History, heritage in Lake Charles
The Charpentier district puts historic architecture on display, along with museums and galleries; other cultural centers are nearby.
Public buildings with domes, arched windows and towers stood shoulder to shoulder along the streets. Even smaller working men’s homes were iced with wood-crafted frills and embellishments. A mix of grand houses, public buildings and smaller working-class homes, the Charpentier (French for “carpenter”) District stands in homage to the carpenter architects who freely designed as they built, creating a unique Lake Charles style.
The district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including 40 blocks of buildings. People can tour the insides of some of these amazing homes during the Palm Sunday Tour of Homes in the spring and each holiday season.
Within the Charpentier Historic District, visitors can find a treasure trove of attractions including the Central School Arts & Humanities Center. Also in Central School are the Black Heritage Gallery and the Children’s Theatre Company, whose stage hosts many community performing groups.
Another major attraction in the Charpentier Historic District is the Imperial Calcasieu Museum, which houses arts groups and the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu. The museum displays the largest collection of Mardi Gras costumes in a single location in the world. On the grounds of the museum is a massive and majestic 300-year-old oak, called the Sallier Oak.
Other museums in the area include the Brimstone Museum & Henning Cultural Center in Sulphur. The Cultural Center is a turn-of-the-century home with dual wrap-around porches and showcases rotating exhibits. The DeQuincy Railroad Museum in DeQuincy houses a 1913 steam locomotive, and almost every festival celebrates the railroading history of the town. There is also a hands-on Children’s Museum in Lake Charles with three floors of learning fun.
For more information on the Charpentier Historic District, museums or galleries, contact the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau at 337-436-9588.