P.O.Box 778
331 E. Carriere St.
Washington, LA 70589

Tel: 1-337-826-3003
Cell: 1-337-280-9443






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Washington is the third oldest settlement in Louisiana; by the time the Wardens of the Church began selling "arpent lots" (a French unit of town property measuring just under an acre) in 1822, the site of the town had been occupied for over a century.

But Washington's glory days didn't really begin until 1832, when the first steamboat made its way from New Orleans, steaming up the final leg of its journey on Bayou Courtableau. For 70 years thereafter Washington was the western-most steamboat port on the southern frontier with direct river access to the port of New Orleans. Save for the Civil War years, steamboats plied the waters of the Courtableau in a brisk commercial trade, exchanging manufactured goods and spices from New Orleans and beyond for the sugar cane, cotton and other raw materials produced on Louisiana's farms and plantations.

In 1883 the railroad came to Washington, signaling the inevitable decline of steamboats as a viable commercial transport industry. In May of 1900 the last steamboat left Washington, and since that time other areas in the state have surpassed the little community on Bayou Courtableau as major commercial centers.

But Washington has never lost the character of its rich heritage. Washington is to Louisiana what Williamsburg is to Virginia. Unlike Williamsburg, however -- many of whose structures are reconstructed replicas -- the historic homes and businesses of Washington are graceful, original buildings from Louisiana's nineteenth century past. These structures, surrounded and shaded by ancient live oak trees, represent aspects of industry and commerce which remind the visitor of a golden age gone by.

Washington contains many examples of various Louisiana house types, ranging from board-and-batten cottages to towering plantation houses with full galleries. The brick commercial buildings on Main Street are also of major interest, since a number of them still exhibit their metal ornamental store fronts. And throughout the town visitors will enjoy Washington's wonderful old live oaks, many of which are recorded on the register of the Louisiana Live Oak Society. Beneath the oaks are many landscaped gardens which display the plants and flowers which were popular 150 years ago: camellias, azaleas, hydrangeas, lilies and roses, among many others.

The historic significance of Washington is recorded in the Register of National Historic Places, which lists 80% of the town. In recent years many of the historically significant structures have undergone restoration. The Washington Museum offers information on these and other area attractions, as well as fascinating displays and artifacts from Washington's past.

Clearly, visitors in search of a "taste of the past" will not be disappointed with a trip to Washington, Louisiana. Easily accessible from Interstate 49, Washington offers a fascinating doorway into the 19th century.

When in Washington, don't miss...

  • The Steamboat Warehouse - Known throughout Louisiana for the ambience of its original steamboat warehouse structure, combined with superb cajun cuisine.

  • Washington Bed & Breakfasts - Southern hospitality at its best at The Crawford House (337-826-3003), Camelia Cove (337-826-7362), The Country House (337-826-3052), La Chaumiere (337-826-3967), or La Maison de Gabrielle (623-4711 or 942-6525).

  • O'Connor's Antique School Mall - Over 100 antique dealers have taken the old Washington High School hostage! Shop in air conditioned comfort in the school, gym and affiliated historic buildings. Open every Friday - Sunday, 9:00 - 5:00.

  • Magnolia Ridge Plantation - 50 acres of gorgeous gardens, ponds, and 4 miles of jogging trails, free and open to the public most days.

  • The Washington Museum - Steamboat Era artifacts and photos, as well as local tour information and maps. Open 7 days a week (337-826-3627).

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Copyright © 1998 Robert Tinney