical of the period. Other interesting interior ornaments include a beaded board wainscot in the hallway, molded cornices, the dining room’s built-in china cabinet featuring a leaded glass door, and unusual pinnacle-like elements rising from molded baseboards at each corner of the dining room.
The house has received the following alterations over the years:
1) The construction of a kitchen (since modernized) at one rear corner and a small hall-like room connecting the kitchen to the dining room,
2) the replacement of the original front door with a glazed door.
1) the conversion into a bathroom of a small, narrow nursery located at the rear of the south range of rooms,
2) changes to the ell-shaped side porches mentioned above. These include:
a) the enlargement of the southern porch into a large, square corner porch with a flat roof, the screening of this new space, and the attachment of awnings to the porch’s two sides.
b) the enclosure of a portion of the northern porch and its conversion into a bath
c) the conversion of the remaining portion of the northern ell-shaped porch into a
vestibule accessing the dining room.
3) the finishing of the attic into an under-eaves second story containing a landing used as a sitting area, a large bedroom and a bath.
Fortunately, none of the above listed alterations has impacted the architectural features which make the home a landmark example of the Queen Anne Revival and Eastlake styles in St. Martinville (see Part 8). Thus, the Burdin House is a prime candidate for National Register listing.
SIGNIFICANT DATES: c. 1900
Dautreuil House / La Maison Louie Bed and Breakfast
The Dautreuil House is a single story brick residence with Creole and Greek Revival
influences. It is located on a corner lot in an older residential area near downtown St. Martinville.
Despite additions to the rear and a new front porch, the house retains the bulk of its c.1840 character.
The common bond brick house features a central hall with two rooms on each side. A steep staircase ascends from the rear of the hall to a capacious unfinished attic.
The house is hesitantly styled in the Greek Revival mode. Features include: 1) the pediment shaped top of the front doorway on the interior; 2) the long bolection molded panels on the ceilings throughout; and 3) the boldly formed plaster molded mantel in the front west room. There are also two Creole features: 1) the distinctive gables ended roofline and 2) the French doors on the facade that provide access to the two front rooms.
The physical evidence indicates that originally the house did not have a front gallery, which is quite unusual for Louisiana. The angle of the front rafters, which is established by the historic roof structural system, does not provide for an overhang of any kind. In addition, the front openings reach so high on the facade that there is virtually no room for a gallery roof to be attached. "Ghost marks" indicate that originally the front doorway was surmounted by an applied plaster lintel with a pointed top roughly suggesting a pediment. This feature was lost when the present owner acquired the house, and the ghost marks have been partially covered by a recently installed front porch (see below). The first documented front porch on the house is shown on a 1927 Sanborn map. The map
shows the house with a gallery across the front and the distinctive gables roof labeled "FR GABLE."
By the 1930s/40s a new pitched roof that covered over the gablets had been built (per photos in owner's possession). When the present owner acquired the house, this roofline survived, and a bungalow style porch spanned the facade. Fortunately, the gablets were not destroyed and the gables roofline was restored as part of a 1994 renovation. At that time the bungalow porch was removed and a shed roof gallery with simple chamfered posts was added.
Other changes include:
1) There is a rear frame ell wing which appears to date from the early twentieth century. (It appears on the 1927 Sanborn map.)
2) The interior doors, although they appear to be mid-nineteenth century, have been moved around as evidenced by their twentieth century hinges and ghost marks showing where hinges had been mounted.
3) The rear west room exterior door was once a window. The Sanborn map shows a frame
lean-to addition in this location. Obviously the window was converted as this time to provide access to the addition.
4) The original mantels were gone in three of the four rooms when the present owner
acquired the house. All that was in the front east room was a shelf and this remains.
Specially made wraparound mantels in the Greek Revival style were installed in the two rear rooms.
5) The present concrete floor was added in the 1940s.
6) The central hall was furred out a few feet to make room for a bathroom when the present owner acquired the house. The bathroom was accessed via a door from the hall. This opening was removed and the space is now used as a closet.
7) A frame shed roof bathroom was added behind the east rear room as part of the 1994
renovation project. For purposes of privacy, a set of French doors like those on the front of the house were removed and replaced by solid double leaf doors. The French doors were then relocated to the opening between the west rear room and the ell wing.
Assessment of Integrity:
Although the Dautreuil House has experienced various changes over the years, it retains most of its c.1840 character, including its distinctive gables roofline, floorplan, paneled ceilings, staircase, one mantel and most of its original exterior openings, including those across the facade.
The matter of how early the house acquired a porch will most likely remain a mystery. In reference to the present appearance of the house, it is known that at least in 1927 (Sanborn map) the gables roofline and a front porch existed simultaneously.
Significant dates c.1840
The Dautreuil House, 517 East Bridge Street, dates from around 1825. National Register of Historic Places.
The Fontenette-Bienvenu House is a one-and-a-half story Creole cottage of colombage
construction with Federal details. It is located on Main Street near the central church square in the parish seat of St. Martinville. The house was completed in either 1817 or early 1818 for Jacques Fontenette, who died on April 23, 1818. His succession, opened May 4, 1818, refers to "a fine house, newly constructed" being located on the property in question. Because the house has been owned since the 1 850s by the Bienvenu family, the historic name chosen for this submission recognizes both the Fontenette and Bienvenu names. Despite twentieth century alterations and a recent fire, the Fontenette-Bienvenu House easily retains its architectural identity and enough character-defining elements to establish its architectural significance.
The plan consists of two front rooms of equal size with a pair of unequal sized cabinets behind with a long room between. The principal story features brick-between-post construction with French angle braces at the corners. The second story is reached directly from the broad front gallery by a steep central staircase which ascends between the two front rooms to the finished attic. The placement of the stair in this manner is most unusual for a Creole house in Louisiana.
A large brick chimney is set behind the previously mentioned central staircase and services fireplaces in the two front rooms. These feature an identical pair of elaborate Federal mantels with decoratively cut pilasters, a three-panel entablature and intricate systems of built-up moldings forming the shelves. Also Federal, at least in spirit, is the overall delicacy of the molded window and door surrounds and the raised panels on the distinctive eight-panel interior doors.
Certain other features attest to the house's early date. These include 9 over 6 sash windows with fixed upper sashes and double leaf French doors on the facade with ten lights per leaf. Other noteworthy features include the ceilings with exposed beaded beams and beaded ceiling boards and the baseboards which also feature a decorative bead.
Levert-St. John Bridge
The Levert-St. John Bridge is a single-lane vehicular bridge which crosses Bayou Teche at O'Neal Boudreaux Road between the small rural communities of Levert and St. John, near St.
Martinville. All available evidence points to an 1895 construction date for the bridge and a 1900 date for its erection in the present location. The bridge's historic appearance is clearly evident, as it has undergone only one major alteration -- an asphalt overlay which allowed the change of the bridge's use from rail to vehicular traffic. The wooden pilings on which the bridge trusses rest have been replaced over the years through routine maintenance. The swing-span bridge is a two-span riveted Warren through truss with verticals.
The Levert-St. John bridge was erected at the request of J.B. Levert, the owner of St. John Plantation, located on the bayou's east bank just south of the bridge. A January 1908 contract indicates that in 1900 Levert asked the Morgan's Louisiana & Texas Railroad & Steamship Company to extend their tracks across Bayou Teche for his "convenience and benefit" -- to service his sugar refinery operation which was located on the bank of the bayou. An earlier agreement with the rail company had allowed tracks to be constructed on Levert's plantation property for the benefit
of the railroad.
Levert purchased and erected the bridge crossing the bayou and the rail company then laid the tracks, providing materials and labor. According to Levert's contract with the rail company, the bridge was erected in 1900; a plate which forms part of the portal bracing indicates a presumable construction date of 1895.
