The French were the first European settlers of Lake Charles in the 1760s. In the 1800s, a lumber boom in the area attracted a migration of settlers who were heavily influenced from the Victorian style of architecture popular at that time. Because there were no true architects in the area until the early 20th century, each house constructed in earlier decades reflects the unique characteristics of carpenter architects who freely designed as they built.
These artisans creatively combined different elements and style details from pattern books. The Architectural Historian for Louisiana, Jonathan Fricker, dubbed this as “Lake Charles Style Architecture.” About 40 blocks in downtown Lake Charles contain buildings with this architectural style, and the area is now designated as the Charpentier Historic District. Charpentier is French for “carpenter.” Since 1990, this district has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Visitors find the Charpentier Historic District to be a lively area, with tourists eagerly studying the stunning architecture and frequenting the local restaurants and unique shops. Also located in this area are the Central School Arts and Humanities Center, with the Mardi Gras Museum, art galleries, and a theatre for the performing arts. Walking and driving tours of the Charpentier Historic District may be of interest to visitors. Although homes in this district are privately owned, some homes offer private tours. For more information about Charpentier Historic District tours, visit the website of the Lake Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau: http://www.visitlakecharles.org/
About the author: A resident of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Steve Blount owns PRC™ Professional Retirement Consultants, LLC, which offers insurance planning and financial advisory services. Active in the Lake Charles community, Mr. Blount volunteers with the Lions Club, Ducks Unlimited, the Moss Bluff Recreation Basketball League, and other civic groups.