Friday, March 31, 2017

100 Years Ago This Week

What was going on 100 years ago this week? The following link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service. CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer edition of March 31, 1917. 

The Madisonville Bank Statement from March, 1917

Dedication of New Covington City Hall - 1959

This picture shows the dedication of the newly-built Covington City Hall on Columbia Street in 1959. Click on the image for a larger version. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Covington Fire Department in 1966

This group photograph shows the men of the Covington Fire Department as they were in the year 1966, some 51 years ago. Click on the image for a larger version. 

John Akers - The Wildlife Environment Artist

In this installment of my weekly "Talent Bank" column from 1985, I spoke with artist John Ackers of Abita Springs about his great diversity of art portraying St. Tammany Parish wildlife and outdoor environments. Click on the image below to read the text. 

Akers found what his talents were and the best way to utilize them. After that came the production of scores of paintings and prints which were very well-received by the art-buying public. When he says he didn't have time to explore any other papers or techniques, it was because his work was very much in demand, a situation any artist can appreciate. 

He was especially successful in winning competitions for the artwork used on duck stamps and wildlife preservation posters. His 1990 print for the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans was very popular. He signed and numbered 5000 of them, and the art was also used on a stamp. 

To view additional artwork by John Akers, CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE.

 Swallow-tailed kite, lithograph by John Akers

Prints of the painting above are being sold to help raise funds for the Northlake Nature Center. CLICK HERE for more information.

A signed and numbered John Akers print for the Louisiana Sportsmen's Show in 1985

A description of the artist and his art reprinted from

     "The Art Of John Akers -  John Akers, the renowned Abita Springs artist, is known for his unique style and palette. His prints and paintings are instantly recognizable regardless of where they are displayed. He once said that he got a great deal of satisfaction knowing that his style was so distinctive, achieved through many years of hard work and not influenced by any institution or individual, past or present.
      For many years he concentrated on the study and painting of wildlife, waterfowl, fish, coral reefs and florals. He performed the tremendous research and also developed the skill and patience required to paint these subjects accurately and realistically. His duck paintings are among the very best, as evidenced by his being named Artist of the Year in 1985 and 1989 by Ducks Unlimited. He was selected, for several years, to design and paint the official annual Louisiana Sportsmens Show poster.
      In addition to wildlife scenes, John produced his bayou country works. His very intricate paintings of oyster boats, shrimp trawlers, and peaceful bayous and water ways are in ever-increasing demand. Says John: 'I felt the need to record these scenes through my paintings before their innocent beauty is lost to encroaching civilization. Because
of my feelings for these subjects, I am able to paint with both emotion and realism.'
     Akers' works are on display in many fine galleries in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. His works also hang in thousands of homes and offices throughout the Unites States. Johns paintings are in collections in England, Australia, South America, Mexico, Africa, Europe, Russia, Japan and in many other countries. He is listed in American Artists of Renown, the book of who's who in American art.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Oak Tree Service Station

Many years ago, there was the Oak Tree Service Station on the southeast corner of the Boston St./Florida Street intersection in Covington. In later years it was renovated and became home to the Greyhound Bus Station, the Western Union Office, and now the Superior Tire Co. across from Subway sandwiches. 

Click on the image below to make it larger. 

Many Covington residents remember getting on the bus to go down to Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie, riding it home on the weekends after being in school all week, and taking off on the bus to visit relatives in far-away places during the summer. 

The Greater Covington Chamber of Commerce

Before the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce, there was the Greater Covington Chamber of Commerce, with an office in the Kentzel Printing building on N. New Hampshire. In 1972 an article about the chamber, its civic leaders and community involvements was printed in Pathways magazine.

Click on the image below to enlarge the text for reading. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mrs. Miriam Barranger, Artist

The first president of the St. Tammany Art Association was Mrs. Miriam Barranger. It was an appropriate choice because of her drive, her community involvements, and, not the least of all, her reputation as an outstanding artist. 

Here is a detailed article written about her in a 1972 issue of Pathways Magazine. Click on the images below for a larger version. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

The History of St. Tammany Parish Hospital

The history of St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington is available by CLICKING ON THIS LINK.

The Women's Progressive Union of Covington began talking about the need for a hospital in 1946, and after eight years of members promoting the idea by speaking to churches, missionary groups, farmers and sewing circles, plans were made to go ahead with the project. 

The police jury called for a bond issue vote, and together with federal funding, a ground breaking ceremony was held on May 4, 1953. The hospital opened its doors to patients 18 months later in December of 1954. It cost $365,000 to build, with an initial inventory of 15 beds. Almost immediately expansion projects were started, with another 15 beds added in 1958.

Expansions continued throughout the 1960's and 70's. Many of the additions were funded in part by donations and contributions by individuals and community organizations. Soon there were private rooms, the nursery, pediatrics, operating rooms and more parking lots. 

The hospital now has 232 beds following the completion of a major renovation and expansion project three years ago. 

CLICK HERE to see an aerial photograph of the hospital in 1975.

Rosemerry Hanian On The Development of Talent

In this 1985 installment of the "Talent Bank" column, I spoke with well-known area dance instructor Rosemerry Fuhrmann Hanian of Covington. According to her research and experience, learning how to dance opens up new areas of creativity, as well as improving reading ability. 

Click on the image below to enlarge the text for easier reading. 

For more information on Rosemerry Hanian, CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE.

Some of her students

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Historical Society Told About Community Theater

In 1997 Warren Salles, owner of the Star Theater in downtown Covington, spoke to the St. Tammany Historical Society about the history of that theater, others in the area, and his family's association with theaters in New Orleans for the past several decades. 

His presentation touched upon the many memories of people in the area who grew up going to movies at the Star Theater as well as the many live stage shows offered. 

CLICK ON THIS LINK to hear an MP3 audio recording of that historical society presentation.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bogue Falaya Park

Bogue Falaya Park in Covington was a happening place in the beginning of the 20th Century. There were all kinds of dances, plays and general get-togethers in the park. Hundreds of people passed through the entrance gates of the community park on summer weekends to sit by the river, enjoy the shade of the large pavilion and listen to music or see a show of some sort. Click on the images to see a larger version.

It was first opened in July, 1909, as indicated by the following newspaper article from the St. Tammany Farmer. Click on the image to enlarge the type. 

Here are some pictures of the entrance to Bogue Falaya Park. The first one is in the 1910's, and the second one is more current. 

A previous entrance to Bogue Falaya Park, according to the postcard caption. 

Heading for the Park Pavilion

The large park pavilion that was repeatedly damaged by floods

The park pavilion in 2016

According to Pat Clanton, the original large pavilion in the park was destroyed around 1915 and replaced with the current day pavilion, which is much smaller.

The large brick entrance posts are also interesting. 

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.

Storm's A'Coming

Visiting the Mandeville lakefront on a sunny day is a great experience, but being there when there's a storm brewing on the horizon can be an even more profound adventure... especially when the storm is approaching from both the south and the north at the same time. 

Click on the images below for a larger version. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

100 Years Ago This Week

What was going on 100 years ago this week? The following link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service. CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer edition of March 24, 1917. 

Ads from the above edition:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

St. Tammany's Places on the Historic Registry

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

CLICK HERE to see the Wikipedia updated listings of buildings and places in St. Tammany Parish that have been designated on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Madisonville Town Hall/ Jail/ Museum

St. Tammany Parish has 38 properties on the list, including the Division of St. John in downtown Covington, and the Abita Springs Historic District, which is most of central Abita Springs. The Slidell Train Depot and the Madisonville Tchefuncte River lighthouse are also on the list. 

Longbranch Annex, Abita Springs, LA

 To be considered eligible, a property must meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. This involves examining the property’s age, integrity, and significance.

• Age and Integrity. Is the property old enough to be considered historic (generally at least 50 years old) and does it still look much the way it did in the past?
• Significance. Is the property associated with events, activities, or developments that were important in the past? With the lives of people who were important in the past? With significant architectural history, landscape history, or engineering achievements? Does it have the potential to yield information through archeological investigation about our past?

Kayaking The Bogue Falaya

The Bogue Falaya is a quiet and unassuming river, in-between flood stages. Here's a group taking advantage of a sunny afternoon, launching their kayaks from Columbia Street Landing in Covington. Click on the images to see a larger version.

The Mandeville House - Lamarque at Lakefront

This house, at one time located at the northeast corner of Lamarque Street and Lakeshore Drive in Mandeville, was as famous for its fence as it was for its architecture and mystique. Click on the image for a larger view. 

The house was a legend among lakefront homes, which is saying a lot. Its Gothic architecture was a favorite among locals, many of whom dreamed of owning the structure and restoring it to its former glory. In the rear of the large home was a fountain that was fed by an artesian well. 

Visitors said the interior had a nautical theme, something that a ship's captain would build, with servants' quarters in the back. While many residents felt it looked like a "haunted house," they were probably just intrigued by its mystery. Even so, it was quite a lakefront attraction and even had its own picture postcard at one time. 

A 1972 survey by LSU architectural students found the house of "architectural significance," along with many of the other lakefront homes with distinctive characteristics. 

The fence around the house was saved, stored for a while, then re-installed and restored. Here are some current day pictures of the fence.