St. Landry

Feb 22, 2013 11:23 AM by MELISSA CANONE

Opelousas City Corridor Entrance Sees Lighting Enhancement Project

The city's east entrance will shine a little brighter with the installation of 14 street lights along the historic U.S. Hwy. 190 corridor. The lights, which are a continuation of the Myrtle Grove/Le Vieux Village enhancement project, will not only assist in illuminating the area around the historic Myrtle Grove Cemetery, but will also serve as street decor and beautification for the east entrance to the city.

Mayor Donald Cravins said the new lights would provide better lighting along Landry Street, and will benefit residents and visitors alike. More lights would also mean enhanced safety for village activities and cemetery visitors. "This is just one more step in our continued efforts to beautify the city, promote civic pride and promote Opelousas as a tourist destination," the Mayor said.

The poles are 14 feet in height and feature a two foot historic style acorn fixture that was popular in Opelousas in the 1940s. The project is a partnership between CLECO and the City of Opelousas. The poles come at no cost to the city.

In 2010, the east entrance underwent a beautification project with the installation of a brick façade for MyrtleGroveCemetery, a new RV and over-flow parking lot for visitors, and lighting additions to the Vine Street side of Le Vieux Village. A year before, in 2009, the Louisiana Orphan Train Museum was added to the village. Funding for those projects were made possible through an Atchafalaya Basin Grant and a state Department of Transportation and Development Enhancement Grant.

The cemetery is owned by the city of Opelousas and was once known as the "Protestant Cemetery." In April 1837, the board of Opelousas named a two-man committee to locate four arpents of land for a public-burying ground.

Meanwhile, the city will unveil the new Opelousas Tourist Center/Jim Bowie Museum this spring when offices will move from the current location in the village into the restored Jarrell House. The expansion of Teche Federal Bank on Landry Street
in Opelousas led to the relocation of the Jarrell House to Le Vieux Village. The history of the house dates back to 1898 where it was the property of Dr. Vincent Boagni, a noted Opelousas physician and cattle farmer. The home, which depicts a Victorian Queen Anne Cottage style of architecture, was once the childhood home of Opelousas native, Bishop Michael Jarrell of the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette. Teche Federal Bank donated the home and funded costs for the relocation. A ribbon cutting and open house is scheduled for Thursday, May 30, 2013.

In 1987, the Opelousas Tourism and Activities Committee was formed under the mayor and city council with local citizens serving as its members. One of the first sub-committees formed from this group was to look into developing the area around the OpelousasTouristCenter. The area was named "Le Vieux Village de Poste des Opelousas." This was because "the old People" of the Opelousas area referred to the city as Le Vieux Village (the old village.)

In 1988, Le Vieux Village de Poste des Opelousas was born. Some of its buildings include a 1911 two-room schoolhouse, a 19th century general store, and the Venus House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Venus House also received recent recognition when it was added to the state's African American Heritage Trail. The structure is believed to be one of the oldest Creole homes west of the Mississippi River.

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