(Opelousas, LA) – Bronze plaques that highlight some of the former merchants and property owners can now be seen on various corners in downtown Opelousas. The preservation project was made possible through a State Certified Local Government grant in the amount of $6800. The grant, which was submitted by the City Tourism through its Historic District Commission, is administered through the Louisiana Office of Historic Preservation and funded through the National Park Service.
Grant funds were used to fund six bronze plaques that identify the former merchants and businesses that were once located on various city blocks in the downtown area. These include:
-Jacob’s Corner - Northeast corner of Bellevue and Main streets - Named for Solomon Jacobs, an immigrant from Germany who opened his mercantile store on this corner during the 1860s. -Bloch Corner - Northwest corner of Bellevue and Main streets –Named for Joseph Bloch (c. 1833-1900) who migrated from France and operated a successful mercantile store on this corner from the late 1850s until the later part of that century.
-King’s Corner - Southwest corner of Landry and Main streets - Named for the family of Felix King who owned a general merchandise store on the corner as early as 1847. King also served as President of the Board of Police for the City. The building was demolished around 1888 and replaced with the First National Bank of Opelousas, which later became St. Landry Bank.
-Budd’s Corner - Northwest corner of Bellevue and Court streets- Named for J. Adam Budd who owned a building on this corner for many years, where he operated a saloon. Also located in the Budd Building in the early 1900s was the Elk Restaurant owned by chef Charles A. “Didee” Lastrapes, who later owned and operated the famous Didee’s Restaurant.
-Manon’s Corner- Northeast corner of Court and Landry streets– Named for Manon Baldwin, the first known businesswoman in Opelousas. Manon was a Free Women of Color who owned many businesses in Opelousas during her lifetime.
-Pitre’s Corner - Southeast Corner of Bellevue and Court Streets - Named for Charles Pitre, who owned a building on the corner for many years. The Pitre building housed several businesses, including Eddy’s Pool Hall and Saloon, and the Eddy Hotel.
The interpretive signage project is a part of a legacy project related to the City’s 300-year celebration scheduled for 2020. The Historic Corner project incorporated community partners which included the Opelousas Tricentennial Commission, Opelousas Tourism, Opelousas Main Street, Inc. and Opelousas Historic District Commission.
Last year, three pedestrian kiosks in downtown Opelousas were installed as part of another Certified Local Grant. Funds from that grant were also used to revise and print copies of the city’s Historic District Walking Tour Guide. In addition, throughout the years, Opelousas Tourism has been awarded over $35,000 in Certified Local Grant funding which have funded projects such as the Old General Store Exhibit inside the Andrepont Store at Le Vieux Village, the Zydeco Panel Interpretive Exhibit, interpretive signage for Le Vieux Village, Historic District street sign toppers and pedestrian kiosks.