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Natchitoches Parish Court House
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The Natchitoches Parish Court House was constructed as part of the Public Works Administration
Photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

The Natchitoches Parish Court house is a good example of the buildings constructed throughout the country by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration (PWA) during the Great Depression. The three-story brick and concrete building is ornamented with bands of geometric patterns as well as two stone cuttings of American Indians on either side of the front entrance. It was built in 1939,although it did not open its doors until April of the following year. The building was designed by J. W. Smith & Associates in the Art Deco style that was popular at the time. Buildings in this style often looked streamlined and avoided protrusions from the building, such as towers or turrets. Ornamentation was an essential element of the Art Deco style. Geometric patterns often were used to adorn exterior walls, as were stone relief sculptures of people. Chrome accents were also very popular. The total effect of this style was to make buildings seem futuristic and forward-looking.

[photo] Natchitoches Parish Court House
Photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

Work began on the Natchitoches Parish Court house in late March of 1939. The construction was handled by M. T. Reed Construction Company of Monroe, Louisiana, which submitted the low bid of $196,333. Construction seems to have been completed by the end of the year as the inscription above the door cites 1939 and as the Police Jury began shopping for furniture as early as October of that year. The court house was officially opened for business by the Police Jury in 1940. Interestingly, the new court house did not include a courtroom or judge’s quarters when completed. It is believed that this was omitted because several of the lawyers on the building’s commission did not like the local judge. The courtroom in the old court house was utilized until court space could be made in the new building.

The Natchitoches Parish Court house is located at 226 Church St. within the boundaries of the Natchitoches Historic District. It is open to the public from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday-Friday.

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