Sunday, July 31, 2016

Slidell Baptist Church

A photograph of the Slidell Baptist Church in its early days. It was organized with 11 members and built on land donated in 1892 by Fritz and Rosa Salmen. Click on the image below to see a larger version. 




Bogue Falaya Park Pavilion

Over the past 100 years, the pavilion at Bogue Falaya Park in Covington has played an important part in the community's activities, both as a spot for special events as well as a place to just enjoy the trees and the river. 

Here is a series of photographs of the park pavilion, in its various manifestations, since it tended to get rebuilt after every flood that seriously damaged it or wiped it away completely. Click on the images below to make them appear larger.









Flood damage in the 1920's (above)






Over the years the pavilion has been used for a large variety of purposes, including field trips for local groups of school children. 



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The Documentation for Placement on the 
National Registry of Historic Places 

    On  August 17, 2017,  Bogue Falaya Park was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The narrative description of the park listed on the NRHP application went as follows (with some editing):

     Within the park are two significant structures, the main being the pavilion situated at the end of the turning circle/ parking lot area within the park. The dominant feature of the park, the current pavilion was constructed in 1915 and has acted continuously as an important community gathering center for the city of Covington. 

    The Bogue Falaya Park is significant for recreation and entertainment as the park has provided a recreational space that was not only used by locals, but residents of New Orleans as well, for over 100 years. The historic resources within the park have been continually used by residents and visitors and retain a high degree of integrity. 

    Due to the relative health of the city of Covington and the access to the river, recreation became a large part of the Bogue Falaya and its banks. The land for the park was bought from G.R Tolson in 1908 by the City of Covington to establish a 13-acre park. The park was officially opened on July 1st, 1909. The city maintained the park from that time until 1938 when it was gifted to the State of Louisiana who managed it until 1978 when it was given back to Covington. 

 The original pavilion was constructed in 1907 and was destroyed in a storm in 1915, which necessitated the building of the existing structure. Even prior to the formal designation of the park, this original pavilion and riverbank area was a popular destination and a source of pride for residents and a featured tourism spot. 

    Multiple post cards were developed in this time with renderings and photographs of the pavilion. One shows visitors walking to the pavilion with their buggies parked in the grass.

   Up until the 1960s, the park was a popular swimming spot for the residents of Covington, and on the weekends, residents of New Orleans. The pavilion was used as a gathering space for visitors to the park. The pavilion offers an open space for people to gather under and, when the park was still open for swimming, it offered a counter where you could purchase a basket of swimming essentials. 



Behind the counter were showers and changing areas for swimmers. In the front, to the left-hand side was a concession stand where visitors could buy an assortment of refreshments. A jukebox was also in the pavilion. During the period of significance, the pavilion and park were open all night and became a place for teenagers to dance. 



     The Bogue Falaya Park is significant because of the popularity of the park among residents of Covington and the pivotal role the pavilion played in providing services, entertainment, and a break from the heat during a time when tourism and recreation on the Northshore was at an unsurpassed rate. This park provided the main recreational access to the river and was a true center of the community during the hot months. The park and pavilion were also used for private family parties and gatherings as well as public town events throughout the year.  

The Pavilion

    The original pavilion was built in 1907 and was destroyed in a storm in 1915. The existing pavilion was constructed that same year to replace the damaged original. The pavilion is a free-standing wood construction building located at the end of the parking lot turning circle and serves as the focal point in the park.



    The pavilion is a one-story structure and is dominated by a large open air room.  A set of five wooden stairs with a railing on both sides brings visitors up to a small inset doorway with wood trim painted the color tan. The interior space from the front entrance opens into a large square area with low wooden benches along the perimeter.

   The back wall contains two sets of double doors, behind which is now storage/prepping area. This space was originally where visitors would rent swimming equipment and housed the changing areas for each sex. To the right and left of these doors are the current restrooms. A later addition, on the back-left section of the pavilion facing the back wall is a handicapped accessible restroom. To the left of the main structure is a low side addition, which used to serve as the concession area. The building retains a high degree of historic integrity for location, setting, design, materials, workmanship, feel and association. It has been continually used by the community for over 100 years and its historic features have been retained while also updating certain aspects of the building for modern uses. The pavilion is over 50 years old and retains much of its integrity from its construction in 1915, with some modifications and upgrades as stated above. 

