When Roxana M. Usner was a child, she was among the many Acadiana area schoolchildren who visited the Alexandre Mouton House on a field trip, learning about Lafayette history in the home once owned by a Louisiana governor.
“We all went there as children,” said Usner, director of the Preservation Alliance of Lafayette. “But people younger than that generation do not know about the Alexandre Mouton House-Lafayette Museum.”
Usner hopes to change that, and part of her effort was to include the circa-1800 home in this year’s fourth annual Preservation Festival and History Walk on Saturday, May 9, in downtown Lafayette.
In addition, proceeds from the event will be dedicated to assist with the long-term maintenance costs at the museum, which was started by a group of 24 Lafayette women.
The annual history walk, usually held on Mother’s Day, has been moved up a week to coincide with Second Saturday ArtWalk. Usner hopes the Saturday date will attract more participants to the event, which is hosted by the Preservation Alliance of Lafayette, a nonprofit organization dedicating to cultural and historic preservation in Lafayette.
“We wanted it to be the same day as ArtWalk,” she said. “That keeps people downtown and maybe brings people downtown.”
The Preservation and History Walk includes live music by Major Handy and Carol Fran, refreshments, antique cars and historic tours at the William Brandt House from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Trolley tours of three historic neighborhoods will be conducted beginning and ending at the Brandt House, Usner said. The trolley tours are hosted by Dee Stanley, Lafayette Consolidated Government Chief Administration Officer; Nathan Norris, CEO of Downtown Lafayette; and Carlee Alm Labar, Lafayette Consolidated Government Chief Development Officer.
Tickets for the History Walk and Brandt House tour are $30 and include refreshments and prizes at the Brandt House. Trolley tours are an additional $15 and are available to all History Walk ticket holders.
Buildings to be spotlighted on the History Walk include the Alexandre Mouton House, the 1905 Old Guaranty Bank building that houses Jefferson Street Pub, the 1890 Grado Building that houses Pamplona Tapas Restaurant and the 1880s Brandt House. There will be food and refreshments at each stop.
The Mouton House began as the “Sunday House” for Lafayette’s founder Jean Mouton, Alexandre Mouton’s father. The Mouton family lived outside of what is now downtown Lafayette so used the Sunday House for when they traveled for Mass at St. John Cathedral. The house was later expanded for Alexandre Mouton, Louisiana’s 12th governor.
The building fell into disrepair until a group of 24 women, known as “Les Vingt Quatre” (the 24) purchased the property in 1954, renovated the house and turned it into a museum.
“They bought the house and saved it,” Usner said. “We’re celebrating the 24 ladies who saved that house.”
The Old Guaranty Bank at 500 Jefferson St. is Lafayette’s only historic commercial structure built in the Beaux Arts Neoclassical style, which was unusual for a town consisting of mostly French Colonial style structures, according to the Lafayette City-Parish Register of Historic Properties.
The Grado Building at 631 Jefferson St. has been converted to commercial use but began as a Creole cottage.
The Brandt House at 614 Madison St. was originally a circa-1820s two-room Acadian cottage for the overseer of the Charles Mouton Plantation, Usner said.
The Mouton plantation home existed at the corner of Sterling and Mudd and is now Bois des Chenes bed and breakfast.
William Brandt, who was the court recorder for Vermilionville, the previous name for the city of Lafayette, purchased the house in 1859 and modified the original house. Brandt changed the home’s entrance from facing West Congress to Madison Street, Usner said.
“That modification is the result of what it looks like today,” she said. “It was a much simpler building before.”
The current Greek Revival-style home is dated to 1880 since the roof was reconstructed to its current style and a front gallery added, Usner said.
Owner Sonya LaComb-Boudreaux will be giving tours of the Brandt home during the May 9 event.
Parking for cars and bikes for the Preservation Festival and History Walk will be available at the Public Library Main Branch, located across the street from the Brandt House. The block immediately in front of the historic home will be blocked off for pedestrian use.
For tickets and information, visit preservinglafayette.org or call Lafayette’s Preservation Office at (337) 291-8431.