Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Historic Post Offices of Louisiana, Part II:
Thibodaux and Houma

During a trip this spring to Louisiana I came across several historic post office buildings that have since been converted to other uses. Out previous post presented photos of three post office buildings in Plaquemine, Louisiana dating from 1936 to the present. Today we turn to two good-size Bayou towns, Thibodaux and Houma.

Let's rekindle our geographic bearings:

Thibodaux, Louisiana

Thibodaux, population 14-15,000, is the seat of Lafourche Parish and its post office was established in 1840.

The old federal post office building in Thibodaux looks a bit different from most that you've seen before. It was constructed in 1925-6, before the massive New Deal post office construction push—the building is asymmetrical, it has small ventilation windows above the actual windows and its cornerstone is marble. In earlier photos the building is more striking; you'll notice the Spanish tile roof and (presumably) white stucco exterior.

The historic post office building is located at the south side of West 5th Street between St. Louis St. and Green St. However, it no longer serves as such; postal operations were relocated when a new federal building was constructed a bit less than half a mile south along Canal Boulevard, the city's primary north-south thoroughfare. The '20s post office building now serves as an annex facility for the offices of Lafourche County.

Old Thibodaux post office, 2014:

Thibodaux, LA: old post office
Thibodaux, LA: old post office cornerstone

Old (then-new) Thibodaux post office, Jun. 5, 1926:

Thibodaux, LA post office, 1926
Thibodaux, LA post office, 1926 (rear view)

The 'new' federal building along Canal Blvd. between West 9th St. and West 10th St.; the second photo also shows the 1966 Lyndon B. Johnson cornerstone.

Thibodaux, LA post office
Thibodaux, LA post office with cornerstone

Thibodaux also hosts a Contract Postal Unit at Nicholls State University. The operation is housed inside the Donald G. Bollinger Memorial Student Union.

Nicholls State University Contract Postal Unit, Thibodaux, LA

Houma, Louisiana

The county parish seat of Terrebonne Parish in the Bayou received two gorgeous buildings around the city's central square as a result of the New Deal (the south side of Main Street, between Church and Goode): (1) the 1934-5 former post office building and (2) the stately 1937-begun Parish Courthouse.

The old post office building at 7861 Main Street in Houma, LA was constructed in 1934-5 and served until the completion of the Allen J. Ellender Federal Building—a rather standard ugly mid-to-late century building, located a few blocks away, that will disappoint your retinas later in this post.

Here are two photos of the then-recently completed post office building taken May 17, 1935: Houma, LA post office, 1935
Houma, LA post office, 1935 (rear view)

The old post office is privately owned, and for some time served as a nightclub that was appropriately called "The Old Post Office Club." However, when I visited this spring it appeared that the building served no discernible public purpose. That said, the building appeared to be in good shape. Below, photos of the old Houma post office from this year, including photos of the cornerstone and an honorary (nonfunctional) postbox affixed to the right of the building's main entrance.

Old Houma post office, 2014
Old Houma post office cornerstone, 2014
Old Houma post office: old postbox, 2014

Here is the site of the current post office in Houma. The building at left houses various federal offices, while the post office is at the right.

Houma post office, 2014

There are three Contract Postal Units (CPUs) in Houma, but that's the subject for perhaps another post.


  1. Interesting post, thanks for sharing. How do you feel photographing privately owned buildings? This is also a touchy thing when I'm out on road trips.


  2. If you own a historic property, I suspect you'd recognize that it's par for the course that people might be interested in photographing it, right?

    To me your question is a bit funny, because I've largely been confronted outside public buildings for that kind of thing. Ooh, except once in California, a woman told me I couldn't do it and called the owner. (I pointed out my car and told her to copy my license plate and report me to the police if she didn't like it.)

    Fact is, so long as you're on public property (a street, sidewalk, etc.) it's perfectly acceptable and legal; and if Google can do it en masse with Street View, so can we! No guilt, David!

  3. Yep, I've confronted more with and in public buildings more than privately owned ones too.

    Always a challenge to tactfully inform employees its ok to photograph the exterior of the building.

    Keep up the great work, take care,