Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mandeville's Architectural Studies

In 1972 ten architectural students from LSU surveyed Mandeville and created a report on the architecture of the various older houses in the town. When the report was finished, it was reviewed by the chamber of commerce and the parish historical society. 

The 1972 Historical Survey by LSU Students

Below is the article that resulted from that review by the local organizations. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Part of the architectural survey was a brief history of Mandeville. Here's the text that was contained in that section:

A Brief History of Mandeville

The City of Mandeville is located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain with its major concentration of buildings lying south of Highway 190 between Bayou Castine on the east and Lewisburg on the west. The city was founded in 1834 by Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville (1785-1868). 

The Marigny family was a prominent family of Louisiana. Bernard Marigny, heir of Pierre Enguerrand Philippe de Mandeville, Ecuyer, Sieur de Marigny, received a fortune from his father who died in his home at Mandeville while Bernard was in school in France. Upon his return from France, Bernard assumed the responsibilities of the family business. 

His success in business affairs directed him to politics and other important civic and social pursuits. Although Bernard Marigny resided in New Orleans, he maintained a rich and profitable plantation for a period of time in the area that is now Fontainebleau State Park. This area was formerly populated by the Choctaw Indians and many Indian traditions still persist in the immediate environs.

Although Fontainbleau was owned by Marigny, it was not included in his plans for the Town of Mandeville. Marigny went west of Bayou Castine (a name derived from the Choctaw Indian word "caste" meaning fleas) to purchase about 5,000 acres of land which he had hopes of developing into a prosperous new town. The major frontage of this land was on the lake, which encouraged the full development of lakefront properties and included facilities for transporting persons and goods across the lake to New Orleans. 

Early in the development phases of this project, Marigny met John Davis, a known gambler, who, like Marigny, saw the potential of the Mandeville area. They became partners and opened a casino and hotel in the area which became a great success.

Marigny seemed not well pleased with the urban situation in New Orleans, and with the coming of the railroad planning in the New Orleans area, he changed his residence from the city to his mansion at Fontainebleau. He entered into an intense planning program for his new town. With the help of Davis, he developed the basic layout of the civic structures, streets, markets, churches and wharves. His planning was directed toward creating the best economic attraction possible.

Marigny lived an active and productive life in both New Orleans and Mandeville. He died at the age of 83 in New Orleans.

Marigny's plan for the Town of Mandeville was drawn by Louis Brinoer, surveyor general of Louisiana, and submitted on January 14, 1834, to the Notary Public. With the plan were included guidelines for the governing and operation of the new town. The rules provided for the space between the lake and streets fronting it never to be obstructed in any way. 

The streets leading to the lake were always to remain open and free. The streets were all 50 feet wide except for Marigny and Jackson Streets which were 100 feet in width, and Lake Street (or Lakeshore) which was to maintain a 60 foot width. Bayou Castin was to be used for drainage and never to be filled in or re-channelled.

In the Marigny plan the lots were to be 60 feet fronting on the street and 190 feet deep. There was little uniformity in lot divisions beyond the lake front area.

In Marigny's layout of the city, he named the streets for his most favorite personalities (E. G. Adair, Carroll, Claiborne, Coffee, Foy, Girod, Jackson, Lafayette, Lafitte, Livingston, Madison and Wilkinson). The city was incorporated on March 24, 1840.

The depression of 1837 caused many families to give up their properties in the resort area. This economic situation prompted the return of several deeds and repossessing of properties, which in turn almost bankrupted Marigny. In 1852 the continuing economic pressures required that he sell Fontainebleau.

During the Civil War few persons resided in Mandeville. The city was occupied by Union troops commanded by Major F. H. Peck, who were pursuing Confederate soldiers in the coast areas. It was during this period that Lewisburg was burned.

During the post-war years the city grew very little until the late 19th century when the resort functions began to grow in popularity. It was during this period of major building that the architectural forms seen in great number today emerged. This was the height of the Victorian period. The many beautiful cottages which now stand to create the character of Mandeville were built by the summer visitors to the lake resort.

(End of the 1972 Brief History Section)

The ten students of the Restoration Architectural Studio, Dept. of Architecture, School of Environmental Design, LSU, were David Francis Brown, Jimmie Lee Bullock, Rossuel  Francois, Wesley Furman, Gilbert Hetherwick, Eric Jack Smith, Paul Snatic, John Spranley, Charles Trichel, and Elmer Winn. 

