Brookie Allphin knew it was coming but could not stop nostalgia from flooding through her mind as her childhood home — which later housed School Time Uniforms in Bocage Village — was demolished Monday.
Allphin remembered how she and her brother used to ride their horses, Gingham and Calico, down the rural Jefferson Highway when they were growing up in the mid-1960s. Times have changed.
Along Jefferson Highway, Bocage Village became a bustling shopping center with boutiques and restaurants and with Allphin’s former home sitting in the corner, painted bright red. A demolition crew on Monday destroyed the old home, making room for more parking, green space and a new School Time corporate headquarters.
Four generations of Allphin’s family lived in the house.
Allphin estimated that the house was built in the early 1900s, before her grandparents moved in. The house was white back then and constructed from planks of cedar and pine. It had a long, oak-lined driveway.
Her parents — her father was former Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Allphin Jr. — raised her in a home next door. Allphin said they had frequent bonfires in the backyard to raise money for her clubs at Baton Rouge High School in the 1970s. They kept sheep, goats and other animals behind the house.
Allphin later raised her own children in both the houses.
In the 1980s, Allphin’s family had the house considered for landmark status. She said they could have attained it, but the landmark designation would not allow them to remodel the house as they had planned.
Her family let go of the idea of historically preserving it, and instead added on to it.
It wasn’t long after when Ralph and Kacoo Olinde knocked on her door, asking her to buy the house. Allphin told them it was not for sale, but she eventually relented.
The house became an antique store until School Time bought it in the early 1990s. That’s when it became the eye-catching red schoolhouse.
For the past few years, School Time has been trying to expand its Bocage Village shop. The company is in the process of putting the finishing touches on a newly built larger shop behind the old house.
School Time President Jeff DaQuanno said they will move its corporate headquarters next door.
The old house was not the easiest to use for business, DaQuanno said. His foot slipped ankle-deep through the old floor as he gave a tour of the gutted rooms on Monday morning before the demolition.
“We were at the point where it just had to go,” he said.
DaQuanno said the decision to tear down the old house was not controversial, as School Time owned the property.
Allphin also said many of her family members work in real estate and they can appreciate the progress in Baton Rouge, despite their personal memories of a time before their home was part of a commercialized shopping center.
“I like to see Baton Rouge grow,” she said. “But from a selfish standpoint, I wish we were still out in the country.”
She stopped by the old house this weekend, and she took the mantle and some wood back home with her.
Though her childhood home no longer remains, Allphin will not be far from where it once stood. She and her family started a new subdivision behind the old home, which they named Dove Hollow.
“I’ve always been able to see the chimney from my backyard,” Allphin said.
But now, she’ll be back where her house once stood when she buys uniforms for her grandchildren.