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Local History: Covington In The Early 1930’s by Philip E. Pfeffer

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Introducing our new Local History segment provided by local historical writer Ron Barthet. View his blog Tammany Family here.

We turn now to the recollections of Philip E. Pfeffer for an overview of Covington in the early 1930’s, some 90 years ago. This account was written on February 27, 1993.

Covington In The Early 1930’s by Philip E. Pfeffer

The court house was a wooden structure of two stories, and it well filled the needs of St. Tammany Parish. As one entered the courthouse from Boston Street there was a wide hallway the length of the edifice. To the left of the hall was the office of the sheriff, housing the “High Sheriff’, a chief deputy, an “outside” deputy, and a clerk.

images provided by Ron Barthet
images provided by Ron Barthet

To the right of the hall was the office of the Clerk of the Court, in which worked the clerk himself and a couple of deputies. Going further to the right there was a “blister”, a concrete building not more than twenty five feet square, housing all mortgage and conveyance and court records.

To the rear of the court house proper was a large wooden room which housed the police jury and its secretary and the assessor. A separate brick two story edifice, fifteen or twenty feet square, was the parish jail.

images provided by Ron Barthet
James T. Burns

Robert D. “Bob” Jones was the sole judge of the 22nd Judicial District for Washington and St. Tammany Parishes. James T. “Jim” Burns was the only district attorney for both parishes. Neither had a secretary or a law clerk.

Bob Jones lived in Bogalusa in a modest home and came to Covington one week a month to try cases. Sometimes the docket was bare and he didn’ t come at all.

The lawyers in Covington were Lewis L. Morgan, Harvey E. Ellis and his son Frank, J. Monroe Simmons, Dalton J. Barranger, Arthur Finney, Fred J. Heintz, Victor Planche, Lindsay McDougall, Victor V. Blackwell, Adrian Schwartz, perhaps one or two more.

The Slidell lawyers were Gus Fritchie Sr., L.V. Cooley, Jr., Sidney Provensal, E.F. Hailey, perhaps one or two more.

images provided by Ron Barthet

Drug stores were all over the place. The principal one was Schonberg’s, whose motto was “follow the crowd – there’s a reason.” It was a gathering place, with its soda fountain, for after school and other events. It was on New Hampshire Street in the Southern Hotel Building, right next to the (then) post office.

images provided by Ron Barthet

Next to the pharmacy was a door leading to the upstairs office of H. E. Gautreaux, M.D.

An amusing story concerns a woman’s purse which was left at the drug store. It was placed in a conspicuous place so the owner could claim it. Days went into weeks but no one came forth. At length a grammar school boy with a considerably older sister spied the purse and announced “Why, that’s my sister’s.” A hush came over the place for it was well known that the purse contained a package of condoms – something disgraceful in those days.

About where the former office of August J. Planche was the drug store of Oliver J. Hebert, who had been a pharmacist for Schonberg’s and broke away to start his own place. He later moved into the corner building on New Hampshire and Boston Streets.

images provided by Ron Barthet
Herbert Drugs circa 1980’s

On Columbia Street in the middle of the block was the City Drug Store, owned by Stanley and Percy ‘Theriot. These brothers bottled a vicious green fluid entitled “Ant enemy”, which sold hundreds of bottles. In one corner was an alcove with entrance to the office of H. D. Bulloch, M.D.

images provided by Ron Barthet

On the corner (where else?) of Columbia and Gibson Streets, in the brick “Badon Building” was the Corner Drug Store, presided over by Mr. L. J. Nicolle. To the rear in a separate entrance was the office of Ludwig Heintz, M.D.

Dr. F. B. Buquoi had an upstairs office in the brick building on the corner of Boston and Columbia Streets, which had housed the Covington Bank & Trust Company, whose boast was “St. Tammany’s Million Dollar Bank.” One of Dr. Buquoi’s sons often referred to his father’s “assets over a million dollars.”

It was a joke around town that there was a saloon on every corner and another in the middle of the block. One recalls Charlie Jenkins and Paul Herbez, on each side of the alley on Gibson Street between Columbia and New Hampshire Streets.

images provided by Ron Barthet
images provided by Ron Barthet

“Tugy’s” was in the Southern Hotel Building near the corner of New Hampshire, presided over by Julius Tugenhaft, a public spirited citizen. He boasted that he charged a cent a bottle of beer more than other places, and that these pennies would build him a house. This turned out to be true.

A number of Covington citizens who later became prominent in other fields got their start as saloon keepers.

The Roman Catholic Church was near the fair grounds. The square it now occupies was vacant and a diagonal path through it showed its use as a short cut. The Presbyterian Church was where it is now, but much smaller, having many years later been enlarged. The Methodist Church was in its present location but was a wooden building. The Baptist Church was a converted home and was known as “the poorest church in town.”

images provided by Ron Barthet
The Covington 1st Baptist Church Building, Jefferson Avenue at 23rd Avenue

High school students were glorying in their new building under the name of Elmer E. Lyon High School, named after the (then) Parish Superintendent of Schools, which was placed in operation at the beginning of the 1925-26 school session. It was in the square bounded by Jefferson, Madison, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth.

images provided by Ron Barthet
Covington High Old Entrance

The superintendent’s office was just inside the entrance of the front door. The staff consisted of Mr. Lyon himself, Josie Frederick, and Josie Diehl. A state law later forbade the naming of any public facility after a living person, and the name was changed back to Covington High School.

Up to 1925 the high school had been on the upper floor of the very substantial brick (not brick veneer) building in the square bounded by Jefferson, Theard, Twenty Third and Twenty Fourth. This same building continued to be the only other public school in the town. It is now utilized as the C. J. Schoen Middle School.

