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Shady Oaks

In 1848 on his plantation, then at the edge of Vermilionville, Charles Homer Mouton built an impressive plantation house for his bride, Celimine Dupre. Charles Homer Mouton was the son of Charles Mouton and hte grandson of Jean Mouton, founder of Vermilionville. Celimine Dupe was the daughter of Lastie Dupre and the granddaughter of Governor Jacques Dupre, reputed to have been the richest stock raiser in St. Landry Parish.

The impressive plantation house in its setting of century old live oak trees was given the name of “Shady Oaks”. The house was to become a wedding gift for at least one more bride and in 1940 a garden wedding that is still remembered for its beauty and elaborateness was held on the grounds of the historic house. Three of the children of the present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Bowen, had weddings on the grounds of the historic house. A fourth child of the Bowens had also planned to be married on the grounds, but an impending hurricane caused a change in plans.

Recognizing the historic significance of the property, the National Register no June 8, 1960, under the provisions of the National Historic Act of 1966, placed Shady Oaks on the National Register. Today in the waning years of the 20th century, the house at 3 38 Sterling, stands majestically and impassively amidst the bustle fo a city bursting at its seams, treasuring its memories and remembering its dramatic brushes with history, while serving to anchor us to our rich heritage. Charles Homer Mouton employed Messrs. Paxton and Noillon as the architects to design and build his Planation house. At the time the house was built Moutons’ plantation consisted of some 365 arpents. Immediately after the Moutons acquired the tract of land, a huge grove of trees of every variety grown in the state was planted on the tract. This accounts for the beautiful trees now lining Sterling Street in the vicinity of the house.

Mouton’s architects designed “Shady Oaks” with a basic plan for the ante-bellum house. It is a 44 by 44-foot house with an addition at the back. The brick kitchen originally was separate from the house with a brick walk leading to it from the first floor back gallery of the house. Balance and restraint is seen in the archite’ts’ design. The three storied house is of brick on the first floor and cypress on the second and attic floors. Insulation between the interior and exterior walls is of “bousillage entre porteaux” (mud and moss between posts). In order to avoid breaking the expanse of the exterior walls with three storied high chimneys, they were placed within the house. The front of the house is symmetrical. The fenestration on either side is identical, although there is a slight varioation in the size of the windows, which is typical of handmade work. The overhang of the high pitvhed roof serves as the roof of the second story gallery and also for the roof of the back second story gallery. There are two dormer windows at the front of the house and one at the rear. Massive wooden Doric columns support the first and second floor front galleries. At the back, the wall enclosing the galleries now serves as support. The columns and the beaded exposed beams used throughout the first floor are hand made. The house is a blend of the French and English styles of architecture. The main entrance into the house is through the ground level front door, which is at the center of the house. Since there is no hall on the first floor, entry is immediately into the living room Left of it is the music room. Back of this room is the play room. Back of the living room is the dining room. It opens into the solarium, which was made by enclosing the first floor back gallery with glass.

The steep stairway at the front of the house is on the left wall of the living room. It is angled at the bottom to give more wet. The back stairway on the left wall of the solarium was added in the more recent times. The first floor extension at the back of the house, provides a bathroom, storage room and kitchen. The original kitchen, which was separate from the house, was demolished and rebuilt as a dairy. And then was remodeled to serve as a garage.

The central hall in second in attic floors is characteristic of English architecture. On the second floor, there are four bedrooms, Aden, two bathrooms, a storage area, and a central hall, which opens onto the second story gallery at the front of the house. Entry onto the gallery is through the original French doors with the transition over the doors and the side, glass panels or lunettes. The attic floor is divided into two bedrooms, a bath, storage area, two closets at the front and the central hall. Cotton and sugarcane, were the crops raised on the plantation. An account of plantation life at the time the Mouton‘s on the property was reported in a newspaper interview with Nurse. John Charles Buchanan, the former, Josephine, Eugene, Mouton, daughter, of Charles, Homer Mouton. She said in the interview, “in those days everything was done by hand by slaves. They beat the brakes and cut the cypress for the house. The trees were rained and left to season; Todd water, Cypress, they were. The great Cypress planks, for the floors were split in smooth by hand and the beams, running the length of the house, or cut from individual trees. “

Yes, Buchanan also told of the slave balls held on the plantation grounds every Saturday night. A great bonfire was lit before the slave quarters, and the slaves danced until midnight to the music of a guitar or two into the rhythm of a tremendous drum made by stretching cowhide over the top of a hollow tree stone. “You could hear their music for miles in the night, and they danced the Bamboula, a dance that became very famous after the war, “Miss Buchanan said.

The drum was played by an old slave named “Bazile”, who dressed for the occasion, and a black suit with us, Diffley storage white collar and cuffs. He was known far and wide for school on the drum, and there was often a large crowd of spectators on handle, listen to the music and watch the dancing. The house was scarcely completed, when soldiers were marching past on their way to the Mexican war. The house became a center of activity. Mouton and his family enjoyed “Shady Oaks” for about a decade, when it became necessary for the family to move to Opelousas.

Mouton, a Promenade attorney, was also the nephew of Governor Mouton, and a first cousin of general, Alfred Mouton, the confederate hero of the battle of Mansfield in the Civil War.

Charles homer Mouton was appointed by the governor Mouton as district attorney of the parishes of Lafayette, Saint. Landry and Calcasieu. It became necessary for the family removed Opelousas, for Mouton to T charge of his father-in-law’s legal affairs. With the decision to move to Opelousas, they’re awesome came the decision to sell “Shady oaks“.

Andre, Valerien Martin purchased the property. It was described, then is comprising 270 44/100 arpents with buildings and improvements. Included. Also, in the purchase were the two tracks of Woodland, one tracked being the west bank of Bayou vermilion, and the other at the fork of Bayou Tortue and Bayou Vermillion. The sale was made on July 6, 1858 and the purchase price was $13,500. The sale did not include the growing crop and the fencing. Boundaries of the property were given as: east, by land of the purchaser; west, by land of widow Ursin Patin, lighter, purchased by Dr.. Kennedy; north, by land of John A. Rigues; and south, by land belonging to the widow and heirs of Charles Mouton. Martin’s on plantation, magnolia plantation, bordered on the “Shadyoaks quotes plantation. For the magnolia plantation is now occupied by the Carmelite Monastry and the De La Salle Normal property. Records indicate that Martin gave “Shadyoaks quotes to his daughter, Clarisse , on September 3, 1866.

As the war between the states continued in general Nathanael banks launched a drive through this area in the spring of 1863, “Shady Oaks “became a refuge for the women of the family, when their homes were in the path of the Yankees. Eventually “Shady Oaks “also came in the line of fire when Yankees camped on the grounds of “Shady Oaks “ and fall in a skirmish against confederate pickets station across the field.

In an interview in 1936 Clarisse, then, 96 years old, said, “my husband was away from home just at this time, and I had the servant staying in the house with my four children and myself, fo for we were practically surrounded by soldiers. when I heard the shot lodge in the front door, I ran to get a broom, jerked up a sheet, tore it in pieces, and Todd, a strip of it to the broom. And that way, I fashioned a of flag of truce. The union leader came for the offered to take me safely to my father’s home. When we arrive, my father in the union commander discovered that they had met in the north, and had known each other for years. “ It is also reported that the house was not burned and destroyed, and so many others in this area were, because the masonic flag was raised over it. Clarisse’s Father’s, Andre Valerien Martin com was one of the founders of the masonic order in Lafayette.

Oral tradition also has it that Yankees fired a shot at one of the ladies taking refuge in the house because she persisted in waving the confederate flag from the second-story front gallery.

Clarisse was left a widow, when her husband died in the yellow fever epidemic in Vermilionville in 1867. Clarisse remarried, this time to William Campbell, a native of Pittsburgh, PA., Who came to Lafayette as a boy with his parents. His father, John Campbell, was a surveyor in school teacher. He served for years as a deputy government surveyor of southwest, Louisiana.

Clarisse, who had always preferred magnolia plantation to “Shady Oaks “moved with her her husband to magnolia plantation when she inherited it following her father’s death. It was then decided to sell “Shady Oaks. “

Dr. Franklin Sterling Mudd and his wife purchased the property. Dr. Mudd was said to have been related to the man who administered medical aid to President Lincolns alleged assassin. The Mudds so of parts of the plantation over the years with Jai. See. Nickerson and Leo Judice developing it as the subdivisions of Mudd in Sterling Grove. They, however, kept the house in the land immediately surrounding it. Streets in those subdivisions carry the names of members of the Mudd family. On August 17, 1907, heirs of Dr. Mudd sold the house and grounds to Louis Domengeaux for $5000. The property was described at that time is fronting on Sterling for a width of 185 feet by depth of 465 feet. On October 16, 1912, Domengeaux sold the property to Annette Burguieres, widow of Pierre Caillouet, for $7500. She intern sold it on February 14, 1912, TJ. Cyrille Dupont for $8000. Dupont was married to Alice Burguieres. Dupont sold the property on February 14th 1913, to the Home building and loan. Lesley E. White, who was the superintendent of grounds at the University of Southwestern Louisiana bought the property on November 10, 1925 for $6500. During his ownership of the property, there was as many as 95 camellia bushes planted on the property. He sold “Shady Oaks” to the Home building and loan on July 5, 1926, four $7000.

J. Maxim Roy, who was the N city mayor purchased the property from the Lafayette building and loan association for $9000 on May 14, 1937. During his occupancy, many renovations were made to the house but the basic plan was not altered. It was a he who added the back stairs, renovated the bathrooms, built the back patio, glassed in the back gallery, made the kitchen into the breakfast room and added a buffet, pantry and huge kitchen. The fireplace in the kitchen, which was used to cook in at one time, was boarded up by Roy, and is still behind the wall. The Roy’s furnish the house with antiques of the period of the house.

It was Roy’s daughter, Lucille, who was wed to Sterret B. Procter in 1940 in a garden wedding under the oak trees of the historic house. It is the wedding still remembered for its lovely setting, outdoor altar, and all banked with white flowers, a champagne fountain, in addition to several other refreshment areas, etc. Lucille now Miss Robert Copeland, remembers the house and grounds as a wonderful place in which to have grown up.

Roy sold the property to the Lafayette building association. They intern sold it to Dr. George Nugier Desormeaux on January 15, 1945. During Dr. Desormeaux’s ownership of the property, quite a bit of renovations took place. Steps were taken to preserve the house from further deterioration due to dampness. A “damp sheet quotes was constructed around the house; fireplaces were renovated, concrete flooring was poured for the first floor and carpet installed. Mrs. Desormeaux spend considerable time in landscaping of the grounds. Negative Louisiana irises were planted in at one time there was many is 30 different colors of ours is on the ground. The ground we’re also heavily fertilized for the sake of the trees.

Kenneth Boeing purchased the property on June 26, 1964, from the Desormeaux Estate. With that purchase, the property came full cycle back to Mouton. Miss Bowen, the former Ruth Butcher, is a descendent of Jean Mouton.

The bones with her 13 children found a house ideal for such a large family. During their ownership of “Shady Oaks,” day, too, have made renovations, adding central heating and cooling to the house. Carroll is taking so that the air conditioning would not disturb the plan or appearance of the house. The central cooling plus the ceiling fans make for a comfortably cool house.

The house has a total of six bedrooms, and 3 1/2 bathrooms, as a result of the interior, renovations of the house. The basic plan, however, has remained intact.