Levert's plantation and sugar operation, the Levert-St. John Company, was founded in 1880 and became a strong player in the local economy. Levert himself served as president of the Louisiana Sugar Exchange in the 1880s and was recognized in 1892 as "one of the prominent and leading men of the new South."
The bridge is 264 feet long and 14.7 feet wide, allowing for only one lane of traffic. It is composed of two Warren trusses and a center component of generally rectangular shape, which allows for operation of the "swing-span" aspect of the bridge; as wedges are removed from the four corners of the bridge, the bridge can rise from its original level and swing open, allowing the passage of water traffic. In its open position, the bridge allows unlimited vertical clearance and approximately 50 feet of horizontal clearance. Due to increasing difficulty in opening the span, however, the bridge has been opened only two times in the past ten years. According to one source, the asphalt overlay of the bridge apparently occurred in the late 1950s, when the sugar mill ceased utilizing the railroad as a means of cane transportation. The St. John Mill may have been the last sugar mill to use rail transport.
Each of the bridge's two Warren trusses are composed of four panels which exhibit a
pattern of diagonal and vertical bracing. The smaller vertical members are solid pieces, while the diagonal members are reinforced with single bar lacing. The center component is also reinforced with single bar lacing, as are the top lateral braces of the Warren trusses. The bridge features inclined end posts, which are more common than vertical end posts in the Warren truss design.
Assessment of Integrity:
Alterations to the Levert-St. John Bridge have been limited to an asphalt overlay of the bridge to modify its usage. As the oldest known bridge in Louisiana, as well as the only known bridge of its type in the state, the Levert-St. John Bridge retains sufficient integrity and significance to warrant candidacy for the National Register.
Significant dates 1895, 1900
Old Castillo Hotel
The Old Castillo Hotel is set on the west bank of Bayou Teche near the center of St.
Originally it was built as a two and one half story, brick bearing wall building with a central hall plan and a one-story gallery in front. The following changes have been made:
1) The front gallery, which was surmounted by a second floor balcony, has been removed due to rot.
2) Two of the interior walls have been moved to provide for a large classroom on each side of the downstairs central hall, and a small principal's office and bathroom.
3) The elliptical fan-lighted front door was moved over one bay towards the center of the house,- and a decorative door from has been added around it.
4) All chimneys and mantels have been removed.
5) A rear wing has been added.
6) The front French doors, which originally characterized both stories of the facade, have been replaced by ordinary sash windows with paneled infill below.
Despite these changes, many salient features of the original building remain. These include the form and basic shape of the building, the bay pattern, the structure, and most of the windows.
Much of the detailing also remains, including the three handsome Federal dormers, many of the interior door and window frames, and the roofline frieze. The entire frame structure also remains.
In any case the present owners have every intention of returning the hotel to its original facade appearance. In addition the interior restoration architect Robert Smith (vita enclosed) has indicated that despite the altered facade, restoration would be relatively easy.
SPECIFIC DATES c.1835
BUILDER/ARCHITECT Jean Pierre Vasseur, builder
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Old Castillo Hotel is of commercial and social significance because it is the only surviving example of the type of hotel which served the steamboat trade on Bayou Teche during the era of steamboat transportation. Steamboat travelers stayed there, along with other visitors to St. Martinville, which in this period was a fashionable resort as well as a commercial focal point. In addition, the hotel served the community as a restaurant-and tavern, and as a setting for community
activities, including balls, parties, and banquets. Today it is generally recognized by local citizens as a historical landmark reflecting St. Martinville's heritage as a steamboat town.
Extensive research into court records and old newspapers indicates that this building was probably constructed between 1835 and 1840 as a residence or business-residence combination by Jean Pierre Vasseur, a local merchant. Vasseur advertised in the Attakapas Gazette (December 19, 1840) the opening of the Union Ballroom (Salle de l'Union),"handsomely decorated and furnished," offering "an excellent room with a good fire"... especially for the use of the ladies as a dressing room.
Another room with a fire for gentlemen who may wish to retire to play at domino (sic) or other games." The ad announced that a gumbo would be served in the "grand hall" and "liquors of the first quality" would be furnished at the bar. An invitation addressed to a “Madame Veuve Veillon et sa Famille" dated January 12, 1841, requests their presence at "le Bal de Societe" to be held at "Salle de l'Union chez Vasseur" in St. Martinville on January 23, 1841.
St. Martin de Tours Church, 133 South Main Street, was designed ca. 1825 by architect Robert R. Benson. National Register of Historic Places.
Court records and census records indicate that the building was owned by Charles Dutel from 1843 to 1850, at which time it was sold to Don Louis Broussard who continued the operation of the hotel to 1858. From 1858 to 1876, the brothers Anton and Wilhelm Hesse owned and managed the establishment known under their stewardship as “Maison des Allemands." During these Civil War years, the building continued to serve as a meeting place and focal point for community activities.
Under the succeeding ownership of Charles Gauthier, the Charles Gauthier Estate, and
Stanislas Dabadie (1876-1899), the building reached its foremost significance. It was during this period that Delia Greig Castillo, widow of a well-known steamboat captain, Edmond Castillo, undertook the management, and the hotel soon became known for its fine hospitality.
In 1885, Madame Castillo's granddaughter, Eva Bonin, was married to Alphonse Guerin,
who first distinguished himself locally when he was appointed librarian for a subscription library which was established at the hotel. Guerin, a gourmet cook by avocation, brought fame to the hotel and the St. Martinville area by catering banquets and dinners which were praised in area news media for the originality of the menus and the expertise of the cook.
In the spring of 1887, Charles Dudley Warner, noted journalist, described in Harper's New Monthly Magazine his visit to the hotel.
The Old Castillo Hotel, 220 Evangeline Boulevard, was built in 1829. Also known as Mercy High School, the building was for about a century the home of a Catholic school operated by the Sisters of Mercy. It is now the Old Castillo Bed and Breakfast. National Register of Historic Places.
When St. Martinville was again visited by a noted writer in 1890, the Castillo Hotel was the only hotel in town. Dr. Alcee Fortier, distinguished educator and historian, chronicles his overnight stay at the hotel in his article "Acadians of Louisiana and Their Dialect." The hotel is mentioned in an excerpt from this article used by Edwin A. Davis in compiling his textbook on Louisiana history which is still in use today.
The Evangeline Oak (left, at end of Evangeline Boulevard), and Old Castillo Hotel (right).
The death of Madame Castillo in April, 1899 brought a close to the hotel era of the building.
A month later, the property was purchased by the Sisters of Mercy for the purpose of expanding their educational facilities which already encompassed most of that block. For the past eighty years this building has housed Mercy High School.
Belle Cherie faces north on top of a hill which overlooks Bayou Tortue approximately 4 miles due west of St. Martinville. The 2 story house is set in the side of the hill so that the rear of the brick first story is half buried. The main (2nd) story is formed of pegged framing with brick nogging which is carefully laid and pointed.
The attic is unfinished.
The plan contains both English and French features. English features include the central hall double parlor plan and the axial entrance to the hall on the main story. French features include the front and rear gallery circulation with French doors into most of the rooms and the staircase to the attic which is entered directly from the rear gallery.
The central halls on both floors are unusually wide (16 feet). Even more unusual, both have fireplaces set against a side wall. The two main chimneys are set between the front and rear rooms either side of the central hall. All mantels are of the simple Greek Revival aedicule type, though the moldings wrap around the chimneys. A small enclose quarter turn winding stair is set in a rear corner of the lower hall, which communicates with the upper hall. It appears that these stairs are original and that the 2 sets of gallery stairs were added later.*
The large pitched roof is lit by 3 equally spaced Federal style dormers front and rear. The upper gallery columns are simple posts with molded capitals. The original balustrades remain. Most of the original 12 light French doors and beaded board shutters remain. Sash windows are 6 over 6.
