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Walking Tour Through Downtown Breaux Bridge


 


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Begin the walk at the Bayou Teche Visitors Center (314 E. Bridge St.).  Walk down the steps or walk on our wharf and enjoy a scenic view of Bayou Teche. Notice the beautiful porches and landscaped yard of the nearby bed and breakfasts. You'll have friends for life if you bring some stale bread for the neighborhood ducks.

Get a closeup view of the bridge of 1950, the second steel bridge to span the bayou in Breaux Bridge. This bridge was built after the previous bridge collapsed. Note the painted crawfish atop the bridge, celebrating our legacy as the "Crawfish Capitol of the World".

When you look across the street next to the left of the bridge you'll see the Teche Lounge, which operated from 1950 until a couple of years ago when the proprietor passed away. The lounge was known by locals for its tradition of being a "men only" establishment.

Next to the Teche Lounge stands an old ice house. You can still make out the chute on the front of the building where they would send out blocks of ice.

Continuing into downtown along Bridge St. you will come to the Old Bank Building (300 E. Bridge St.) at the corner of Bridge and Washington Streets. Built in 1901, this was the second brick structure in Breaux Bridge and it served as our community's first bank. 

If you take a left onto Washington St. you will pass the Jules Broussard Building (105 Washington, behind the old bank building). Built in 1885 this building served first as a general store, then as Breaux Bridge's first public school. In 1920 it was moved to its present location by log rollers and a team of oxen. Here it has served as an opera house, a temporary armory hall, a Woodmen of the World meeting hall and a shoe repair shop. It is presently owned and occupied by a world famous photographer who uses it as her home and studio.

The next building you come to (107 Washington St.) was built c. 1892. The Boudier House is a one story frame house featuring Queen Anne influenced polygonal bay and Eastlake galleries. It presently operates as a bed and breakfast inn.

Continuing along Washington, the next building will be Silvestre Broussard House (205 Washington), built in 1811. A Creole Acadian cottage, the front part of the house is the oldest structure in Breaux Bridge. It has provided room and board to area residents, guests and traveling salesmen since the 1850's. It features three sets of French doors opening onto the historically restored front gallery. The building is constructed of 4-inch hand-hewn beams, with mortise and tenon joints. It features baton and bousillage walls (bousillage is a mixture of mud and clay that served as an excellent insulator) with plaster finish and 12 foot tall exposed beam ceilings. The back section was added during the late 19th century, as bayou traffic increased. It presently operates as a bed and breakfast inn.

After viewing these homes, return to Bridge St., taking a left on Bridge to continue the walking tour. You'll pass one of our old theater before coming to 200/202 E. Bridge St., the Potier Building. Constructed in 1898, this two story brick commercial building of tin covered cypress with residential space upstairs boasts an interior which features pressed tin ceilings and long leaf pine floors. The storefronts have housed a restaurant, an infant and children's clothing store and a hat and dress shop. They currently house antique and gift shops and upstairs continues to serve as residential space.

Cross the side street and continue along Bridge St. to the next building, the Frank Pellerin Building (140 E. Bridge St.) This structure, built in 1925, features pressed tin ceilings, brick walls, and wood floors. It was built by Frank Pellerin who operated a mercantile store there until the 1940's. This was followed by a shop that sold fabrics, lace, ladies garments and religious supplies. The store stayed vacant throughout the 1980's and was purchased in 1991 for the café it continues to house. Take a peek inside because there is always an art exhibit highlighting the work of one of our many regional artists. Also, permanently housed in the café is an Acadiana Sculpture Gardens piece entitled "Le Ladousa Lure".

Look across the street from the café and you will see an authentic Acadian house, the Badon House (129 E. Bridge), built in 1869. The house has recently been restored and is home to an art gallery.

Continuing along Bridge St., will come to Begnaud's Hardware Store (118 E. Bridge) c. 1899. This was the first brick structure built in Breaux Bridge. It is a one story commercial building with corbelled cornice and the original wooden shopfront decorated with cast-iron pilasters. It served as a hardware store that also carried carriages, wagons and buggies. The building next to this hardware store served as a "bouree" hall until recently. Bouree is a very popular Cajun card game. If you're ready for a break, you can stop by a sidewalk café also located on Bridge St.

When you get to the corner of Bridge and Main Sts., look across Bridge St. to your right to see the Kidder Building (101 E. Bridge). Built in 1909, this structure stands at the old four-corners intersection. The building, which was originally intended as a saloon, has served as a cock fight arena and a WWII dance hall. It has housed many businesses including a health center, a Karate School, a gift shop and a clothing store. It is currently the home of La Napoleon.

Take a left onto S. Main St. Patin's Pharmacy, c. 1917 (113 S. Main St.) This commercial building first served as the People's Bank of Breaux Bridge. It operated as a pharmacy from the 1920's until the early 1990's. It presently houses a  boutique store .


Go to the corner of the block and cross the street to get a good look at the Fourgeaud House (130 S. Main). Built in 1905 the house was constructed for Dr. Louis Fourgeaud, a native of France who began practicing medicine in Breaux Bridge in 1885 after obtaining a diploma from the Tulane Medical School. The house later served as a hotel, a private residence, a gift shop and bridal boutique and a reception hall and café. The house stood vacant for many years while local citizens negotiated to save the structure. It has undergone recent preservation renovations and is listed on the National Historic Register.

