Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Look at the 22nd Judicial District in 1972

There were three judges serving the 22nd Judicial District back in 1972. It has grown in size a little since then. Here is a 1972 article about the District and its Judges. Click on the images below to see a larger version. 

There are now 12 judges serving the District. For current information about the 22nd Judicial District, CLICK HERE.

Friday, December 30, 2016

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 newspaper edition of December 30, 1916. 

Some of the headlines are "Big Ship To Be Launched At Slidell Yards Today, 30 Fine Chickens Stolen From St. Joseph's Abbey, and New Camelia Returns to Service After Undergoing Repairs."

Abita Brewery Tour

Being a tourist in your own home town is sometimes a challenge, but in the Covington/Abita Springs area, it is relatively easy. Just go over to the Abita Brewery and take their tour. It's fun, educational, and thirst-quenching. 

There are a lot of facts and interesting statistics shared during the tour, such as how to make beer, how to make different kinds of and flavors of beer, and how to bottle, can, and keg enough beer to satisfy the world's demand for Abita Beer (which is growing daily). You can find many of those statistics on their website if you need details. 

The French Quarter design for the new building

Of course, the beer is made with Abita Springs water, which makes it special right from the beginning. Many of their other ingredients come from around the world, and they use highly specialized microbrewery equipment that's state-of-the-art. Not only do they make a pretty fine bunch of beers, they are also experts at the fine art of marketing those beers, complete with great graphics, advertisement themes, and T-shirts, not to mention coming up with the most favored flavors and naming the different beers to appeal to different tastes.

If you are a fan of stainless steel, you'll be impressed by the tour of their newly-expanded facility, since it features many stainless steel vats, tanks, and pipes. Here are some pictures. Click on them for a larger size.

A French Quarter style patio

Just a few T-shirts for your consideration

101 Things To Do With Bottle Caps


More Pipes

Hot Pipes




Even more pipes

More tanks

Even more tanks. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Frank Davis, Chef, Fisherman, TV/Radio Broadcaster

I first met Frank Davis when he was reporting sports for the Slidell Times newspaper in 1972, the same year I  was editor of the Slidell Sentry. Later that year he started his own television outdoors program, and over the years he enjoyed a long and successful career with WWL-TV, first as an outdoor fishing reporter, and then as an expert chef in preparing Louisiana foods. 

A good friend of St. Tammany Parish and especially the Youth Service Bureau's Chef Soiree fund raising event for many years, he died in 2013. CLICK HERE to read  a article about him and his many community interests.

Frank Davis reading a ChefSoiree Map

In 1972 Frank Davis wrote an article called "Crawfish Culture." It contained everything you wanted to know about crawfish catching, crawfish boiling, and crawfish eating. Click on the images below to see a larger version. 

Davis was a popular celebrity at area events. He even had a bridge named after him.

Click on above video for a tribute to Frank Davis

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Long Branch Hotel in Abita Springs

Here are some old photos of some of the Long Branch Hotel buildings in Abita Springs. These were taken in the 1970's, except for the last one, which was from a post card in the early 1900's.

Click on the images to make them larger

Click on the images to make them larger and more readable. 

Text from the above article:

Longbranch Annex named historic site

August 30, 1983 St. Tammany bureau (Times Picayune)

The Longbranch Annex Hotel, a popular turn-of-the-century Abita Springs resort, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

State Historic Preservation Officer Robert B. DeBlieux said the hotel annex, built about 1890 and located on Louisiana 36 west of Abita Springs, was built to accommodate the overflow of guests from the nearby Longbranch Hotel, which was placed on the National Register last year.

"People from the New Orleans area came to these communities to partake of the supposed health-giving powers of the ozone in the area along the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain," BeBlieux said. "Victorian medical theory held that ozone in the air had special recuperative and regenerative powers when inhaled by the infirmed."

The hotel annex building is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Erwin T. Salathe Jr. of New Orleans. Salathe said he and his wife plan to open an antique shop in the building after it is restored.

DeBlieux said that in addition to the ozone and rural surroundings, New Orleanians came to Abita Springs for its mineral spring water.

Abita Springs grew slowly after the Civil War, he said, but with the coming of the railroad in the 1890s, large numbers of people flocked to north shore communities.