Many Mandeville area residents assisted in the project, among them being Dr. and Mrs. Harvey Colvin, Mrs. Thomas L. Doby, Dr. and Mrs. John Healy, Mr. and Mrs. Denis Bechac, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Doby, Mr. and Mrs. Christobal Rodriquez, Mr. and Mrs. James P. Moore, Mr. and Mrs. Prescott Follet, and Col. and Mrs. Leonard M. Rohrbough. The students especially thanked Dr. and Mrs. Colvin for letting them use their house as a


The 2015 Historic Resources Report
Forty-three years later, in 2015 a new Historic Resources Survey of the Mandeville Historic Preservation District was prepared by Cox-McLain Environmental Consulting for the City of Mandeville. To view a PDF file of their report, CLICK HERE.

That document featured a brief history of the Mandeville area which is reprinted in part below:

"After being under the jurisdiction of the French, English, and Spanish during the 16th through the early 19th centuries, Louisiana became the 18th U.S. state in 1812. St. Tammany Parish had been formed from Feliciana County the previous year. The first two towns in the parish, Covington and Madisonville, were established in 1813 and 1814, respectively. 

"The parish grew slowly in the early 19th century but development began to accelerate around 1820, with a period of marked growth extending through 1855 (Ellis 1981). During the 1820s, Bernard deMarigny de Mandeville, a wealthy planter from New Orleans, began to acquire property in St. Tammany Parish. DeMarigny had previously created the New Orleans subdivision of Faubourg Marigny from his family plantation land east of the old city limits. 

 'Turning his attention north of Lake Pontchartrain, he purchased a plantation at the site of present-day Fontainebleau State Park, which is located east of Mandeville. In 1829, deMarigny bought several tracts of land along the lakeshore adjoining the plantation to the west (A. Gilbert 2015; Ellis 1981). He subdivided this land into a town to be called Mandeville, the plans for which were notarized in 1834. 

"An auction for town lots was held in New Orleans in February of that year and 388 lots were sold (A. Gilbert 2015). In April 1834, the Blackhawk steamboat began operation across Lake Pontchartrain, connecting Madisonville, Fontainebleau, and Mandeville to New Orleans, providing weekly service during the summer season (Ellis 1981). A casino and hotel were soon established in Mandeville, and the Mandeville College was founded in 1844 (Ellis 1981). 

"In the 1850s, additional steamboats ferried passengers between New Orleans and the North Shore, where visitors found Mandeville to be “a charming village” with “a large number of inhabitants,” many of whom summered in the community (Ellis 1981: 121). This growth was halted with the onset of the Civil War, and the parish was severely depleted of resources at the war’s conclusion in 1865. 

"In the wake of the Civil War, the population of the parish increased by less than 200 people over the 10-year period between 1860 and 1870. The 1870 Census listed only one hotel, indicating that the resort industry had been negatively affected by the conflict (Ellis 1981). The 1870 Census also provided population counts by community for the first time. Mandeville was the second-largest town in the parish (537 people), behind Covington (579) (Ellis 1981). 

"By 1880, Mandeville had grown to the largest town, with 753 people. During the Reconstruction era immediately following the Civil War, lumber companies were established in the parish; the Mississippi-based Poitevant & Favre Lumber Company purchased large tracts of land in St. Tammany in the 1880s. The timber and manufacturing industries played a prominent role in the development of communities in the parish and in small towns across the south, providing an important employment source and also contributing to the growth of transportation networks. 

"The first rail line through the parish, the New Orleans and North Eastern Railroad Company, was constructed in 1883, connecting New Orleans to points north. This mode of transportation provided access to new areas in the parish to harvest timber; lumber companies were responsible for the construction of almost all subsequent rail lines in St Tammany Parish (Sumpter 2010). The Poitevant & Favre Company constructed a line to Mandeville in 1892. While the pine trees provided valuable lumber products to the region, the trees also contributed to the North Shore’s growing reputation as a healthful retreat. 

"The area became known as the “Ozone Belt” because the trees were thought to emit salubrious ozone gas. The North Shore served as an excursion destination for visitors from New Orleans and beyond, providing a respite from the bustling and dirty city as well as a perception of restorative effects for health. The Colomes Hotel was the sole hotel in Mandeville in 1880, but several others soon joined its ranks. Other late-19th century hospitality providers in Mandeville included the Frappart Hotel, the Crescent Hotel, Paul’s Exchange (housed in what is now the Lakehouse Restaurant at 2025 Lakeshore Drive), and the Lafferanderie Hotel (Ellis 1981). Visitors came primarily by steamer across the lake. During the summer of 1897, 3,000-4,000 people visited the North Shore from New Orleans, resulting in a temporary increase of about 33 percent of the total parish population (Sumpter 2010:175). "

Ellis, Frederick Stephen. 1981. St. Tammany Parish. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Press.
Gilbert, Ann. 2015. “Mandeville’s Enigmatic Founder,” Inside Northside Magazine, May 25.
Sumpter, Amy R. 2010, “Idylls of the Piney Woods: Health and Race in Southeastern Louisiana, 1878-1956,” Journal of Cultural Geography, June 2010.