Monday, June 10, 2019

Hadden Hall Memories

Over the past 75 years, thousands of Covington area residents, members of the American Legion, regular visitors to the Covington Senior Citizens Center, and hundreds of used book buyers would frequent Hadden Hall.  

The American Legion moved out in 1985, the senior citizens center moved out in 2014, and the Friends of the Library book sale moved out a month ago.


The concrete block structure was torn down Monday afternoon. Here are some pictures. Click on the images to make them larger.

The Hadden Family Home

The old Hadden family summer home was located at 106 South Jahncke Ave. in Covington, LA, the corner of Jahncke and East 21st Avenue. Over the past 100 years, the location served many purposes, the home of the Haddens, the American Legion Post, the Covington Senior Center, and the site of the monthly book sale of the Friends of the Library. 

The Hadden family was active in a variety of area community organizations and improvement societies, from the M.C. B. library and Women's Progressive Union to the King's Daughters Rest Awhile retreat on the Mandeville lakefront.

The rectangular concrete block building was probably the updated building that replaced the original wood frame home, and it offered a big meeting room and a full-service kitchen. 

It is a location rich in memories. There are memories of the Hadden family who lived there for generations, watching the traffic go by on Jahncke Avenue, which at one time was the main thoroughfare down to Old Landing where many of the steamboats arrived. The road then turned and went on to Madisonville. 

Jahncke Avenue is now a beautiful tree-shaded street with big homes and extensively-renovated summer cottages. But a hundred or so years ago, it was the main highway through Covington that went from north St. Tammany and on down to Madisonville.

The Hadden Home property was purchased by Mrs. Lenora Hadden on October 8, 1902, from James M. Thompson, according to documents provided by the local American Legion Post.

This glass sign was removed from the building on Jahncke, and it is now on display in the new American Legion Museum on Covington 190 Bypass


American Legion Meeting Hall

After it was no longer used by the Hadden family, the structure was turned over to the American Legion in 1945 for use as its meeting hall,  which came to be called "Hadden Hall."

As such it provided a place to make many fond memories for the thousands of American Legion members over the years, those who attended meetings there, visiting with friends, holding officer installations, annual military observances, awards programs, and scholarship presentations, as well as weekly bingo games. 

Robert H. Burns, the Legion Post's namesake

The Legion also rented the hall out for wedding receptions and other public and private gatherings, so there are the memories of the building in the minds of the people who attended those wedding receptions and private parties and dinners.There were regularly scheduled dances, even "sock hops."

 According to Louis Ross Jr., the building served as Robert H. Burns American Legion Post No. 16 for many years. The group built handicapped ramps in front to help its disabled members get into the building, and the full service kitchen was used by both the American Legion and the Council on Aging for its meal preparation.  

At one time, the building served voters in precincts C04 and C05 as their polling place. Many longtime residents as well as newcomers remember casting their ballots in the building for various elections.

 Senior Citizen Center

After the American Legion built its new home out on U. S. 190 bypass, the Council on Aging began using Hadden Hall in July of 1985 for its senior citizen center in the Covington area, serving daily lunches to dozens of senior citizens, in addition to the various arts and crafts activities at the site. 

The sign out front 


There were social gatherings, dinners, bingo games, card games, art lessons, and special informative events, each one of those a memory-maker and a memory-sharing experience among seniors. 

One can only guess how many photos of grandchildren were shown to friends and acquaintances, how many health and age discussions went on, and how many senior citizens appreciated the chance to get out of the house and see their friends and neighbors.


The Senior Citizens Center celebrated the Fourth of July and other special occasions there with community get-togethers, and, on a daily basis, about 35 seniors enjoyed lunches there. The group held yard sales and other fund-raising events to help pay for clean up and fix up efforts for the building. 

Hadden Hall was used as the Covington Senior Citizens Center up to around 2013, then the senior center was moved to another facility.   

Friends of the Library Book Sale

For many years, the senior citizens shared the building with the Friends of the Library organization for its monthly book sales. 

The book sales took place in the rear building addition for decades, then moved into the front section of the building for even more sales space.  Click on the "play triangle" on the video below for a quick tour of the many thousands of books, records, Compact Disks, DVD's, magazines, sets of encyclopedias, etc. (Set to music!)


Here are some photos of the book sales.

Through these side doors of Hadden Hall passed thousands of book lovers taking home their treasured finds from the ever-changing supply of books donated to the Friends of the Library for its monthly book sale. 

Book sale workers, with Margie Abel at right
Ross enjoyed going to the Friends of the Library book sales, not only for the wide selection of used books, but for the great prices. Book collectors found many rare and valuable books among those on the stacks, and many parents and grandparents found reasonably priced children's books for their youngsters.

"Jahncke Avenue has become the St. Charles Ave. of Covington," Ross said, commenting about the many new homes being built as well as the grand old homes being preserved. The road was named in honor of the Jahncke family after the Jahncke dredging services provided enough shells to improve the road from Covington to Madisonville.

 A few weeks ago, the books were moved out of the building and are now being stored until a new home can be found for the popular Friends of the Library event.

Over on Facebook, more than 100 people have commented about Hadden Hall; here are a few of their memories.

Many recall going with their grandparents to play bingo there, taking part in Girl Scout activities there, and taking dance lessons in the building. But there are also memories of birthday parties, the cannon that was on the outside that kids used to play on, and Saturday morning events for the neighborhood children.

Not only that, but there was a John Pela TV show shot on location there at one time, with local teens featured.

Photos of  Hadden Hall 
Over the Years

The ramp

The front porch

A flag-raising ceremony

The front entrance


During the demotion, special care was taken not to damage the large trees standing in front of the building.




Tribute to Hadden Hall

Among the many places,
In our community,
A few there are, both near and far,
That stir a memory

Hadden Hall was such a place,
Where people came to visit
To enjoy a meal, and quite a deal,
To buy a book exquisite.

The memories abundant,
Weddings flung with rice,
To meet with friends, talk til it ends,
And honor those who sacrificed

Hadden Hall did it all,
Home to Post 16,
Senior Center, Summer, Winter
And Bingo games in-between

The rows of books went on
And on, records, tapes and more
Many did seek a book to keep,
Pleased by what was in store

A building whose main purpose
Was to shelter and provide
All walks of life escape from strife
Friends to share, to care and guide

We say good-bye to Hadden Hall
It will be long remembered,
Taking the lead in filling a need,
Through the services it rendered. 

Thanks goes to the Council On Aging of St. Tammany for providing some of the photographs for this article. The American Legion Post provided some background information.

See also:

Hadden Hall - Senior Services Center