Ann Reiley Jones, director of the state Division of Historic Preservation, said the National Register program is dedicated to the preservation of the nation's irreplaceable historical, archaeological and cultural sites. Properties listed on the register also. are eligible for tax breaks and federal protection, she said.

Text from the above article:

Owners aim to make historic hotel look the part

July 22, 1982 By JOHN FAHEY - Times Picayune
The Longbranch Hotel outside Abita Springs has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 103-year-old building, near the intersection of Louisiana highways 36 and 59, joins a 50-block area of Abita Springs as part of the National Register.

The announcement came this week from state and federal officials and architect J. Buchanan Blitch of Abita Springs, part owner of the Longbranch and a prime mover in the effort to win historical recognition for the hotel.

A dozen people live at the Long-branch, but will have to find a new home within the next two years.

Blitch said Wednesday that the building, once a flourishing resort spot favored by the well-to-do of New Orleans, will be restored to its former glory as a turn-of-the-century hotel in time for the 1984 world's fair.

The hotel's six owners will meet Saturday in New Orleans to work out the restoration details. The other owners, all New Orleans residents, are American Rent-All president Clayton Charbonnet, Mrs. Clay E. Thomas, Assistant Attorney General Warren Mouledoux, building contractor Richard Schaff and architect Eduardo Camacho.

But Blitch already has an idea of what he wants to do with the place.

The six bought the building three years ago. Since then, Blitch said, he has been planning its restoration down to the last detail, including the kitchenware. 

His plans call for it to be reopened as a country inn, with a 130-seat dining room on the ground floor. He also plans a private dining area and a public bar downstairs, be said.

The hotel has community bathrooms, but Blitch said the second floor will be converted into four two-bedroom suites with private baths. A large kitchen will be built in an adjoining building.

The summer cottage, which was the original owner's home, is now occupied by the groundskeeper and will be converted to four two-bedroom suites. A dormitory-style caretaker's building will become small retail shops, according to Blitch's plan.
A date to begin work has not been set, and the cost of the renovation and restoration is not yet known.

But the historical designation brings with it potential tax credits and incentives that will allow as much as $1 million to be spent on the restoration, Blitch said.

Among the incentives for income tax purposes are a five-year period in which the building may be depreciated and a 25 percent investment tax credit on improvements.

"It's a way Uncle Sam says we want to preserve America," Blitch said. 

Blitch said he received word June 24 that the hotel had been accepted into the National Register by its Washington D.C.-based governing board, a branch of the Interior Department's National Park Service.

However, he said, officials of the Louisiana Division of Archaelogy and Historic Preservation made the official announcement this week.

"The Longbranch is architecturally significant at the local level as one of the most pretentious and sophisticated structures in St. Tammany Parish," state historical preservation officer Robert B. deBlieux said in a press release. "The two-story, galleried, frame hotel is reminiscent of earlier New Orleans residences that featured a sophisticated Classical Revival facade."

Blitch said Wednesday that the Longbranch Hotel is the last of five resort hotels of its kind built on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in the late 1800s.
One was in Mandeville, and the other three were in the Abita Springs area, Blitch said. All four are either no longer standing or are not used as residences.

A document by the Longbranch's six owners says the hotel was opened by Frank Lenel on Dec. 6, 1879, and was operated by him as a 16-room hotel until his disappearance two years later.

Lenel, 80, started walking toward Abita Springs one day, the reports says, and was never seen again.

Lenel's heirs and the Michaelis family later used Lenel's home next to the hotel for lodging apace and reopened 'he hotel, the report says.

The Longbranch has not been used as a hotel since the 1940's, although it has served as a boarding house off and on.

The upper floor was damaged by fire last January, when only three people — including the groundskeeper and his mother — lived there. Today, although the fire damage has not been fully repaired, the Long-branch is filled to its capacity of 12 residents.

In May, a 50-block area of Abita Springs that included 150 houses and several businesses was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the homes were built in the late 1800s.

The Abita Springs Tourist Park" Pavilion was listed on the National Register in 1975.