All of the beams are exposed and beaded.
The house has been changed little since it was built. The exterior front and rear gallery stairs appear to have been added, a portion of the rear gallery has been enclosed for a bathroom, and a concrete retaining wall has been built under the rear gallery.
Assessment of Integrity:
The above changes should be regarded as minimal. They have had no effect upon one's
perception of the house's historic character.
Belle Cherie (c.1851) is a 2 story, frame and brick plantation house which reflects both the French and English architectural traditions in Louisiana. The house is located in a rural hilltop setting overlooking Bayou Tortue. It has been changed very little since it was built; hence there is no integrity problem.
*These are exterior staircases which descend from the upper front and rear galleries to the ground.
The one in the front descends from the center and the one in the rear descends from the east end.
Specific dates c.1857
Builder/Architect Builder: David Sandoz
The Soulier House is a one-story frame Queen Anne Revival style dwelling with primarily Eastlake detailing. It stands within a mixed commercial and residential block on St. Martinville's Main Street only a short distance from the parish seat's central business district. A Sanborn Fire Insurance Map indicates that a small house with a bay window stood on the site in 1903. A Sanborn map (1909) and architectural evidence clearly indicate that the house was greatly enlarged during the six years between publication of the two maps to create the dwelling one sees today. (The latter evidence consists of the outline of a removed bay in the floor of one enlarged room and the fact that the woodwork surrounding the windows and doors does not match throughout the home.) Thus, for all practical purposes, the house can be said to date to c.1905, and that date will be used for this nomination. Although it has experienced alteration over the years, the c.1905 Soulier House maintains its National Register eligibility.
Three important architectural features define the style of the Soulier House as Queen Anne.
1) a wraparound gallery (whose Eastlake styling will be described below),
2) complex massing created by:
a) an asymmetrical floor plan which can best be described by dividing it into
parts. The front range features a central hall flanked by a room on each side. The
middle range contains several spaces, one of which projects sidewards beyond the
side portion of the wraparound gallery. The third portion of the floor plan projects
toward the rear and contains a dining room and rear hall. A cross gable roof
surmounts the asymmetrical footprint this plan creates.
b) the positioning of a conical roof, capped by a finial, at the corner of the
previously mentioned wraparound gallery. This roof is highly suggestive of a turret,
one of the hallmarks of the Queen Anne style.
3) the use of textured surfaces in certain areas. These include a decoratively-cut
bargeboard outlining the front gable and corbeling outlining the chimney tops.
Most of the home's Eastlake decoration is found on the gallery. It consists of turned
columns resembling table legs and an elaborate combination of elements outlining the gallery's roofline. These elements include a spindlework screen featuring short abacus-like rods. The lower edge of the screen is trimmed with a scalloped band. In addition, each of the gallery's bays is highlighted by knobs and pierced brackets. Although unusual, the gallery's balustrade (consisting of punch work openings) is not specifically Eastlake or Queen Anne Revival. Other architectural features of interest found on the exterior of the c.1905 home include a large front window which
combines elements of the Colonial Revival and Queen Anne styles and an Italianate door serving as a side entrance to the home from the gallery. Interior elements dating to c.1905 include a Colonial Revival screen separating two rooms, a set of pocket doors, four simple mantels with bull's eye corner blocks, and bull's eye corner block molding above many doors.
The Soulier House, 417 North Main Street, is a late Victorian (ca. 1900) Queen Anne cottage. National Register of Historic Places.
The Soulier House has experienced two additional renovations since the c. 1905 work which determined its size and exterior appearance. These alterations have greatly changed the original floorplan, although the footprint as described above remains intact. The majority of changes appear to have occurred during the early 1970s, the rest during the 1990s.
1) the installation and later modernization of two bathrooms and the creation of a third. The later project necessitated the removal of one interior door and the reconfiguration of space in the middle of the house. Thus, the work created a major change in the floorplan.
2) the modernization of the kitchen.
3) the addition of a one-room side projecting space at one rear corner. Although connected to the main house, the newer space must be entered from its own porch or its rear door rather than from the house itself. The balustrade on the addition's front porch has purposely been made to match that on the home's wraparound gallery. A utility room and carport have also been added to the rear of the home.
4) the installation of two sets of French doors used to close off parts of the house which serve as a bed and breakfast operation, the addition of a large stained glass window to the facade wall of one room, and the alteration of the glass within the front door.
The majority of the alterations discussed above have impacted the interior only, and the home's exterior Queen Anne Revival and Eastlake styling remains intact. It is these stylistic elements upon which the home's National Register eligibility rests. As a superior example of the Queen Anne-Eastlake taste within the town of St. Martinville, the Soulier House is a meritorious candidate for National Register listing.
Significant dates c.1905
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church
The church was originally of a simple rectangular plan of the Roman basilica type, the nave being separated from the side aisles by rows of sturdy Doric columns of simple square pedestals. In the 1870's the church was enlarged by the extension of the nave and the addition of the semi-circular apse and the transepts. A handsome octagonal belfry with a bell-shaped roof was placed at the apex of the apse. There are four tall, semicircular head windows on each side of the building with two more similar ones in each transept. Their double hung sashes are divided into small lights and filled with colored glass, forming a cross in each window. In the apse are two additional windows filled with stained glass from a Cincinnati manufactory.
The front of the church is divided into three bays by projecting pilasters, reflecting the interior division of nave and side aisles.
In each bay is a tall, semi-circular headed entrance door, recessed in an enframement of Romanesque type mouldings which were added when the facade was remodeled in the 1920's or 30's. The facade is crowned by a tall square steeple with a tapered spire. The steeple has lost its original mouldings and the central bay of the facade has been extended up through the former pediment to form an apparent square base for the steeple These exterior alterations are largely superficial and old photographs show its original appearance to which it could be easily restored.
On the interior, the walls and columns are plastered over brick. The floor and ceilings are of wood, the ceilings of the side aisles and transepts being flat while those of the nave and apse rise to a greater height in a coved form. A deep cornice surrounds the nave and apse, with smaller cornices for the side aisles and transepts. The sacristies flank the sanctuary in the continuation of the side aisles. One of these has been utilized for the housing of mechanical equipment and a
modern, two story addition has been made to the other sacristy.
The pews are largely original of the box type with doors. Additional pews have been made in the same manner. Above the main altar is a fine painting of St. Martin painted by Jean Francois Mouchet. The altar and resedos are otherwise undistinguished and are of 20th century origin. A curious grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes was added in one of the transepts in the late 19th century. A
fine baroque baptismal font in white marble, a gift from Louis XVI of France to the Church, stands in the baptistry at the rear of the church. The entrance vestibule is through the massive wall of the tower base, flanked on one side by the baptistry and on the other by an interesting stairway to the choir loft.
The church is flanked by a two story rectory on the right and a two story parish hall on the left. Both buildings ante-date the Civil War, though the rectory has been extensively remodeled. It could, however, be readily restored. The parish hall on the left has a two story porch with pediment.
Both buildings are of frame construction, and the structure face a large grass covered and tree shaded park, forming a dominant and impressive element in the town plan.
