Early Louisiana, House History, Uncategorized

A disappearing Shreveport

From death and mayhem, I thought I’d visit some of Shreveport’s lovely old homes. Most of them are gone now, but I enjoy looking at pictures of the grand old ladies that once were found in and near downtown. The landscape changes so quickly.

Houses burn down. They’re torn down. They simply disappear until ghosts get lost trying to revisit home.

zieglerhouse
The Zeigler house

On a bluff overlooking the Red River, the S. J. Zeigler house once stood. How beautiful is it? I can imagine standing on the widow’s walk and taking in the river views.

birdseyeThe Zeiglers apparently bought the house in 1881 from W. P. Ford. Ford had purchased the property from the Leonards. It seems likely that the Leonards built the house.

In 1901, Louie Ogden and her cousin Helen Kendall were driving in a trap with a couple of gentleman when the rear seat collapsed just outside the Zeigler home. Poor Helen was knocked unconscious. Fortunately, she recovered. She and Louie were guests of Mrs. W. C. Vance on Fannin street.

Interestingly, the 1900 census lists the Zeiglers as boarders. They also liked going by initials. They’re listed as S.J. and H.M. with sons Sam and Howell and someone named Vinnie.

In reality, S.J. was Samuel Jacob. He and his wife, Sarah, had five children. Only two lived to maturity.

Their daughter Sadie died age 9 at the Zeigler house in 1891. Another daughter, Susie, died aged two years, one month and 23 days in 1917. The family later made its way back to South Carolina.

If you visit the house site today, you’ll find the Chateau Hotel.

scott
1608 Fairfield Ave. back in the day

If you go to 1608 Fairfield Ave. today, you’ll find a rundown office building. A century ago, you would have found this fabulous mansion. I would have wanted a room in the tower.

John and Toinette Scott lived here. John was listed as a planter in the 1917 Shreveport telephone directory. Census records show them living in that giant house without any live-in servants or children. John’s sister married into the Youree family and lived nearby so they wouldn’t have been too lonely.

The home was demolished in 1947 after becoming a funeral home. An advertisement was placed in the newspaper for anyone interested in beautiful woodwork, mantels, bevel plate, glass doors, stained glass windows, oak, wainscoating or inlaid flooring.

page
The shell hints at the planned grandeur

One of the saddest houses to stand in Shreveport was a shell of a building that was never completed. Walter Page started to build an enormous house on Jefferson-Paige Road. He stopped work on it when his son John died. A storm hit the property in 1917 and the shell later was razed.

The house was known as Page’s Castle. The Shreveport Journal described it as “two stories with a four story octagonal rotunda, surmounted by a dome and observation deck. From the hilltop house spread a sweeping lawn with thousands of rose bushes.”

Page came from a wealthy family that moved from Tennessee to Louisiana and bought tremendous acreage for cotton. Supposedly, in an attempt to lure his son from the drinking and fast cars of Nashville, Page began work on Page’s Castle. He envisioned a resort similar to Delmonico’s with ducks, roses, a fish pond and race horses. A storm heavily damaged the dream project in 1917. Then news of John Page’s death quickly followed, and the dream died entirely.

More likely, the storm created problems with the construction, and the rest of the story is just romantic nonsense. It appears that John Page died long before construction on Page’s Castle even began.

howellhouseThe Howell house stood at 819 Spring St. It was built by John Howell and evolved from mansion to apartment building before a fire destroyed it in the 1930s.

hicksmansion
This picture doesn’t do the Hicks mansion justice.

My personal obsession is the Hicks home that stood at 416 Travis St. This antebellum mansion endured for years as modern structures rose around it.

It was built at the conclusion of the Civil War with logs shipped from St. Louis. The original owner was Daniel Smith, but the deed soon passed to Col. F. M. Hicks. Hicks lived there until moving to Texas for his health. His son Samuel B. Hicks then moved into the home with his bride Mamie.

The home came down in the 1950s to pave the way for a skyscraper.

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