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Old Courthouse Museum
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The Old Courthouse was erected in 1896 in the Richardsonian Romanesque Style. Sine 1896 it has been renovated three times.
Photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

The Old Courthouse, constructed in 1896, is an example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Plans for the courthouse were developed by the Favrot and Livaudais architectural firm of New Orleans. The architects designed the courthouse in the popular Richardsonian Romanesque style, and the building’s arched, recessed windows and the prominent center tower are typical of this style.

The building was badly damaged by fire in 1933. It has since been renovated three times. The first renovation occurred directly after the fire. During this renovation, the tower was lowered, the clock was removed and the roofline over the stairway was lowered. This radically changed the appearance of the building and, except for the clock, these changes have never been reversed. A second renovation took place in 1961, presumably to make the building more efficient to heat and cool. The ceilings were lowered and some of the rooms were divided. Also, aluminum and glass doors were installed. The final renovation took place in 1976. This was aimed at restoring the building to its original form, and reversed the changes made in 1961. Central heating, an elevator and three external clocks also were added.

[photo] Front view of Old Courthouse Museum
Photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

The new Natchitoches Parish Court House was completed in 1939 and opened in 1940, and the Old Courthouse became obsolete. However, as a courtroom was not included in the new courthouse when it was first built, the Old Courthouse continued to serve as the location of the courtroom until the new courthouse was remodeled to accommodate the court. The Old Courthouse building currently houses the Old Courthouse Museum, a branch of the Louisiana State Museum system that hosts exhibits dealing with state and local history. The second floor of the building also houses the Natchitoches Genealogy Library.

The Old Courthouse Museum, now a branch of the Louisiana State Museum, is located in downtown Natchitoches at 600 Second St. within the boundaries of the Natchitoches Historic District. The museum is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday-Saturday; visit the museum’s website for further information. The Genealogy Library is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm, Tuesday-Friday and 10:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday. The Old Courthouse has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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