In a small graveyard at the side of the church is a bronze seated statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's heroine Evangeline, donated by the movie actress Delores del Rio who played the part in the picture "Evangeline" filmed in the area in 1929. In front of the church stands a statue of Father Jan, an early pastor and in front of the rectory is a statue of St. Martin of Tours, patron of the town
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
This church was founded in 1765 by a group of Acadian exiles who arrived that year, the first of many of these unfortunate refugees, driven from Canada by the English, who came to Louisiana over a period of some twenty years. It was these exiles who established the Acadian culture and traditions that have left an indelible imprint upon the State of Louisiana. m e French military engineer, Lieutenant Louis Andry, on order of Governor Charles Philippe Aubry, accompanied the first group of exiles to the Attakapas country and probably laid out the town and designed the first church. A sketch of the early church drawn by Samuel M. Lee in the 1820's is in
the collection of the Henry Francis Dupont Winterthur Museum. By an act of the State Legislature approved March 7, 1814, the church was incorporated and another act approved March 16, 1820 authorized the congregation to conduct a lottery to raise funds to build a new church. m e present church was apparently erected some years after that, but the ceremony of consecration was not held until June 2, 1844. A contract for the construction of the present rectory or "Presbytere" was
awarded on July 11, 1856 to Robert R. Benson, builder. Extensive alterations were made to this building, mostly in the twentieth century, but the basic fabric of the building is intact and subject to restoration. The parish hall appears to be an ante-bellum building and my be the school which a contract was awarded on January 15, 1861to Alcee Judice and Prosper Moity according to plans by R. R. Benson.
The church has been the center of religious and cultural activities of St. Martinville and the Attakapas country since colonial days. In 1804 it was the scene of controversy when a priest appointed to the church by Pierre Clement deLaussat, French Commissioner, at the transfer of Louisiana from Spain to France and from France to the United States in 1803, was removed by Fr Patrick Walsh, vicar general, resulting in correspondence between W. C. C. Claiborne, first American Governor of the Louisiana Territory and James Madison, then Secretary of State and the church was closed by the civil authorities.
The connection between this church and Longfellow's poem "Evangeline" gives it a significance in literature and its association with the Delores del Rio motion picture gives it a significance in motion picture history.
St. Martin Parish Courthouse
The St. Martin Parish Courthouse is located on South Main Street in a modern commercial area approximately 2 blocks from the pending St. Martinville Historic District.
Constructed in the form of a 4 column Ionic temple, the stuccoed brick 2 story structure has a central hall plan on each floor. The 4 portico columns are of brick with stucco fluting. The bases and elaborate Ionic capitals are of cast iron. The temple effect is heightened by the single 2 story opening on the facade which provides a door below and a window above. All other windows are placed around the side.
In 1937 a large rear wing was added which contains the present courtroom, marble floors and dado were installed in the original building, the old front window and door were replaced, and an oculus was installed in the tympanum. In the 1950's and '60's 2 wings with their own pediments and pilasters were added. These, however, are recessed, thus allowing the original front to stand forth.
Although the St. Martin Parish Courthouse has been added to several times, and over half of the present building is not original, all the appendages have been set to the rear. These additions are screened from the original building by large live oak trees. Thus the old courthouse stands in a well-treed, parklike setting. What is remarkable is not that so much of the courthouse is not original, but that, with all the additions, the original building was not obliterated.
The interiors of the original building were largely reworked in 1937. For example, the wooden floors were removed and replaced by tile laid on a concrete base, marble wainscots and floors were installed in the lobby, and the lobby's original iron staircase was replaced. There are no noticeable interior features that remain from the 1859 construction. Evidently the original interiors were rather plain.
Specific dates 1859
St. Martinville Elementary School
The St. Martinville Elementary School (1922) is a large two story brick building with cast concrete trim located in an old residential section of town. To both sides and the rear are modern one story school buildings which house the parish's early learning center. Alterations to the historic school have been minimal.
The facade is articulated in a manner common for schools of the period, featuring projecting end pavilions and a central entrance section. The rear is marked by a two story section extending from the middle of the main building block. Although the entrance section projects forward only by a few inches, it is visually dominant, being framed by two story paneled Ionic pilasters and capped by a denticulated cornice and above that a shaped parapet. Within the shaped parapet are diamond
and strapwork designs. Crowning the entrance door is a large cartouche with swirling vine-like designs to each side. The end pavilions have stepped parapets, although the shape is not very pronounced. Other noteworthy exterior features include nine over two windows grouped in bands, an encircling cornice, and a simple belt course above the second story windows.
The interior is typical in its floor plan. A long hall runs through each floor with large classrooms grouped off of it. The rear wing has two large classrooms on each floor. Details include simple staircases set within arched openings, plaster over lath walls, doors with transoms and five horizontal panels, and six light transom-like interior windows to provide ventilation.
Alterations since construction include the following:
(1) The vacant building has suffered some deterioration, most notably the loss of the cornice on the western side elevation.
(2) A covered walkway has been attached to each of the side elevations to provide access to adjacent buildings in the school complex.
(3) The downstairs hallway is sheathed in fiberboard and the ceiling is covered with celotex tiles.
(4) There are two instances of two classrooms being made into one.
Assessment of Integrity:
As can be seen from the foregoing, the St. Martinville Elementary School on the whole is well preserved, suffering only minor changes since its opening in 1922. Hence it easily conveys its significance in the history of public education in St. Martin Parish.
Significant dates 1922
Architect/Builder Architects: Nolan & Torre, New Orleans
St. Martinville Historic District
There are forty-two buildings within the boundaries of the St. Martinville Historic District, three-fourths of which date from c.1820 to c.1910. The two major elements in the district are the church square and the surrounding old commercial-residential sector. There are ten intrusions, but they do not significantly threaten the district's overall historic character (as explained below).
Like many French Catholic settlements in Louisiana, the town of St. Martinville grew around a central church complex. The two block church square contains the 1840 Romanesque inspired church (#37), the Greek Revival parish hall (#36), and the 1857 rectory (#38) in a parklike setting with large overhanging live oak trees.
The space in this central square is solidly defined by a tightly packed line of commercial buildings on two sides. Most of these buildings come right up to the property line and have galleries.
As a result, the sidewalk is covered most of the way along the portions of Main Street and Bridge Street which fall in the commercial area. Though they range in date from 1835 to 1917, most are two stories with the classic urban formula of shops and storage below and residential apartments above.
A brick example (#s 3-5, c.1840 & c.1865) clearly shows this arrangement. The small scale chamfered gallery columns, French doors, and balcony dividers indicate residential space upstairs.
The interior features party walls, aedicule mantels, and transomed doors. As in most of the town's other early examples, the lower story is larger in scale than the upper story and has been modified numerous times, thereby obscuring the original fenestration pattern. Despite this, the basic geometry of the facade survives, as do most of the second story details.
A large frame 1899 example (#23) shows popular features such as tongue and groove
siding, plate glass windows, an Eastlake upper gallery, a cornice mounted parapet, a Colonial Revival elliptical arch, and bay windows downstairs. As with most of its brick and frame fellows, the shopfront fenestration is largely intact.
In a few instances, such as #6, an early nineteenth century commercial building received a new parapeted front at a later date. Greek Revival details are still evident on the upstairs interior of #6.
All of these earlier commercial buildings are noteworthy for their heavy roof structures. It seems that up until the Civil War carpenters were still installing simplified Norman trusses, despite the antiquity of the feature.
Most of the town's one story commercial buildings date from the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. An exception is the graceful Gary's Store-Fournet's Building (#s 1 & 2) with its pediment shaped parapet, lunette, and cast-iron front. A more typical example is Hebert's Jewelry (1895-#15) with its brick cornices, semi-hexagonal parapet, and corbelled bartizans. As with most of its kind, the gallery has been replaced within the past forty years due mainly to deterioration.
However, judging by old photographs, these newer galleries are of a similar simple character to the old. In addition, they can be viewed as continuing the tradition of Main Street galleries so prevalent in Louisiana towns of the nineteenth century.
In addition to commercial and ecclesiastical buildings, the district also contains some six historic residences. These are listed as contributing elements because, by helping to preserve the town's historic land use pattern, they enhance one's appreciation of St. Martinville as a nineteenth century commercial center. These residences demonstrate that nineteenth century downtown areas in South Louisiana were frequently characterized by a mix of commercial and residential structures.
