Since its beginning in 1927, the Festival of Lights has grown into Louisiana’s premier community based Yule time celebration and is one of the oldest celebrations in the United States. During the holiday season Natchitoches, has much more to offer than 300,000 Christmas lights and over 100 displays. In addition, the Natchitoches Historic Foundation will present its annual Christmas Tour of Homes during the second and third weeks in December. Historic homes and buildings featured include the Chaplin House, Sweet Cane Inn, Emma’s Cottage, Prud’homme-Rouquier House, Lemee House, Trinity Episcopal Church, Historic Cunningham Law Offices and the Historic Natchitoches Courthouse.
The schedule for the homes is as listed:
•Thursday, Dec. 16, from 5-8 p.m.: Cunningham Law Offices, Chaplin House and Historic Natchitoches Courthouse
•Friday, Dec. 10 and 17, from 5-8 p.m.: Prud’homme-Rouquier House, Sweet Cane Inn and Emma’s Cottage
•Saturday, Dec. 11 and 18, from 1-4 p.m.: Cunningham Law Offices, Lemee House and Trinity Episcopal Church
•Cunningham Law Offices, 550 Second St.
The Cunningham Law Office, now the Natchitoches Historic Foundation headquarters, was built in 1860 by Henry Safford. The building was constructed of 36-foot virgin pine sills held in place by wooden pegs, still as sound as the day they were fitted together by hand. When completed, the building sold for the fascinating sum of $1,883.44 5/12. The building, now on The National Register of Historic Places, contains beautifully restored heart of pine floors.
•Chaplin House, 434 Second St.
A fine example of Victorian architecture circa 1892. Particularly interesting are the wide gallery, the original fan-shaped floor and the curved roof of the main entrance. This was also the home of Aunt Fern in the film Steel Magnolias.
•Historic Natchitoches Courthouse, 600 Second St.
The Old Courthouse, constructed in 1896, is an example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Plans for the courthouse were developed by the Favrot and Livaudais architectural firm of New Orleans. The architects designed the courthouse and the building’s arched, recessed windows and the prominent center tower are typical of this style.
•Prud’homme-Rouqier House, 446 Jefferson St.
This Save America’s Treasures property, circa 1790, is the only known two and one-half story bousillage structure on the North American continent. Owned and operated by the Service League of Natchitoches, Inc., the house went through an extensive restoration in 2005.
•Sweet Cane Inn, 926 Washington St.
An elegant, century old Victorian home, Sweet Cane Inn Bed and Breakfast was built for Congressman Phanor Breazeale in the late 1800s. Among its many unique features are 12-foot ceilings, 11 fireplaces and a wall of stained glassed windows at the top of the stairs which curve and lead to seven beautifully spacious rooms and suites.
•Emma’s Cottage, 911 Washington St.
A Sears, Roebuck kit house built in 1939 and embellished with brick and other amenities, the Doris Emma’s bungalow retains its original kitchen. The cottage is noted for its collection of nutcrackers and Santa displays during the Christmas season.
•Lemee House, 310 Jefferson St.
The Lemee House was constructed in 1837 by an Italian contractor, whose last name was Soldini. In 1849, it was sold to Alexis Lemee who housed not only his family but also the Union Bank of New Orleans. Today, it is the headquarters for the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches.
•Trinity Episcopal Church, 533 Second St.
Trinity Episcopal Church was the first non-Roman Catholic church in Natchitoches and the third Episcopal church in Louisiana. The building is of Gothic-Norman architecture. The exterior walls of masonry vary in thickness from 22-28 inches. Large laminated wood arches that resemble a wagon vault span the interior. All beams are tied directly into the brickwork. The wood flooring is of hand cut timber. A sturdy, buttressed bell tower gives added dignity to the main structure. The bell, said to be of one-third silver, was cast especially for this church at the Troy Bell Foundry of Troy, N.Y.
For more information on the Holiday Tour of Homes or for a complete schedule of homes, visit the Natchitoches Historic Foundation online at www.natchitocheshf.com.
For more information on upcoming events, contact the Natchitoches Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 259-1714 or online at www.natchitoches.com.