Heading back towards Bridge St. you will come to Farmers-Merchants Bank on the corner of Bridge and Main. Cross Bridge and continue along N. Main. The first building you will come to is Broussard's Hardware Store, built in 1921 (105 N. Main). This large two story galleried corner frame building clad in rusticated metal designed to resemble stone retains its original pressed tin ceiling and much of its original hardware store accoutrements. The two-tier gallery has simple posts which rest on brick bases on the lower level. A hardware store went into business here beginning in 1925 and remained in operation until the mid 1990's. The store has since housed an antique and Victorian gift shop and presently houses a flower shop, Flowers & Flowers.  Lucullus is an adjacent shop in the building offer unique antiques.

Continuing along N. Main, you will walk past a drug store that has been in operation by the same family since 1938. You will then pass a flower, jewelry and gift shop.

When you get to the corner of Bridge and Courthouse Sts. You can look across the street to see St. Bernard Catholic Church (204 N. Main). After the deterioration of a previous church built in 1857, Rev. P. A. Borel identified the need for the new church. Construction began on this twin steepled, French-Roman architecturally styled building in 1933 and was completed in 1934. Artifacts from the previous church were moved in and materials used in the construction came from the Breaux Bridge area, including the exterior bricks, which were made by a former brick company in Breaux Bridge. Many of the local craftsmen participated in the construction of the church.

Turn left onto Courthouse St. and you will pass the library, the parish agriculture building.  When you get to the corner of Courthouse and Berard Sts., look left to see City Hall and to your right is City Parc. The oak trees are registered with the Live Oak Society and are over 200 years old. Before a Catholic church building had been built in Breaux Bridge, residents would meet under these trees for mass.

If you turn right onto Berard St., you will pass the Veterans Monuments and a statue of Scholastique Picou Breaux, our founder. To the rear of the park is the old bandstand. The bandstand was constructed with bricks collected when each family was asked to send a brick to school with one of their children. The bricks came from a Breaux Bridge brick factor. The bandstand served as a public gathering spot that hosted frequent outdoor concert performances as well as political speeches, including a speech by the late Huey Long.

When you reach the corner of Berard and Martin Sts., look to the left to see the Jaeger House (305 Berard St.). Built in 1896 by Victor Jaeger, this 2 story Queen Anne home with Eastlake details features a 2-sided wrap around gallery, a large bay room and a large dormer above the gallery with a door and private balcony. The home has been painted in its original colors of gray, dark green and burgundy. The round floor has handmade glass windows. Jaeger was a noted salesman and businessman and was known as the first Breaux Bridge citizen to own an automobile. An operational windmill once stood on the property making this the first home in the parish to have running water. It is presently a private residence.

Turn right onto Martin St. and you will pass the junior high school on the left and headquarters of one of our state's finest Volunteer Fire Departments on the right.

Cross over Main St., continuing straight onto St. Bernard Dr. Notice St. Bernard Cemetary No. 1 (200 block of N. Main St.) to your right. This unique cemetery featuring many above ground tombs, dates back to the mid-1800's when it was opened after the establishment of the St. Bernard Catholic Church Parish. Prior to this time, families buried their dead on family properties. Buried in the cemetery are remains of families who settled the area, several prominent citizens, veterans of the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Tombstones feature many Cajun and French names.

Continue along St. Bernard Dr. and you will come to Parc des Ponts de Pont Breaux (park of bridges of Breaux Bridge). The old oaks that stand along the bayouside were likely the oaks that provided stability to the first footbridge across Bayou Teche in Breaux Bridge. This first bridge was built by Firmin Breaux and is probably where the name of our city evolved. (When giving directions, people would say "Go to Breaux's bridge. . . ".) The footbridge was likely a suspension bridge made of rope and small planks. The ropes were tied to the oak trees for stability.

Along the bayouside the bridge of 1855 has been converted to an outdoor cultural stage that doubles as a fishing pier. This was our first turn-table bridge. During the Civil War, confederate troops set the bridge ablaze in an effort to slow down Union troops. The Union troops successfully put out the fire and were able to repair the bridge for temporary use. In 1891, the bridge was moved to the neighboring community of Ruth, where many of its wooden timbers were replaced with steel beams, but the turn-table mechanism was retained. When a newer bridge replaced this bridge in Ruth, the City of Breaux Bridge had it reassembled along the bayouside for public use.

To the right of the bridge is a flag pole. You'll notice a black line several feet high on the flag pole. This is the water mark for the flood of 1927.

Continuing along St. Bernard Dr.,  you will come to a marble and granite snake sculpture which maps the communities along the 124 mile Bayou Teche and tells the Chitimacha Indian legend of how the bayou came to be.

As you near the end of St. Bernard Dr., St. Bernard School is to your right. On the gym wall of the school is a mural depicting the original school. When you get to Bridge St., turn left and cross over the bridge.

The first home to your left will be the Ransonet House (431 E. Bridge St.) built in 1898. The Ransonet House was built by Leonce Ransonet for his wife. He was a local public servant, musician and businessman whose mercantile store stood next door to the home. The home is a 2-story Eastlake with a wrap around gallery. It features a 2 story octagon tower with fish scale siding. It presently serves as a private residence.

Before you cross over the bridge to return to the Visitors Center, notice that the sign for Breaux Bridge atop the bridge is in French. Cross the bridge, making sure to get a good view of our meandering bayou, then return to the Bayou Teche Visitors Center where our friendly and helpful travel counselors will be happy to answer questions about our wonderful community, such as where to eat, where to sleep, where to dance and where to shop. We hope you enjoyed this tour!

 
 
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