The purely commercial central business district is largely a twentieth century phenomenon. Indeed, often the most pretentious residences in nineteenth century towns were located on the main commercial street. For example, in St. Martinville the Maison Duchamp (#39, N.R.) is located along Main Street.
INVENTORY BREAKDOWN ACCORDING TO PERIODS:
1820 - 1850 9 buildings 22%
1851 - 1880 7 buildings 17%
1881 - 1910 14 buildings 34%
1911 - 1931 2 buildings 4%
non-contributing 10 buildings 23%
Intrusions account for 23% of the district's buildings. In no case are they larger in scale than the district's historic buildings, either in terms of width or height. In addition, in most cases the intrusions are innocuously styled. There are only two exceptions to this -- buildings #s 28 & 29. Even in this case the scene is dominated by historic structures. On the whole, the district has a rightly paced overall historic character which is sufficiently emphatic that the ten intrusions pass almost
Contributing elements include those properties constructed between c.1820 and c.1930
which have not been significantly altered. Non-contributing elements are those properties constructed after c.1930 or earlier ones which have been significantly altered. They are labeled on the inventory as intrusions.
ST. MARTINVILLE HISTORIC DISTRICT INVENTORY
1-2. 214 and 216 South Main St. (one building -- two shops) Circa 1865. Three-bay brick commercial building. Shop windows and gallery replaced. Side carriageway with elliptical arched entrance. Louvered lunette in the central pedimented parapet. Tie bars with sunburst ornamentation on exterior of building.
3-5. 210, 206, 204 South Main Street (one building -- three shops) Structure dates from c.1830-1840; however, unit at 210 S. Main (#3) was apparently destroyed in a c.1859 fire and rebuilt in about 1865 with recycled materials.
Details include chamfered columns on upper gallery, French doors, and aedicule motif
mantels. Ground floor reworked in mid-twentieth century. Upper floor largely intact from nineteenth century.
6. 200 South Main. Basic form dates from c.1830. Two-story building with Norman truss roof and opera house on second floor. Originally had galleries on front and side. Greek Revival details remain on interior. Brick front with parapet added c.1915, galleries removed, and present shopfront built.
7. 134 South Main. Intrusion. Circa 1940 two-story brick commercial building.
8. 126 South Main. Intrusion. Circa 1940 two-story nondescript movie theatre.
9. 134 South Main. Intrusion. Two-story commercial building. Original building dates from c.1875, but front extensively reworked c.1940.
10. 132 South Main. Circa 1875. Two-story brick galleried commercial building. Originally residential upstairs and commercial downstairs. Square gallery posts and handsome French doors. Ground floor commercial facade recently reworked.
11-12. 130 South Main. Circa 1850. Pair of two-story, four-bay brick buildings. Originally built for business on lower floor and residence on upper. Double chimney and gabled parapet.
Turned Sheraton style wood columns on upper gallery. Wood railings replaced with
cast-iron. Ground floor facade recently reworked.
13. 122 South Main Street. Circa 1850. Commercial on lower floor/residence above. Wood frame, two-story structure with galleries. Cast-iron columns on lower level with original paneled shopfront. Upper gallery is Greek Revival with central front door with transom and side lights. Windows have simple pediments. Exposed gable end with weather siding and louvered shuttered windows on both floors.
14-15. 116 and 117 South Main. Thibodaux Cafe and Hebert's Jewelry Store. Pair of c.1899 brick one-story commercial buildings with elaborate corbelled decoration, terra cotta scalloped shell ornamentation, miniature turrets, broad arches, and multiple dentil cornices. Beautiful and noteworthy pressed tin ceiling and impressive cabinets in jewelry store.
16-17. 112 and 110 South Main. Circa 1900. Pair of one-story commercial buildings. Plain brick facade with corbelled cornice. 112 South Main (#16) has old if not original shopfront. 110 South Main (#17) has modern shopfront.
18. 108 South Main. Foti Grocery/Foti Residence above. Original building dates from 1917. Extensively reworked in 1931. Details from 1931 construction include galleried front with bungalow columns, multi-colored brickwork, elaborate parapet, pressed tin ceiling ornamented with laurel leaf pattern, and cast-iron ballooned columns with papyrus capitals on the lower gallery.
19. 106 South Main. Intrusion. One-story, nondescript. Building dates from c.1900, but it was extensively reworked in the 1960's.
20. 104 South Main. Attakapas Printing Company. Circa 1900-1910. Cast-iron fluted square columns at entrance and wood shopfront. One-story building. Pressed tin ceiling.
21. 102 South Main. Circa 1895-1900. Queen Anne Revival residence. One-and one-half
stories with Eastlake columns on raised curving gallery. Octagonal side turret with flared shingled skirting at the tip and surmounted by pressed tin onion dome. 22. 101North Main Street. Circa 1910 two-story brick commercial building. Shallow arches over windows.Dentil cornice treatment
23. 101 East Bridge Street. 1899. Two-story wood frame building. Upper gallery has Eastlake columns. Gallery extends around west side of building as well as across the front. Lower floor store has fenestration with framing boards and corner blocks. Segmented arch above center door at upper level.
24. 105 East Bridge. 1920's bungalow.
25. 107 East Bridge. Circa 1900. Two-story wood frame building. Eastlake upper gallery. Commercial/residential.
26. 109 East Bridge. Intrusion. Circa 1900 two-story frame structure which was extensively remodeled in 1960's.
27. 115 East Bridge. Intrusion. "A" frame. 1960's.
28. 117 East Bridge. Intrusion. 1978 one-story ranch style commercial structure.
29. 201 East Bridge. Intrusion. 1950's brick store. One-story with second story mansard roof added.
30. 205 East Bridge. Intrusion. 1950's small, one-story, brick office.
31. 207 East Bridge. Circa 1890-1900 two-story frame building with Eastlake columns on upper gallery.
32. 215 East Bridge. Circa 1899 two-story frame building. Commercial/residential. Simple styling with chamfered wood columns both upper and lower gallery. Scrollsawn
ornamentation on upper gallery.
33. 219 East Bridge. Circa 1900 wood frame cottage.
34. 220 East Bridge. Circa 1820. Frame Creole cottage with three rooms in the front and two rear cabinets. Noteworthy for its rare 12 over 12 windows. The fenestration, the form, and the plan survive; however, in the late 1970's the exterior clapboard surface was bricked over. The brick veneer is easy to remove, and, in any case, the house retains many of its original features. The State Historic Preservation Office decided to list the house as a contributing element on the advice of the Tax Act Coordinator, who suggested that it would be an excellent candidate for a conditional certification.
35. 225 East Bridge Street. Circa 1830 frame residence. Basic form, fenestration pattern, detailing of c.1830 house remain. Heavy bungalow style front porch, columns, and dormer added c.1930.
36. Church Green -- The Parish Hall, St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. 1861. Attributed to Robert Benson. Two-story wood frame. Greek Revival pedimented facade. Wood shingle roof evident from attic.
37. Church Green -- St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Built in 1840 and dedicated in 1844. National Register.
38. Church Green -- St. Martin of Tours Rectory. 1857. Attributed to Robert Benson. Two-story frame building. Heavily fluted wood columns added circa 1925, replacing a facade identical to that remaining on rear of building. Plate glass windows and 1970 aluminum siding, but retains much of the appearance of an 1850's building.
39. South Main Street. La Maison Duchamp. 1876. National Register.
40. 209 South Main Street. Intrusion. Circa 1940 two-story brick. Store on ground floor and meeting hall above.
41-42. Corner South Main and Old Market Streets. Vee's 5¢ & 10¢ and Robert's Lounge. Corner building housing Robert's Lounge built in 1897. In early 1900's adjacent building, now housing Vee's, was added in a similar style. Two-story brick commercial building with shallow arch fenestration and brick paneled parapet and corbelled cornice. Lower shopfronts modified. Original ceramic mosaic style flooring still visible at front entrance of lounge.
