Posts tagged ‘north lake charles’

North Lake Charles history mix of industry, color

A Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Lake Charles from 1909 outlines “Goosport Moeling’s” subdivision. (courtesy of SWLA Genealogical Society)

North Lake Charles is now made up of a set of relatively quiet neighborhoods. But in earlier days, it served as one of the most progressive areas, both ethnically and in commerce, in the state. Here is the history of a few of the communities.

The neighborhood of Goosport in north Lake Charles — now predominately black — has a long history as viewed through American Press archives.

The area is named after Capt. Daniel J. Goos, who came to Lake Charles in 1855 from Fohr Island in Germany after stops in New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss.

The area is between Railroad Avenue on the south, Fitzenreiter Road on the north, U.S. 171 on the east and the Calcasieu River on the west.

Goosport was a racially mixed area up until the 1950s. Its residents were mostly African Americans and Italians Americans, according to American Press archives.

Between 1900 and 1930, many immigrants from western Sicily came to Lake Charles and had small farms or were seasonal agriculture workers, according to McNeese State University’s Mediterranean Oral History Project.

A 1909 insurance map lists the area as the “Goosport Moeling subdivision,” named after Daniel Goos and his wife, the former Katherina Moeling, whom he married in New Orleans.

Throughout segregation, schools and other public places were subject to laws that separated the races, but Goosport remained a mixed neighborhood.

Frank Pryce, who owned a pharmacy in the area, was quoted saying “everyone got along like one big family,” in a 2003 news article.

There is no documentation of the area being officially named Goosport, but the term is used throughout the American Press archives as far back as the 1920s.

Daniel Johannes Goos made his name in Lake Charles in shipping and lumber. When he came to Lake Charles in 1855, he set up two sawmills to supplement a lumber shipping business he had started in Biloxi. He also built a shipyard, which he operated until 1884.


The origin of the name could not be traced to a single person, but American Press and McNeese State University archives note that the neighborhood was named after a group of 11 Fisher families who came to Lake Charles.

Among the prominent Fishers found in American Press archives is C.W. Fisher, who came to Lake Charles in 1883 from Wichita, Kan.

He was among the businessmen who came down from the Midwest and over from Georgia and Mississippi who made Southwest Louisiana a lumber empire during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

This was noted as a major factor in population growth during that time in the 1939 thesis of Ralph C. Reynaud — Reynaud Middle School’s namesake — on “Negro Schools in Calcasieu Parish, La.”

Another prominent Fisher, Willie, was a doctor with a large practice in Lake Charles in the early 1900s. He served as Calcasieu Parish coroner for 28 years, according to community historian Maude Reid’s book, “Early Calcasieu Doctors.”

The boundaries of Fisherville are Shattuck Street on the west, Broad Street on the south, U.S. 171 on the east and Railroad Avenue on the north.

It followed Goosport with diverse demographics consisting of African Americans and immigrants from Sicily, Lebanon and Syria, according to an Oct. 1, 1985, article in Today’s World magazine.
Rice Mill

The term served as a nickname for the area along the Calcasieu River near North Kirkman Street where the Lake Charles Rice Milling company once stood. Many residents of Goosport and Fisherville worked at the mill.

The first mill was built in 1892 on 40 acres along the river. It was the largest rice mill in the country, according to American Press archives.

The location between the Calcasieu River and Southern Pacific Railroad, which connected with other railroad companies, provided quick transportation of goods to most parts of the country.

Merchant milling — also known as the cash system — also boosted their production. Previously, the only rice mills were in and around New Orleans. There, farmers would have to pay to have their rice milled and would then sell it to “any chance buyer.”

With the cash system, Lake Charles Milling Company purchased the rice directly from the farmers and sold the finished product in bulk.

“In those days, the rice that came out of the mill set the price for that commodity in the U.S.,” said Adley Cormier, who is with the Calcasieu Preservation Society. Cormier said he found the information in the 1913 Department of Agriculture yearbook.

After a 1924 fire razed the property, the mill was rebuilt to twice it’s original size, making it the largest rice mill in the world. By the time it was modernized and completed in 1926, the city had dredged the ship channel, making shipments to anywhere in the world much easier.

February 21, 2011 at 2:01 am

Fix it first, then they will come

Residents say address present needs before selling north LC

North Lake Charles resident Doris Minard had a straightforward message for the redevelopment authority Monday: “Before you invite company to your house, you want to clean up first,” she said.

“The talk about bringing businesses to the area is a good thing, but we have a lot of areas that need to be cleaned up.”

Minard and other residents talked about drainage problems, open ditches and areas near schools that lack sidewalks. She said she has to call almost every month about overgrown vacant lots near her home on Mayo Street.

Theresa Baird agreed and expressed her hope that development extends beyond the areas along Interstate 10. Her biggest concern on cleanup was the number of homes that need to be repaired or demolished.

Authority member Rick Richard agreed with the residents, saying most things don’t get done unless a lot of residents complain.

“It’s a goofy system to me that it’s on the citizen’s back to make the call,” Richard said. “My theory is there should be someone riding around looking for these things.”

Richard said the property issues in north Lake Charles stem mainly from people who own property but don’t live in the area.

“People who own property and live in Lake Charles take care of their property,” he said.
The redevelopment auth–ority members said they would take the residents’ concerns to City Council members.

In their third meeting, board members also continued housekeeping duties, such as setting up a standardized system to add residents’ concerns to the agenda and making meeting minutes available.

Chairman Willie King said the board will meet with a consulting group July 1, along with George Swift with The Chamber/Southwest Louisiana.

The group will show development plans from other cities it has worked with.

Richard said he plans to bring a study done by the Army Corps of Engineers that outlines light manufacturing, along with residential and commercial development, in north Lake Charles.


June 29, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Wanted: Public input

Turnout disappointing for new LC authority meeting

Members of the Lake Charles North Redevelopment Authority want the public’s input.

Speaking at the authority’s second meeting, Kathleen Bellow made a plea for more attendance, saying any change would have to involve the residents of north Lake Charles.

The second meeting saw a much smaller turnout than the first, which attracted an audience of about 30 people.

“We know that the people have to be involved, which is why this is a public forum and why we need the ideas of the community,” said Bellow, a board member and principal of Sacred Heart School.

“Unless people buy into helping themselves and the process is open to all the stakeholders, it won’t be real community development.”

Board member Rick Richard said he had been in contact with George Swift of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance for suggestions on how to get businesses to build in north Lake Charles.

“The Corps of Engineers’ recent study shows that north Lake Charles is really the place to build,” Richard said.

He said a lot of the work will be education and “just showing people that this is the place to be.”

A recent study laid out areas for building a warehouse district, a marina with condos and a walking path. Most of the development would be along Fitzenreiter Road.

Assistant City Administrator Adrian Wallace said the board’s legal council, Terry Manuel, was drafting the cooperative endeavor agreement with the city of Lake Charles.

Residents can send queries to the board at 326 Pujo St., 9th Floor, Attn: Lake Charles North Redevelopment Board, Lake Charles, LA 70601.

The board’s next meeting will be Monday, June 28.


May 25, 2010 at 6:38 pm