Just across the lake from New Orleans, Mandeville, Louisiana is a small city in the state’s St. Tammany Parish. With such close proximity to JazzLand, it’s not uncommon for this area and cities like it to be overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of the Big Easy. But, rest assured, Mandeville and its surrounding areas have rich history and amazing Black heritage connected to it.
Check out some of these fascinating and intriguing sites on your next trip to the 504, the 985 or the cities and towns nearby!
Black Antiquity in a Louisiana Small Town
Despite its size, Mandeville and St. Tammany Parish are both booming with Black history and historic sites for visitors to explore. Located on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Mandeville is a part of the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner Metropolitan Area. The city was incorporated in 1840 and has longsense been a gathering spot for patrons of its many pavilions and dance halls. It was actually the first place that what was known as “new Jazz” was heard outside of New Orleans.
The Dew Drop Jazz and Social Hall
Founded in 1895, this jazz venue hosted some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. Led by Olivia Eunio, the Dew Drop Social and Benevolent Association was created to care for the needs of African Americans in the town and provided charity to the homeless, sick and families that needed funds for funeral arrangements and more. The hall is considered the oldest, virtually unaltered jazz dance hall. Performers that frequented the Dew Drop included Buddy Mandalay, Sam Morgan, Andy Anderson and even the great Louis Armstrong that is said to have visited the hall during different stages of his international stardom.
Newell Methodist Church
This historic edifice was chartered in 1869. It has undergone several remodelings throughout its history, yet it has withstood the test of time. Located in Lamarque Street, much of the church’s history has been lost but the building itself is a staunch reminder of the faith of its congregants and deep history in the area.
Holy Family Hall
Barged from a monastery in Gessen, Louisiana, a group of African American nuns led by Mother Henriette Delille from New Orleans started a schoolhouse as well as an official convent. Composed of free women of color, the order offered a home for orphans as well as a nursing home.
Mother DeLille was a mixed-race Creole woman and was known to be outspoken. Her opposition to Louisiana’s plaçage system where men of European descent were allowed to have mixed-race or Creole as mistresses or wives without religious sanction while also having wives by law made her a renegade and activist of her era.
The location is now home to the Knights of Columbus, but originally, The Holy Family School for Negroes was located here from 1897 until 1959.
Mandeville is a Great Community with Deep Roots
Although many historic homes and sites were destroyed in the area due to Hurricane Katrina, the spirit of this parish is thriving. There are many Black heritage travel locations in this area that are a great alternative or addition to your travels in Cajun Country!6