Specific dates c.1820-c.1930
Statement of Significance (in one paragraph)
The St. Martinville Historic District is significant in the following respects:
(1) It is architecturally significant on the local and state levels as an important
example of a small urban commercial center. In addition, it is architecturally
significant on the state level because of the surviving visual relationship between
the central church square and the surrounding town.
(2) It is significant in the area of exploration/settlement on the state level because of the unusual role the Catholic church played in its development.
(3) It is locally significant in the area of commerce because it is a visual reminder
of St. Martinville's importance as an interior port and commercial center.
The St. Martinville Historic District is significant in the area of architecture as an example of a nineteenth century interior port associated with the bayou steamboat trade. The downtown area contains the finest and largest collection of old commercial buildings to be found in St. Martin Parish.
In addition, of all the steamboat trading towns along the once important Bayou Teche trading route, St. Martinville has the only downtown area with a significant mixture of early and mid-nineteenth century commercial buildings and those of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Other old commercial areas along the Teche are almost completely characteristic of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (For purposes of this submission, buildings are considered early and
mid-nineteenth century if they date from the 1820's through the 1870’s -- brown and orange on the district map. Later buildings date from 1880 through 1931 and are shown as green and glue on the map.)
In addition, many Louisiana towns were founded around a dominant central church square. St. Martinville has a large parklike church square which is the center of the downtown area. Due largely to post-1900 redevelopment, this kind of relationship of church to town is visually evident in very few old towns in Louisiana.
Finally, the district derives considerable charm and character from the interplay of early and mid-nineteenth century structures with late nineteenth and early twentieth century structures. This lends a richness which is not often seen inasmuch as most of the older towns in Louisiana have a purer turn of the century character.
St. Martinville is significant in the area of exploration/settlement because it is the only town in Louisiana whose main district developed on property which had been donated to the Roman Catholic Church and which was later acquired by the individual owners not by virtue of an outright sale but only through a most unusual lease arrangement. The donation to the church by Bernard Dauterive in 1772 consisted of two 6 X 40 arpent tracts of land on either side of Bayou Teche which were a part of Dauterive's original grant from the Spanish government. The establishment of the
church at this particular place on Bayou Teche served to assure the growth of this location into a new community. Fr. Michael Bernard Barriere, an early pastor of the church who probably began the practice of renting these church lands, may have devised this plan as a means of accommodating the early inhabitants who wanted to experience this new frontier without incurring too great a financial risk. The first mention of this practice is in 1795 when Fr. Barriere, in the annual report to the Bishop of New Orleans, lists in the revenue of the church income from the "rental of church lands." The practice proved attractive and soon came under the jurisdiction of the church wardens or "fabrique," who on December 18, 1818, at a meeting of the Administrative Council, established procedures for a more businesslike plan. This was a lease-purchase agreement under which the lands owned by the church were surveyed, divided into lots, and leased for a period of 12 years after which time the leasee became the owner of record, but was required to pay an "annual and perpetual" rent to the-congregation. This apparently unique ecclesiastical land rent system continued in force in St. Martinville for almost 100 years.
St. Martinville gained importance after its incorporation in 1817 and experienced a period of rapid growth during which the townspeople realized the potential of its location on an important inland waterway. Contemporary with the appearance of the steamboat on the Mississippi River was the granting of a charter to the Attakapas Steam Company by the Louisiana legislature on February 26, 1819. Applicants for the charter were farsighted residents of St. Martinville who were anxious to bring the "bateau a vapeur" to the waters of Bayou Teche. St. Martinville's location at the head of navigation on the Teche soon made it an important commercial center.
Consequently the construction of a public wharf at the foot of Port Street and a public market nearby became a necessity. According to a petition to the state legislature concerning the regulations of the public market, the population of the town almost doubled between 1817, the year it was incorporated, and 1820, the year of the petition. St. Martinville remained a major commercial center until the late
nineteenth century when the steamboat trade stopped and railroad construction in the area bypassed the town. After that time it became only a local commercial center.
The primary focus of this application is the pre-1880 buildings; however, the later buildings also contribute to the district's significance. Most were subject to the aforementioned ecclesiastical land rent system as were the older structures.
Moreover, many of them continued to use the time honored commercial building configuration consisting of shop space downstairs and living space upstairs with front galleries. Thus they contribute to St. Martinville's identity as an old commercial center. Finally, these newer buildings contribute to the scene by providing an important part of the mix of buildings of various periods which make up St. Martinville's distinctive architectural character.
U. S. Post Office
The appearance of the structure is typical of the French and Spanish Colonial Period in Louisiana. The building measures fifty-two feet in width by sixty-three feet in length. It has a five foot basement and a very large attic. A well designed cupola tops the building.
Large galleries supported by cypress columns on concrete piers face the Bayou Teche to the east and the street to the west. Cast iron railings decorate the galleries.
The structure has thirty-six openings. On the lower floor there were ten large windows. The upper floor has twelve window and there are several exterior doors. This was in keeping with the necessity for cross ventilation in the hot, humid area.
The interior of the building, excluding the corridors consist of nine immense rooms.
The lower floor was divided into two bedrooms, parlor and dining room. The upper floor has four large rooms and a bath. The entire interior is plastered since all exterior walls were of brick.
There are four large chimneys built from the ground in the building. The decorative front portion of the fireplaces, rising from the mantelpieces are made of decorative cast iron.
A few feet to the rear of the old home was a large two-room structure. It was used as the kitchen and servants quarters.
About 1938 the building was converted to use as a Post Office and several modifications were made to the building. The original kitchen outside the main house was converted to a boiler room. A vault was added in the main house and several partitions were removed to make a lobby and work room. The original structure, however, is very well documented in the blueprints for the Post Office conversion. The exterior of the structure was renovated on a brick by brick basis and no
substantial change was made. By and large the change to Post Office usage was done without significant alteration of the basic building.
Statement of Significance
This residence offers several features of considerable historical significance as this residence has for nearly a century been a part of the history of St. Martinville an area which in itself is a living museum of the French-Spanish heritage of the area. The scale and predominance of the residence in the community make it especially important in maintaining the overall character of the community.
St. Martinville was heavily settled by refugees of the French nobility during the French Revolution and in its early days was famous as a "Style" center of south Louisiana. Today evidence of this rich-period in Louisiana still remains in the culture of the people and in the physical form of such building as the residence constructed in 1876 by Eugene Duchamp De Chastaignier. Mr. Duchamp came to St. Martinville from the West Indies and the home was designed as a replica of his sugar plantation home in Martinique.
Several features of the house make it significant among the early residences built in this area. The galleries are handled with the lacy iron grillwork characteristic of the homes built in New Orleans during that period. The problem of transportation was so difficult, being partly through the bayous and partly by portage through dangerous swamps, that such costly touches were usually not included. The bricks used in building this mansion were hand made of Louisiana red clay taken from
the banks of the Bayou Teche. Red cypress was used throughout the house. Fully matured trees from one to two thousand years old were selected in the swamp and cut and used for the house.
Eugene Duchamp De Chastaignier was an early mayor of St. Martinville. He took an active part in all the affairs of the city and parish. For thirty years he served as president of the St. Martin Parish Police Jury. He was also noted as a business leader and civic worker. It is said that the Duchamp family lost an estimated fortune of $75,000 between 1880 and 1884. In 1885 the premises was sold to Husville P. Fournet, a wealthy merchant. The Fournet heirs held the property until 1938 when it was acquired by the U. S. Post Office Department to be restored and used at the local Post Office.
