Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Abita Springs Pavilion On The Move

 The Abita Springs Pavilion is a two-story octagonal structure that was originally placed next to the Abita River. Over the years it got flooded repeatedly, and a levee was built around it. In 2007 it was decided to move it out of the flood plain. The project to move it was handed to Davie Shoring, a company out of New Orleans that specializes in elevating and moving large structures.

Here are some photographs, many of which were taken by Mary Davis.

In its old location, the pavilion was subject to flooding and trees falling on it. 

So the structure was jacked up, the base support posts removed...

 And a transport trailer was brought in and driven under it.
In its new location, concrete pillars were constructed under it.  


The move was handled by Davie Shoring, Inc. Here's a picture of the crew. 

 Historic Places Registry

The pavilion was registered with the National Register of Historic Places (US Dept. of the Interior) in 1975, and in that application the following was noted:

The Abita Springs Pavilion was constructed in 1888. The raised octagonal structure is entirely of wood and Victorian in style. It is 46 feet high and 52.6 feet in diameter.  There are eight 12 inch by 18 inch posts which support the upper level.

The Abita Springs Pavilion was constructed to encourage and allow the consumption of the spring waters for medicinal purposes. The community of Abita Springs takes its name from the spring and the area was long a very popular summer resort for the inhabitants of New Orleans.

The property around the spring was purchased from the United States in 1853. In 1867 in a sworn statement, Dr. T. M. D. Davidson, who had moved to Covington in 1857 and had been a "practicing physician continuously since," stated that "these springs are mineral water-highly medicinal. These springs are valuable on account of the medicinal qualities--I consider them very valuable for being a resort for boarders and invalids."

An ad placed in The St. Tammany Farmer in May of 1880 stated as follows:


MRS. F. A. BOSSIER Has opened her house at the famed Abita Springs, three miles from Covington for the reception of boarders, . . . a pretty cottage, with good well, outhouses etc. near the spring to rent for the season.

On June 26, 1887, the first railroad train arrived at Abita Springs. Some six months later a post office was established.

The Pavilion itself was constructed in 1888: "Messrs. Poitivent and Favre have just built a commodious pavilion over the Springs, so constructed as to be beyond the reach of high water . . . ."

Newspapers of the time stated the "Curative Properties of the waters of the Abita Springs became better known, and the general healthfulness of the locality attracted considerable attention." Simon's Hotel and Restaurant, with a French kitchen in the Parisian Style noted it was the "Closest place to Springs and Depot."

A passenger on the East Louisiana Railroad related his impressions thus:

"Florenville then Abita Springs. Can anyone tell anybody about Abita Springs? I have heard so much about them that I suppose everybody else has heard, that it leaves one at a loss to say anything that has not already been told. The medicinal qualities of the Springs have not been over-rated, so I am told."

An article entitled "Life at Abita Springs" described the pleasure seekers from among the wage-workers and counter hoppers of the great Southern Emporium. "All who can move around light out for a ramble to the springs and through the pinewoods or can recline upon the seats of the ample pavilion. There are four well kept and commodious hotels in a few hundred yards of the main Artesian Saline Calebian Springs . . . "

The community of Abita Springs was formally organized by 1903 and chartered in 1912.

The Pavilion and surrounding grounds were purchased by the State of Louisiana in 1948 and included in the state's park system. It was sold to the St. Tammany Parish School Board in 1965 and was not used for several years.

A New Orleans newspaper, upon learning of the revived interest in the springs wrote in 1972 that a group of concerned Abita residents who remember the charm and magnetism of the old St. Tammany spa of a decade of two ago, with its Abita Park, Pavilion, picnic grounds, bubbling springs and winding spring-fed river are attempting to restore the park to some of its original magnificence. There are scores of New Orleanians who nostalgically remember their childhoods when their parents took them to Abita Springs for the Summer."

The Long Branch Bachelor's Quarters Museum Building

Another component of the Trailhead was also moved to a new location, that being the "bachelor's quarters" of the Long Branch Hotel that was over on Rangeline Road. It was converted into the Abita Trailhead Museum.

On the move (Mary Davis photo)

See also:

Abita Springs Development Proposal 1887 

Abita Springs Park Pavilion - 1984 

Old Abita Springs Pavilion Postcards 

Abita Springs Photos