    Today, the park is used daily by locals and visitors alike. The pavilion is still available for private rental for celebrations and gatherings and is often booked. Town-organized events are also held in the structure, such as the philharmonic music event series and the Halloween Monster Mash. 

    The park is a source of joy and pride for all the residents of Covington and remains an important asset to the community. The Bogue Falaya Park has served as a key recreational facility in Covington since it was first created in 1907-08. 



See also:





Saturday, July 30, 2016

The St. Tammany Special Train

Early in the 20th century, Covington commuters who made the daily trip to New Orleans were served by railroad in addition to lake steamer. 

The "St. Tammany Special" was a train made up of several cars that made daily trips between New Orleans and Covington. Its schedule called for it to leave New Orleans at 4:30 p.m. each day (except Sundays), arriving in Covington at 6:15 p.m. The train would then leave Covington the next day at 6:45 a.m. and arrive back in New Orleans at 8:30 a.m.

The trains were comprised of "elegant vestibule coaches and Parlor Buffet Cars." 


The St. Tammany Special

There was also a local train that left New Orleans each morning (except Sundays) at 6:30 a.m. and arrived in Covington at 9:30 a.m.

On Sundays and Wednesdays, there were "Excursion Trains" that left New Orleans at 7:40 a.m. and arrived in Covington at 9:55 a.m. They would leave Covington to head back to New Orleans at 4:55 p.m.

A 1927 Advertisement

On the "Remember Covington..the way it was..way back when..."Facebook page, John Grey said the St. Tammany Special began operating on May 27, 1903 to give "comfortable and quick access to the balmy resorts of the Ozone Belt."

In a newspaper article published at the beginning of the train's service, Grey read that "it was one of the first suburban trains in commission in the country. It ran the day before as a celebration with invitations from the N. O. & Northeastern and East Louisiana officials to rarlroad and newspapermen to make the initial trip. In some stretches the train made a speed of over 60 mph."

Grey goes on to quote the article as saying the train was ventilated from one end to the other and consisted of a combination baggage and club car and three modern coaches. "The windows on the club were practically continuous making for a good view. It was fitted with the most comfortable type of easy chairs, and breakfast was served in the club car, consisting of coffee and eggs, cold meats and relishes and all kinds of drink.The club and coaches were finished in quartered oak," the article noted. 

Cornstalk Fence

Cornstalk fences (and various variations thereof) were popular in New Orleans long ago, and even several early St. Tammany residences were adorned with the unusual enclosures and gates. Here's a picture of a section of cornstalk fence. Click on the image to see a larger view. 


Friday, July 29, 2016

Sign Dedication at the Park Entrance

This photo shows the dedication of a new sign at  the Entrance to Bogue Falaya Park, Covington, on July 2, 1993. It duplicated a sign that had been located there many years ago, reminding visitors not to litter, but it quoted an old saying rather than giving a harsh warning. The new sign was paid for by funds donated by the sale of music cassettes featuring locally-written songs about the rivers of St. Tammany Parish.


Here is the group at the 1993 dedication for the new sign, and below is a photograph of the original sign at the park entrance. In the old photograph are C. J. "Cyp" Schoen at left, Ronnie Pogue on top, and Beverly Thibodeaux. The photograph was supplied by Carlos Aceves.



The original sign was eventually covered with vines and had to be removed. Originally, Bogue Falaya Park was a "roadside" park owned by the State of Louisiana. When it was no longer needed by the state, plans were made to sell it to the public in 1979. So the park site might have become private property or a condominum complex at that time, if the city hadn't stepped in and acquired the park property. However, city officials did not have the funds needed to maintain the facility, so the park gates were closed until the city could afford to keep it up. "So we acquired the property and just sat on it," said Councilman Donald Primes. Once city funds started to come in to begin improvements to the park, it was opened for public use. The new sign was built with materials from Poole Lumber Company with the design based on the photograph shown above. 

Helping with the installation of the sign was a crew from CLECO, including Bucky Jakins, Paul Sheridan, Frank Gendosa, and Weldon Foxworth. Sign Services of Covington provided the painting of the sign and helped in its installation.


To see a video of the sign being dedicated, click on the video below.



For more information about the 1984 reopening of the park, click on images below.




Here's how the entrance to Bogue Falaya Park looked many years ago.

 The entrance gate built in 1920 served pedestrians, but was modified a few years later to accomodate cars. The two pillars on either side of that gate were retained. They were restored in 2007 along with the historical marker that was placed on them originally. 







Tchefuncta Country Club History

Here's a brief history of how one of the area's earliest residential subdivisions, Tchefuncta Country Club Estates, came to be. 


Click on the image to enlarge the size of the text. 









For a map showing where Tchefuncta Country Club is located, CLICK HERE.


For more information about the estates, CLICK HERE.


 


See also:

Mr. and Mrs. Kent McWilliams Jr. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Covington History Video at the Trailhead Visitors Center

The Covington Trailhead Visitors Center and History Museum features a 12 minute video showcasing the history of Covington. HERE IS A LINK to that video on YouTube. It was created in 2011 and premiered at the Visitors Center opening reception.






The video was produced by Dale Anthony Smith and in 2011 won a Telly Award in two categories: History/Biography and Travel/Tourism. To hear Smith tell of the concept and work that went into the production of the film, click on the image below. 


According to Smith, the video was produced for a permanently installed Museum installation, and the film chronicles the history and development of Covington, LA. It was commissioned by the Mayor and City Council to be the centerpiece of the town's new Visitor Center. "As the Producer, I worked for several years to develop the project... making fundraising calls with the Mayor and Downtown Development Director, working with the Architect to design both the theatre and exhibit space... and finally spending over a year in research, writing, shooting, and editing the piece along with designing the exhibits.

"The sound track was critical. The narrator was finally found to match the voice in my head, and the writing was tailored to that voice. The recording session was the first time I had used the technique of having the narrator read to a pre-edited music bed. I supplied the narrator with a mix of me reading the track (with my best imitation of his voice) over the background music. I supplied the studio with separate tracks of music and rough VO. We played both tracks and then dropped out the rough voice over so the narrator could feel where to lay back or punch through depending on the emotional tone of each section. The recording session took over four hours and the subsequent edit was five full days of cutting just the right takes (or parts of takes)... The background music took over a week to complete prior to the voice over.

"I have been doing these types of museum films for decades now, but this one was special... it was for the little old town where I now live and where my wife grew up... our daughter is actually 7th generation here... As the son of a Coast Guard pilot, moving from Hawaii to Alaska, to Texas, and back to Alaska, I have an appreciation for families who have established deep roots. So, I knew that our family and friends and my daughter's schoolmates would be coming to see the installation... it was a chance to combine my love of filmmaking, and my love of history, with my love of this place. I hope you enjoy the piece... pay particular attention to the flow of music, images, and information.

"The original research draft was over 40 pages, I had to cut it down to just 4 typed pages to keep the running time within reason. One saving grace was that I was able to elaborate on items merely alluded to in the filmthe stories in six exhibit panels and two interactive kiosks. The film acts as an introduction to encourage deeper exploration through the exhibit area," Smith concluded.

Another video about the history of Covington, complete with many photographs, is located AT THIS LINK.




Wooden Boat Festival Aerial Photographs

Here are some aerial pictures of the Wooden Boat Festival in Madisonville some years ago, before all the large homes were built on the east side of the river. Click on the images to make them larger. 





For a look at Wooden Boat Festival pictures at ground level,


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Highlights of History by H.A. Mackie

Here are two pages containing the "Highlights of St. Tammany Parish" history, especially the Covington area. It was written by H.A. Mackie of Covington in the mid-1950's. Click on the images below to make them larger. 






Goodbee Intersection - 1975

The photograph below shows the Goodbee U.S. 190 and La. 1077 intersection as it appeared in 1975. The view is from the northeast, with the building shown being the location of the Country Boy One Stop. The second photograph shows the Google Maps aerial view from 2016. To see a larger view, click on each image. To see the Google Maps view in a browser, click here. 


1975


2016