It is especially significant that plans had already been drawn for a new building to be located on the site of the old residence as it was against Post Office regulations to renovate a building for Postal Facilities. With the aid of the local congressional delegation, the insistence of the people of St. Martinville, and the opinion of the U. S. Architect that this was indeed a landmark, it has become
the only private residence in the nation which has been preserved as a historical monument by conversion to a Federal Building.
In summary, the prime factors which make the Duchamp House significant are:
1. The rech historical background associated with the house.
2. The importance of the house in relation to the character of the community.
3. The notable Architectural features of the building.
The Fourgeaud House is a large two story frame residence built in a distinctly southern version of the Colonial Revival style. Located on its original site in the St. Martin Parish town of Breaux Bridge, the home stands amid commercial properties on the edges of the community’s central business district. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps indicate the house was constructed between 1899 and 1907. Hence a date of c. 1905 is being used for the purposes of this nomination. The house has received very little alteration since its construction and clearly retains the grand architectural character associated with what is termed by some as the Southern Colonial style.
Although the house is not antebellum in age, it was built to look like a plantation house of the colossal column type popular throughout the South. This sub-category of the Colonial Revival came in two forms – one featuring a colossal order gallery spanning the facade, the other distinguished by a colossal Palladian-like portico resembling a temple front. The Fourgeaud House is of the latter sub-type. Its portico features four colossal Tuscan columns and two similar pilasters, all of which display necking below their capitals. These vertical members support a full
entablature which outlines the portico’s front and sides. The entablature, in turn, is surmounted by a large pediment with a raking cornice. A lunette window pierces the pediment’s tympanum.
A second floor balcony whose Colonial Revival balustrade is distinguished by four heavy newel posts is tucked behind the colossal columns. This balcony, supported by iron rods connecting to beams within the roof structure, does not touch the columns themselves.
Other Colonial Revival features found on the exterior include a more simple entablature encircling the remaining structure, a gallery balustrade which lacks the newel posts found on the balcony, and two gable end returns on the rear elevation. Although not associated specifically with the Colonial Revival style, the house also has lower and upper floor entrances featuring transoms and sidelights, large four-over-four windows (flanked by shutters on the facade), slender corner boards and slightly overhanging eaves.
Eight period mantels with overmantels are the interior’s only specific Colonial Revival features. Other elements of architectural interest include original drapery hardware surviving in the parlor and the interior’s woodwork. This includes a winder staircase and an Eastlake grille in the lower floor central hall, four panel doors surmounted by large transoms, wooden floors outlined by tall molded baseboards, molded door and window surrounds distinguished by bull’s eye corner blocks, and one set of pocket doors (still operable).
The floorplan is divided into two areas – a formal front family space and a more narrow rear service wing. The family area (whose plan is identical on each floor) is organized around a central hall with two rooms on each side, while the service space contains a warren of small rooms on each floor. These include a kitchen, rear stairwell, butler’s pantry with an original window opening to the dining room, breakfast area, and bathrooms.
The house has experienced only minor changes over the years. These include the
possible enclosure of an open rear lower story porch, the possible replacement of some windows on the rear service block, the remodeling of the kitchen in the 1940s or 1950s, the installation of tile ceilings (in the process of being removed as part of a current renovation), the piercing of one original door to create a return air vent when the home received central heat and air, the placement of carpet on the staircase and in the upstairs hall, the replacement of the lower story front door (as well as the glass in the accompanying transom and sidelights), and the covering of the walls with sheetrock.
None of these alterations has seriously impacted the house’s architectural character.
Except for the replaced door and glass, the monumental facade can be said to be virtually intact.
Thus, the Fourgeaud House retains the overall grand white-columned look upon which its architectural significance is based and is a strong candidate for National Register listing.
Significant Dates: c. 1905
Katie Plantation House
Originally located in Vermilion Parish, Katie Plantation House was moved in 2000 to its present location on Lake Martin (also known as Lake la Pointe) in nearby St. Martin Parish to save it from destruction. Built c.1840, the French Creole house retains most of its original character-defining features, although there has been some replacement due to the deteriorated condition of the house in its original location.
The house was located near Perry in Vermilion Parish on the former Katie Plantation.
Vacant for decades, the house was deteriorated and had lost its front porch. The two brothers who owned the property no longer had a use for the house and were contemplating demolition. The present owner was able to buy the house providing it be re-located. The house was moved some forty miles to its present site on Lake Martin. The core was moved in one piece, but the roof had to be removed and reassembled (which was done very carefully, numbering each element). The house is at some distance from the lake in a discrete, secluded setting enveloped by numerous mature trees and other vegetation. While there are other houses strung along the road ringing the lake, the overall setting remains rural and has a feeling of
remoteness, despite the small town of Breaux Bridge being nearby. (While the house has a Breaux Bridge address, it is not in Breaux Bridge proper.)
The House and Restoration:
The gable end house features pegged, colombage construction with steep angle braces (in the French manner).
The infill material on the perimeter walls is bousillage (a mixture of mud, Spanish moss and animal hair) and on the interior walls, briquette entre poteaux (bricks between posts). As noted previously, the porch floor and columns were gone in the
original location. The present simple posts were installed as part of the restoration. Their placement was based upon notches in the plate above. The otherwise strongly French Creole house shows some Anglo-American influence in the symmetrical placement of the façade openings. There is a French door and window for each of the two front rooms. (The symmetry is only on the exterior. The rooms themselves are of unequal size.) The French doors are new, but based upon what would be appropriate for a house of this age. (They feature eight panes of glass per leaf.
Above is the original four pane transom.) Windows, most of which are in-kind replacements, are six over six. One set of window shutters survived; the remainder are replications. In typical French Creole fashion, the porch ceiling features exposed beams.
The steps leading from the front gallery to the attic date from the restoration.
There was physical evidence to show that there was a stair. The present configuration is based upon the recollections of one of the former owners, who
remembers the stair and recalled that it had a turn. (An attic stair on the front gallery is far more typical of houses built by Acadians, who began to arrive in the region in large numbers in the 1760s. They were from Nova Scotia, or Acadia.)
The house has a typical French Creole floorplan in that there is no hall. There are two front rooms of unequal size (sharing one chimney) and three rooms of unequal size across the back. There is no evidence that the middle rear room was ever an open loggia, as is sometimes seen in French Creole houses. The middle rear room did not, and does not, have direct access to the adjacent rear rooms. It can be entered only from one of the front rooms. Originally, plaster covered the bousillage and briquette entre poteaux, but most of it was gone when the present owner rescued the house, as was most of the bousillage in the side walls and a small percentage of the briquette entre poteaux. Work has already begun on replacing the bousillage, and eventually the walls will be re-plastered. The house has exposed ceiling beams
throughout, its original plank doors, and two mantels that wrap around the chimney flue in the French manner. The identical mantels feature a layered shelf, splayed pilasters and a diamond-point French lozenge design in the entablature.
(The chimneys, of course, were rebuilt as part of the move. The mantels at present are not affixed to the chimney breasts because the plasterwork still needs to be done.) The antique ambiance of the house is enhanced by the original wooden floors left in a natural state.
In addition to the replacement noted above, the present owner added a kitchen (constructed of salvaged materials) to the rear of the house. The two are connected via a fairly narrow passageway, with the result that the composition reads largely as two buildings.
Assessment of Integrity:
The move is not a serious integrity issue because the new setting is compatible to the old – i.e., rural. And, very importantly, the house’s original and new parish share the same cultural history. Both were populated by people of French descent, and French Creole houses were the norm in both. Finally, the house is important enough to be nominated within a regional context (see Part 8); hence, the move from one parish to another is not an issue.
While there has been replacement of original fabric, this also is not a serious problem in terms of Register eligibility. To recap, because of the deteriorated condition of the house, the following are replacements rather than the original: most of the windows, all but one set of shutters, the porch posts, on-going work on missing bousillage, and the French doors. Fortunately, this work has been done very sensitively. And very importantly, almost all of those features which define the house’s French Creole character are original and unaltered: specifically, the floor plan, French joinery in the form of steep angle braces, about half of the bousillage and almost all of the briquette entre poteaux, exposed ceiling beams on the porch and throughout the interior, and the two distinctive wraparound mantels with their diamond-point lozenge.
SIGNIFICANT DATES: c. 1840
The Olivier Pigeonnier (c.1827) is a two-story frame outbuilding which is presently located in an open rural setting on the grounds of the Henri Penne House (N.R ) approximately one mile west southwest of the town of Breaux Bridge It was moved some twenty-two miles in 1981 from Olivier in Iberia Parish to its current location in St. Martin Parish. Despite the move and the in kind replacement of the roof shingles, the pigeonnier is rare enough within the context of the state to merit listing in the National Register.
The Olivier Pigeonnier is a hip roof structure measuring nine feet square and twenty feet tall. Its walls are constructed of four inch by four inch hand sawn cypress timbers mortised and pegged together, and are sheathed on the exterior with one inch by twelve inch flush boarding on the first story and seven inch beaded Creole siding on the second story. The hip roof retains its original decoratively cut out-lookers (rafter ends), its central king post, and its purling. The split cedar shingles are an in kind replacement. A distinctive "drip cap'' punctuates the division between the
flush boarded first story and the weather boarded upper story.
The difference in first and second story wall texture echoes visually the surfaces of
contemporaneous raised cottage plantation houses. Access to each of the levels is gained by a single batten door. No pigeon holes or nest boxes are evident, which makes this an "inactive pigeonnier." Pigeonniers usually came in pairs made up of one with provisions for raising pigeons and another without such appurtenances. The Olivier Pigeonnier is of the latter type, and was used
principally as a storage building and decorative landscape feature on what must have been a complete plantation complex.
Assessment of Integrity:
1. The Move: The Olivier Pigeonnier is significant on the state level Hence the twenty-two mile move from Olivier to the Breaux Bridge vicinity has not affected the context for its significance. In any case, the move was necessary in order to save the building. The pigeonnier was in deteriorated condition in its old location, and in a few years would have collapsed. The present owner purchased the pigeonnier with the understanding that he would move and restore it.
2. The Shingles: This change should be regarded as minor There is hardly a building
standing in Louisiana of the vintage of the pigeonnier which has not had its roof covering replaced several times.
Specific dates c.1827
Builder/Architect Joseph Terence Bienvenue Devince & Alexander Bienvenue Devince
Statement of Significance (in one paragraph)
The Olivier Pigeonnier is significant on the state level as a rare surviving example of a building type which was once common in Louisiana In addition, it is significant on the local level as the finest of four examples known to exist in a three parish area.
Pigeonniers are one of the most direct links between Louisiana architecture and the
architecture of provincial France. At one time almost every Creole plantation had one or more pigeonniers featured prominently on the grounds near the main house.
This is evidenced by Adrian Persac paintings and by plantation inventories of the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries.
As far as the State Historic Preservation Office is aware, there are only about thirty pigeonniers remaining in Louisiana. Also, of these, the Olivier Pigeonnier is believed to be the only one with a midway drip cap, a feature found on the majority of the numerous surviving pigeonniers in France.
The Olivier Pigeonnier is also locally significant within the context of Lafayette, St. Martin and Iberia Parishes There are no other pigeonniers in St. Martin Parish, only two one-story examples in Lafayette Parish' and remnants of one in Iberia Parish. Of these few survivors, the Olivier Pigeonnier is noteworthy because it is the only one which is both in good repair and of two full stories.
The Patin House (c. 1895) is a one-and-one half story, frame Queen Anne style cottage
showing strong Eastlake influence. It stands opposite City Hall on a heavily traveled street at the edge of Breaux Bridge's central business district. Although the home has undergone a few modifications since its construction, its National Register eligibility remains intact.
Documentary evidence suggests that the home’s rear ell was built first, perhaps as early as 1878. However, the main block appears to date from the 1890s. It includes a lower story which has five rooms and a central hall, and an upper floor containing two rooms and a stair hall.
Queen Anne features found on the Patin Home include a wraparound gallery with a
forty-five degree corner cut, a hexagonal bay also featuring forty-five degree corner cuts, and a steeply pitched roof with cross gable and dormer.
Eastlake elements include:
1) gable and dormer bargeboards featuring a wheel motif,
2) scroll sawed brackets pierced by cutouts in the shape of birds in flight,
3) turned porch columns,
4) spindle bands outlining the gallery roof,
5) a balustrade composed of balusters carved in an unusual square configuration,
6) pendants suspended from the gable which projects over the hexagonal bay, and
7) two glass-above-wood paneled front doors whose carved lower sections feature
unusual radial motifs.
In addition to its Queen Anne and Eastlake characteristics, the home features several other interesting elements. These include:
1) unusual interior window shutters divided into three moveable paneled and louvered
2) ceilings over 13 feet in height,
3) a Palladian window piercing the front gable,
4) two slip head windows opening onto the gallery,
5) beaded wainscotting in several rooms, and
6) an entrance featuring a transom and sidelights. The latter are rounded ;n a manner
suggesting the Italianate style.
The home's mantels and other woodwork are typical of that manufactured during the late nineteenth century.
Changes to the home have been relatively minimal. They include the screening and
enclosure of part of the side gallery, the loss of the home's several chimney tops, the insertion of a closet in one downstairs room, the installation of a bath, the addition of a pantry room at the end of the elf, and the enlargement of the rear porch. None of these alterations seriously impacts the appearance of the home.
Although the loss of the chimney tops is regrettable, the home's massing
remains otherwise intact. Except for the screened and enclosed section of the side gallery, the facade also remains unchanged. The gallery's Eastlake decorative features also remain in place within the enclosed space, and a planned restoration will soon return the gallery to its original open configuration. Finally, the minor additions at the rear of the home do not affect the facade. As one of only a handful of major Queen Anne/Eastlake style residences surviving in Breaux Bridge, the Patin
House is well worthy of National Register listing.
Significant dates c.1895
The Pellerin-Chauffe House (c.1896) is a large one-and-a-half story frame Queen Anne
Revival-Eastlake cottage located on Bayou Teche about half a mile below the town of Breaux Bridge. The house has been little altered since its construction and hence has suffered no loss of integrity.
The house has a central hall with three rooms on one side and two rooms on the other.
There is also a rear kitchen-dining room wing. The staircase leads to the open attic. The house has two semi-hexagonal bays, one of which is set under a large forward projecting gable. The main gallery wraps around two sides of the house and enlivens the massing by cutting the corner at forty-five degrees. The roof features a single, off-center, oversized dormer. The frontal gable features scroll sawn decorative infill, Eastlake brackets under the corners, and a central stained glass window. The main gallery features bulging, shafted Eastlake columns, a balustrade, and an upper spindle screen. Each column has three scroll brackets, two of which support the spindle screen and one of which supports the eave Some of the rooms communicate with the gallery via floor-length plate glass windows. There is also a rear kitchen gallery.
The interior features tongue and groove wainscotting, Eastlake mantels, and transomed
door frames with cornerblocks. Since construction part of the main gallery has been screened in, two chimney tops have been removed, and a rear door has been replaced In our opinion, these changes should be regarded as minor.
To the rear of the house are a shed , cistern, well house, two barns, two chicken houses and a feeder coop, all of which are roughly contemporaneous with the main house. They are all listed as contributing elements because they help establish the Pellerin-Chauffe House’s identity as a historic rural property. They illustrate that houses of this kind often had numerous outbuildings, although many comparable examples no longer retain them.
Specific dates c.1896
Builder/Architect Builder Edmond Pellerin Carpenter: Emile Bergeron