Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A Walk Around Covington in 1904

 Thanks to the Sanborn Map company, as well as the U.S. Library of Congress, we have access to a rather detailed map of downtown Covington as it was in 1904. These maps were made every several years to inform insurance companies on the various building construction materials, fire hazards, and water supply capabilities of towns across America. 

NOTE: The buildings on these maps were color coded to indicate type of construction and materials, so most of them are yellow (wood frame), some of them are red (brick), and a few of them are blue, made of stone. 

To begin our tour of 1904 Covington, let's look at the section of town below Boston Street. I have added boldface typed labels to help you read the smaller hand-printed text on the buildings themselves. Click on the images to make them larger. 


The buildings in the area between New Hampshire and Florida, south of Boston St.

In this map section, the top corner shows the intersection of Boston Street and New Hampshire. On the southeast corner, there is a vacant lot. Over the years that location has been the site of Parkview Theater, a Ford Dealership, Hebert's Drugs, and Dunning's Florist. Today that location is occupied by Del Porto Restaurant. 

Just south of that vacant lot is the Wehrli House, the well known residence of a prominent local businessman. That space is currently occupied by the Citizens Bank and Trust parking lot. 

Moving eastward (to the right) along Boston, we come to Columbia Street, where a Saloon is situated where the St. John's Coffee House is today, and south of that is a General Store (possibly Louis Medal's grocery), and another general store next to the alleyway. 

On the other side of Columbia St., there is a general Hardware store at the corner of Boston and Columbia (probably Smith Hardware), and adjacent to that brick building is a storage building.

Going southward, we find the post office, and next to it is a drug store. Facing the alley entrance across the street is a meat market. There were several of those in town.

Back on the west side of the street below the alley was a bakery, located where the Heritage Bank building stands today.

Below the bakery, skipping over the vacant lot where the Matador Lounge would be located in the future, at the corner of Rutland street were offices and a warehouse.


Remember that this is just a block up Columbia St. from Columbia Landing, so there are a lot of warehouses in the area, filled with farm produce heading down to New Orleans on the next schooner or steamer. More on that later.

Once we come to the intersection of Rutland and Columbia, to the west we find a wagon shop mid-block on Rutland, a dentist's office, and surprise, at the corner, a telephone exchange. I thought that the first telephone exchange was on the other end of the block at the corner of New Hampshire. Later maps show that's where the telephone exchange was, so this 1904 map may be showing us the "first" telephone exchange office. 

Advertisements from 1904 show us that there were at least 92 telephones in Covington at that time.  

Behind the dentist office on Rutland Street is a tin shop. 

 The Mackie House

Down on the southwest corner of that block, where New Hampshire street intersects Independence Street, is the building now known as "The Mackie House." Across the alleyway from the Mackie House on Independence Street is another surprise, The Sisters of Mercy School (with eaves going up to 18 feet).

Columbia Landing is at the end of Columbia Street, and just half a block up from the river is a building identified as a printing shop.

Heading northward along Columbia we come again to Rutland St., where the Masonic Lodge should be but I don't see it marked. It was a wood frame building around that time, the two-story brick building of today having being built in 1924.  Crossing over Rutland, we see a General Store at the corner, east side of the street, with a meat market right north of it.

Heading eastward on Rutland from the Columbia Street crossing, we see the Covington House hotel mid-block on the south side, and across the street next to the alleyway is a Cobbler.  There used to be one or more shoe repair places in downtown Covington as late as the 1970's.

The interesting structure at the end of Florida Street, below the alleyway and right next to the river, is the Warehouse of the Schooner Rosa A. The schooner used to dock nearby and load and unload cargo on a regular schedule.

 The Schooner Rosa A. dock

Traveling up Florida St., the buildings are mostly residential dwellings. These include the house that is now occupied by the English Tea Room at the northwest corner of the Rutland Street, Florida Street intersection. 

The English Tea Room

From time to time, the Sanborn Maps would include a look at structures outside the target area, showing the possible fire hazards in various buildings plus information about the water supply available. Below is the insert map showing St. Joseph's Academy, which was located four miles north of the parish courthouse as indicated on the map.  


We will continue our walk around 1904 downtown Covington in tomorrow's blog article.

 See also: