If there is one thing that sets Lake Charles, LA apart from other places in the state, it's the architecture of the historic homes in the city. Settled in 1840 by the Germans, Lake Charles had a diverse community from the very beginning. The French, Spanish, Creole, and Cajuns migrated to the town for work due to its thriving lumber industry.

These 18th and 19th-century carpenters came from every walk of life, and the architecture of the homes reflects their culture, traditions, and individuality. Nearly all the earliest homes and buildings were built out of wood with no plans and that is why they are so unique. This is also why the fire of 1910 destroyed more than 100 houses, municipal buildings, restaurants, and businesses.


The centuries-old houses that line the 20 to 40 blocks downtown and along Lakeshore Drive are in fact unique in every way. Many of the homes in the Charpentier Historic District and Margaret Place Historic District are on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are too many to feature in this post, but below are several videos that offer wonderful images and facts about Lake Charles. Though we lost a huge portion of the original building in the city. We are fortunate to have so many homes, municipal buildings, schools, and businesses, that are still standing today.

1911 Historic City Hall - 1001 Ryan Street - Today it is the Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center showcasing public art and a history gallery, which featured priceless art by Picasso, Norman Rockwell, and others. It also houses traveling exhibits from around the world. It was the replacement after the original city hall burned down with 90% of the city in 1910.

City Hall was in operation from 1911 until 1978. After that, it functioned as the City Court until 1999. A Spanish Baroque style, the building features ornate red and white bricks Renaissance arched windows, a red tile roof, an Italian bell tower, and a clock. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Barbe-Sallier Home - 905 Shell Beach Drive - This home was built in the 1840s and is arguably one of the oldest homes in Lake Charles. The impressive yellow antebellum home was built around the city's namesake, Charles and Catherine Sallier's original log cabin, which was built in 1802. The Sallier cabin's boussilage constructed walls (building material made of tempered earth and Spanish moss) help gauge the age of the home. When the home was renovated 75 years ago, wooden nails were discovered within the walls.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral935 Bilbo Street - The church started off as a mission chapel and was built before Parish was organized in 1858. Ten years later when the Immaculate Conception Parish was established in 1869, it got its first priest. Ten years after that in 1879 the church was heavily damaged and the parish built a new one. In 1980 it became a cathedral. The church, rectory, and garage are listed National Register of Historic Places.

Central School -It was Built in 1912 and was started off as an elementary school. It was later used to house 37th Division soldiers during WWII. Following the war, the school was back in operation until 1976 when began to house school board administrative offices. The school was restored in the mid-90s and became the Central School Arts and Humanities Center.

Today the Arts Council and Literacy Council have added attractions like the Mardi Gras Museum, and the Art Associates Gallery to offer something for residents and visitors to explore. There are a dozen visual artists and music teachers here that offer public classes.

Lake Charles has a rich history and amazing architecture featuring mixed styles with turrets, gingerbread-accented porches and so much more. Antebellum and Greek Revival estates, Victorian-raised cottages with lavish gardens 100-year-old oak trees, and sweeping lawns, complete with Spanish moss.

Historic Calcasieu Parish is a great site to get details about the city, its founding fathers, and more info about SWLA as a whole. Take a few tours whether you are from here or not! You are guaranteed to learn something you never knew or see something you saw.  Explore the city like it's your first time and fall in love with its unique character all over again!

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Gallery Credit: Stacker

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