Lyon High School was attended not only by Covingtonians but by pupils from Abita Springs, Mandeville, Madisonville, and even Sun and Bush.

A public spirited citizen had donated fifty thousand dollars to erect a cupola over Lyon High School, in which was housed a large four-sided clock which sounded the hour loudly all over town. Unfortunately this did not survive a later fire and was never replaced.

St. Scholastica’s School (Convent) was housed in a huge three (four?) story wooden building painted green. It had great potential as a fire trap which fortunately it did not fulfill. It later had to be torn down by orders of the Fire Marshall.

images provided by Ron Barthet
St. Scholastica’s School

St. Paul’s College (known as college because of the Latin “Colegio”, but later changed to St. Paul’s High School), was under the auspices of The Christian Brothers, who did not believe in sparing the rod. In fact a venerable teacher named Brother Raphael was known by the students as “Bre’r Rap”.

St. Paul’s was widely attended by boarding pupils from Central and South America and the Caribbean. Generations of Covington day students got an education which many considered superior to that obtained in the public school.

Saturday nights at the town’s only movie palace were a riot, as the St. Paul’s boarding students, confined to their campus all week, descended. Loud was the appreciation for the escapades shown on the silver screen.

images provided by Ron Barthet
the Majestic Theatre circa 1930’s

Pre schools and kindergartens were virtually unknown but later “Miss Reeder’s” on Seventeenth Avenue prepared a great host of Covingtonians for their first grade.

Check out Ron Barthet’s blog Tammany Family for more great local history!

Local Events Local News

Public Notice: Special Meeting for Covington Tree Board

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Picture courtesy Keep Covington Beautiful

Picture courtesy Keep Covington Beautiful

The Covington Tree Board will host a special meeting Wednesday, September 3rd from 4 – 5:30 pm at the City Council Conference Room, at the Council Chambers, 222 E. Kirkland Street. This meeting will be to discuss and/or take action on several topics, including issue(s) presented by a Mr. Mike Gilly, future meeting dates, the by-laws of the tree board, public notices of tree board meetings, public planting near St. Scholastica property, and resolutions of tree board dated August 2014. This meeting is open to the public and welcomes contributions from the public. For more information, please contact the Covington Tree Board Chairman Keith Villere at keith@villere.net or Board Secretary Annie Spell at anniespell@bellsouth.net.

 

Local Events Local News

City Council To Address SSA Expansion Plan At Meeting

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The Covington City Council will decide on the “hot topic” St. Scholastica Academy expansion plan on May 20th. The plan, which was approved by the Historic District Committee on April 8th, was appealed by local area residents opposed to the expansion. The proposition has reached such momentum that it has outgrown the City Council Chambers, forcing this May 20th Council meeting to be moved to the School Board building on Jefferson Avenue, across from the City Hall. All those interested in this issue, whether for or against, are encouraged to attend this meeting, from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Learn more about the opposition at welovehistoriccovington.com, and more about SSA’s proposition at www.ssacad.com.

Annie Spell has produced four videos in opposition to the SSA expansion plans.  These well composed videos can be viewed on the We Love Historic Covington website.

Current Expansion Plans

Current Expansion Plans

Local Events Non Profit Spotlight

“Icons: Personal Visions” – Byzantium to the American South At St. Tammany Art Association

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"Forest" by Jacqueline Bishop, "Icons: Personal Visions" Exhibit at St. Tammany Art Association, on loan from Arthur Roger Gallery

“Forest” by Jacqueline Bishop, “Icons: Personal Visions” Exhibit at St. Tammany Art Association, on loan from Arthur Roger Gallery

Now through January 25, 2014, art lovers can see an exciting show at the St. Tammany Art Association called Icons: Personal Visions. The show features ten Southeastern Louisiana artists who take a broader, secular approach to traditional icon imagery and processes, literally expressed by some and ambiguously approached by others.

On January 11 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., the public is invited to delve more deeply into this show with an exploration of the topic Byzantium to the American South and the migration of icons and iconography from the religious to the secular in contemporary art.

The program begins with an overview of the history of the icon presented by Francie Rich, MFA, artist/educator, who currently teaches art history and appreciation at St. Scholastica Academy and St. Joseph Abbey Seminary College. Rich and husband, Louisiana artist/educator John Hodge, MFA, conduct international tours focusing on visual arts.

Then, at 4:00 p.m., New Orleans Museum of Art Curator of Contemporary Art, Miranda Lash, leads an informal discussion with artists in the exhibition on their art and ideas relating to “icons” in contemporary art making. The afternoon conversations will be followed at 6:00 p.m. by an opening reception—new selections for the new year—in the Members Gallery, with works on display January 11 – February 22, 2014.

Icons: Personal Visions features the work of Jacqueline Bishop, Douglas Bourgeois, Alan Gerson, Jessica Goldfinch, Christopher Guarisco, John Hodge, Thomas Mann, Francie Rich, Leslie Staub and Monica Zeringue. The show is presented by the St. Tammany Art Association and sponsored by Walter Mader and Catherine Deano, former STAA president, longtime supporter and co-founder of the Painting with a Twist family of studios.

All events are free and open the public and take place at the STAA Art House, 320 N. Columbia Street, Covington. For more information, contact STAA at info@sttammanyartassociation.org or call (985)892-8650. Visit STAA’s website at www.sttammanyartassociation.org to learn more about upcoming shows, art classes, and the organization’s “Masqued Ball,” to be held during the February 22 Krewe of Olympia parade in Covington.