Stroll Through History at the St. Landry Parish Courthouse Square
The St. Landry Parish Courthouse Square in Opelousas, Louisiana is the perfect way to experience the centuries of history and culture that the Zydeco Capital of the World has to offer, all in a condensed area of the picturesque downtown.
When you visit downtown Opelousas, because of how long the city has stood, you get a nice timeline of building styles throughout Louisiana's history. From Victorian-era houses to Greek Revival and even Romanesque brick buildings, the collection of styles is unique to Opelousas. Historic Walking Tour Maps that denote all the architecturally significant buildings around Opelousas can be found at the Opelousas Tourist Information Center located in Le Vieux Village, right at the entrance to downtown.
A courthouse has been on the square in downtown Opelousas since 1806. From that first wooden building to the grey-stone behemoth that stands there today, five buildings have served as the courthouse for St. Landry Parish. The current structure has been around since 1939. The others were either lost to fires or torn down to make space for larger buildings. Built in the Art Deco style, which was popular during the '20s and '30s, the building features a limestone façade and original Art Deco lamps, as well as two Victorian lamp poles that were placed in the square in the 1890s.
The building's façade includes sculptures done by New Orleans artist Angela Gregory, who studied in France under master craftsman, Monsieur Benedetti. Her work is featured on the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge and around the U.S. and Europe.
On the grounds of the courthouse, you can take photos with a statue of Saint Landry, the consecrated bishop of Paris from the year 650, as well as the parish's namesake. The bronze statue was sculpted by Kim Bernadas, a New Orleans figurative and portrait sculptor with over 20 years of experience.
Steps away from the statue of Saint Landry is the St. Landry Parish Courthouse Bell. In 1886, molten copper was poured into a mold by J. Register & Sons in Baltimore, Maryland. The result was a shining bell weighing over 1,000 pounds. The bell was shipped to Louisiana and would ring out across the city during emergencies, significant events and court business. The bell was only recently recovered from where it was hidden away on the third floor of the courthouse. Now, it stands proudly on display on the courthouse lawn.
Exploring the St. Landry Parish Courthouse Square can fit into any itinerary. Stroll through the oaks that border the square after breakfast at Chicory's, lunch at Back in Time Café or an afternoon cup of coffee at Java Square Café. These eateries all have great views of the square and each has a history ready to be discovered.
November sees the arrival of a new bookshop added to the landscape of the courthouse square. Black Pot Bookshop has an eclectic collection of local books as well as Louisiana-themed art, textiles and décor. More than a cozy retail space where visitors can collect Louisiana-themed curios, Black Pot Bookshop will introduce historic tours of downtown Opelousas, provide a space to collect memorabilia, oral stories, and spoken poetry, and even organize historical demonstrations.
See more things to do at Cajuntravel.com. From there, you can contact us for personalized help planning your visit to St. Landry Parish.
Courtesy of St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission.
Photo Courtesy of St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission.