With a distinct blend of culture, music, and food, it's no wonder The Wall Street Journal named our city "The Happiest City in America." Our apartments in Lafayette, LA, are at the heart of Louisiana's Cajun & Creole Country. We offer up a little history of our area below.
When Europeans first arrived in Lafayette, Louisiana, the area was inhabited by the Attakapas Native Americans. French colonists settled a trading post along the Vermillion River around the mid-eighteenth century, enticing numerous Canadian "Seven Years' War" refugees called Acadians to settle.
Acadians intermarried with other settlers, establishing the Cajun culture, but maintained their French language and devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. Around 1820, the Attakapas Parish population numbered over 12,000 people.
One of the affluent families in the area was that of Jean Mouton. Jean Mouton's father, Salvador, came to St. James parish as an exiled Acadian.
In the 1760s, young Jean Mouton arrived in Attakapas County and settled on land north of Pinhook Bridge on the Vermillion River. Frequent flooding from the waterways provided productive agricultural land. Jean Mouton donated land to the Catholic Church to construct a modest Catholic chapel. He chose land far back from the fertile river bottoms, which was much less agriculturally productive. The current site of Saint John Cathedral is 2.5 miles north of the Pinhook Bridge.
Establishing a church in the area was a sign of prosperity and confidence in its future success. The church also served as the social center of this expanding rural community and was where matters of public interest and government notices were displayed; since it was traditionally where most inhabitants frequented. The area was selected by the state for the Lafayette Parish seat in 1824 and was named Vermilionville; for its proximity to the Vermillion River. The Louisiana Legislature approved Vermilionville's incorporation in 1836.
By 1835, the town began to outgrow the courthouse, also donated by Jean Mouton, so the Police Jury contracted the construction of a new courthouse to replace the current small wooden building. The new courthouse, a one-story brick structure with slate floors, was built for $6000. By 1836, the State Legislature established corporate town limits of Vermilionville and nominated and a town council of 5 members.
In the 1840s, the town was large enough to warrant a Union Bank of Louisiana branch office, established on Vermilion and Saint John streets. During this time, a group of concerned citizens founded the Vermilionville Academy, the school operated from the 1940s until 1872. In 1872, the school was sold, and profits were used to fund free public schools in Vermilion parish.
Vermilionville was renamed for General Lafayette in 1884. Lafayette was a French aristocrat that significantly aided the Continental Army through the American Revolutionary War. The parish economy continued its agricultural base well into the 20th century. Following the Civil War, labor was conducted by freedmen working as sharecroppers. Following the mechanization of agriculture in the 1930s, the need of manual farm workers was reduced. Oil was discovered in the parish in 1940s, propelling the natural gas and petroleum industry to dominate the economy.
If you are considering a move to this culturally rich area, consider visiting our Lafayette Gardens apartments in Lafayette Louisiana. Located in the River Ranch area of Lafayette, our pet-friendly apartment community is close to everything but far from ordinary.
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