Text from the above article:

Renovation Planned For Long Branch

ABITA SPRINGS — Plans are underway to restore the old Long Branch Hotel near Abita Springs into a luxury resort and gourmet country restaurant, according to architect J.B. Blitch, who is part owner of the historic property.

Blitch revealed some of the plans for the complex following an announcement by State Historic Preservation Officer Robert B. DeBlieux that the Long Branch complex has been officially entered into the National Register of Historic Places.

The complex consists of a hotel, a guest house, and a pavilion, along with grounds. Inclusion of the complex into the historic register was crucial to restoration plans, said Blitch, because tax exemptions are granted to registered buildings which are renovated. 

The consortium of owners, said Blitch, plans to spend $900,000 on the initial restoration of the property, which is expected to be complete six months before the opening of the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair.

The fair, Blitch said, will provide, "an opportunity to get national recognition for the Long Branch as a fine old country inn."

According to the 1980 historical survey of Abita Springs prepared by the St. Tammany Parish Planning Commission, the hotel was completed in June of 1880, and was the first of the large Abita resort hotels. Owned by Frank Lenel, the complex was built by Joseph Gazin of New Orleans.

The main building, essentially a Louisiana country building with a Greek Revival facade, is a five-bay raised cottage with a central hall and 16 rooms, with eight baths.

Eight other rooms are in an annex building next to the main structure. Blitch said his architectural research indicates that the annex may be older than the main building, and could have been built prior to the Civil War.

A release from the State Office of Historic Preservation, which calls the Long Branch "one of the most pretentious and sophisticated structures in St. Tammany Parish", said the complex is significant not only architecturally, but also has a local scientific importance.

"The Long Branch Hotel," the release said, "materially illustrates a specific era and once prevalent philosophy of American health care. It is the only remaining example of the once numerous hotels in Abita Springs which served the people of the New Orleans area who sought the curative powers of the clean air and mineral water offered at the town's resorts". 

During the Yellow Fever epidemics which decimated New Orleans in the late 19th Century, historians have noted, St. Tammany Parish, unlike some other areas. did not restrict entry, and in fact welcomed refugees from the disease.

Blitch said Tuesday that some changes in the interior of the old buildings will have to be made to accommodate the tastes of modern travelers. While the original hotel had 16 rooms and eight baths, he said, the restoration will convert the upstairs of the main building into four suites, each with private bath.

Downstairs in the main building, he said, the old rooms will be converted to administrative offices, and the old dining hall will be renovated into a gourmet country restaurant and lounge.

The guest house adjacent to the main building will be converted into four suites, said Blitch.

Plans are also being made to restore the hotel gardens to their former elegance, he said. A stately drive along a crape myrtle trail will be retrieved from the brush, as will an ancient circle of oaks now hidden in the woods.

The oak circle, said Blitch, predates the hotel by many years, and may have been a meeting place for the Choctaw Indians who used to inhabit Abita Springs, and who gave the town its name. In Choctaw, "Ibetab Okla Chitto" meant "large settlement by fountain". 

According to legend, said Blitch, "Gentleman Jim" Corbett trained in the circle of oaks for his famed fist fight with John L. Sullivan, held on September 7. 1892, at the Old Olympic Club in New Orleans.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Bob Fitzmorris, Clerk of Court

Bob Fitzmorris was Clerk of Court for St. Tammany Parish for many years. Here is some information about him from a 1972 Pathways Magazine article.Click on the image below for larger version. 

A 1972 Photograph of Pete, Jimmy and Bob Fitzmorris

Monday, December 26, 2016

Madisonville Area Growth - 1998 to 2016

Here is a video featuring a sequence of aerial photographs of the Madisonville area between 1998 and 2016, courtesy of the Google Earth historical photo slideshow. Click on the image below to start the video. For full screen view, click on the [  ] symbol next to the YouTube logo when it appears in the lower right corner. 

The area in the upper right showing the Interstate 12/La. 21 intersection and all of its shopping centers coming in is particularly interesting. 

Hose Down The Barrel

If you've ever wondered what firefighters do for fun, here are some pictures of a barrel hosing competition. The other team was waiting for the barrel to be sent over their way so they could hose it back. That was one clean barrel by the end of the event. I think these were taken in the Lacombe area.