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Friday, February 25, 2011

New Iberia

I needed a day off badly. And although the pressure of running a business certainly takes its toll, one of the positives is that I make my own schedule. Not wanting to think about work at all today, I decided I would set out to explore and take some photos. I consulted the list of potential topics for the blog and decided today would be a good day to drive out to New Iberia – a cute little Cajun town I had been through a couple years ago. As an added bonus, my wife was off work today, so she joined me on the expedition. So I guess this one wasn't “solo,” but I figure you'll forgive me.

New Iberia traces its history all the way back to 1779, when it was settled by a group of Malaguenian colonists. As I think we've touched on before in this blog, South Louisiana Cajun/Creole culture is largely a mix of French and Spanish influence. Malaguenian refers to the town of Malaga in Spain. New “Iberia” of course refers to the Iberian penninsula. My wife and I primarily just explored the downtown area. Let's take a look.

schwing insurance agency building

main street, new iberia

The home pictured below is Shadows on the Teche. The Malaguenians arrived in the area via Bayou Teche, which runs alongside Main Street. Shadows on the Teche was built in the 1830s for sugarcane planter David Weeks. It is a National Historic Landmark.

shadows on the teche

Shadows on the Teche has a number of very handsome homes as neighbors.

main street home, new iberia

main street home, new iberia

Some were decorated for Mardi Gras.

main street mardi gras decorations

main street home, new iberia

main street law firm office

The St. Peter's College Grotto is a replica of the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto in France.

st. peters college groto

posts and porches apartments

main street building

ford, jewelry, ford

main street building

The Evangeline Theater was originally a wholesale grocery, but converted to a movie house in 1929. It is listed in the National Register of Historical Places.

sliman theater for the performing arts

main street view

pair of main street buildings

main street opulence

new iberia side street

The Essanee Theater dates to 1937.

essanee theater

I wouldn't recommend stepping out to the balcony.

don't step on the balcony

new iberia side street

Best I can tell, they really do race alligators.

the great gator race

main street view

new iberia graffiti

la petite mall

This monument highlights the Spanish heritage of the area.

bouligny monument

tuxedo rentals

The Gouguenheim dates to 1894. This is apparently one of only a few buildings that survived a large fire that destroyed much of downtown New Iberia in 1899.


I bet this is the only sushi bar in the world named “Bojangles.”

bojangles sushi


ticket taker

st. peters catholic church

Finally, we were hoping to find some good home cookin' while we were in New Iberia, but it didn't work out. Instead, we stopped at the famous Mulate's in Breaux Bridge (a.k.a. “the Crawfish Capitol of the World”). Suffice it to say we experienced it but probably won't go back.

mulates entrance

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Over in Iberville

Hello, friends. I had an appointment in White Castle today and had the opportunity to explore a little bit. As you may recall from a previous post about the White Castle Ferry, the area is not far from Baton Rouge as the crow flies. However, we have this big river that gets in the way. On my way to my appointment, I crossed the Horace Wilksinson Bridge (a.k.a, “the new bridge” over to West Baton Rouge Parish, and then took LA-1 south.

On the way down LA-1, you pass through Plaquemine, LA. I was once again reminded that I need to spend some time in Plaquemine with the camera. Today was not the day, though – Plaquemine will take the better part of a day to explore. Therefore, after my meeting, and in service to you, dear reader, I took the circuitous route back to the bridge via River Road. I had never taken this particular stretch. There were a few pleasant surprises.

On the way out of White Castle, it's impossible to miss Nottoway Plantation. I've seen just about all of the so-called River Road Plantations now, and in my opinion, Nottoway is the most impressive structure. Others, like Oak Alley Plantation, have the gorgeous, erm, oak alleys, but Nottoway is a far more impressive building, at least from the exterior.

Finished in 1859, the home is miraculously a Civil War survivor and measures a robust 53,000 square feet. You can find out more about the history of Nottoway on their website. Here are a few pictures I snapped on my way past.

nottoway approach

nottoway plantation

nottoway behind the trees

Below is St. Paul Catholic Church in Bayou Goula. Apparently the church is over 150 years old and suffered damage during Hurricane Gustav. You can find more information, and see more pictures, here.

st. paul catholic church

Cows having lunch on the levee.

lunchtime on the levee

Further down the road.

power line, roadside memorial

At one point, I was driving about 50 miles per hour, and very nearly missed this weathered road sign. I literally snapped my head to the left and slammed on the brakes, then threw it in reverse for about 500 feet. Luckily, traffic was light.

madonna chapel road sign

Apparently Madonna Chapel measures 8' by 8' and was built in 1902 by a poor sugar farmer after an answered prayer to the Blessed Mother for his son.

world's smallest church

Finally, I blew a lot of time at this cemetery, St. Raphael Cemetery, just outside Plaquemine, before River Road rejoins LA-1. Some of the graves date to the mid-1800s.

cross, st. raphael cemetery

st. raphael cemetery graves

st. raphael cemetery graves 2

earle, saurage tomb

cut down

aged 26 years

together forever

damaged tomb

tomb at st. raphael cemetery


monument at st. raphael cemetery

st. raphael cemetery monuments