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Normal Hill Historic District
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Normal Hill Historic District
Photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

Now part of the Northwestern State University campus, the Normal Hill Historic District is comprised of the remaining buildings of the State Normal School, founded in 1884. It was built to strengthen Louisiana’s ineffective public school system following the Civil War. The role of the Normal School was to train a generation of teachers to fill Louisiana’s schools and raise the quality of public education. Many new buildings were built and the school added new majors. With the introduction of baccalaureate degrees, the school changed its name to the Louisiana State Normal College. Later, in recognition of the fact that the institution was no longer solely a teacher training school, it was renamed Northwestern State College of Louisiana in 1944, and then Northwestern State University of Louisiana in 1970. Today, the school offers a wide variety of degrees and enrolls over 10,000 students.

[photo] Historic and current photographs of columns on NSU campus
Historic photo courtesy of the Cammie G. Henry Research Center, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, current photo by John Lees, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

The district is comprised of two building—Warren Easton Hall and Russell Hall—and three columns. The columns were once part of the Bullard Mansion, built in 1832 and demolished in 1904. The Bullard Mansion was the first building at the State Normal School, and the three standing columns that commemorate it have been adopted as the official symbol of Northwestern State University. Warren Easton Hall, built in 1928, is a two-story brick building with Georgian and Jacobian Revival details. It also contains an English basement that greatly expands the amount of usable space in the building. Russell Hall is a one-and-a-half story building of similar style. It was built in 1938 and, like Warren Easton, contains an English basement. Two other buildings Caldwell Hall and Guardia Hall, built in 1908 and 1913 respectively, were destroyed by fire in the last half of the 20th-century. Prior to their destruction, these building, along with Warren Easton Hall and Russell Hall, formed a quadrangle of learning—and the area is still referred to as the “quad” today.

The Normal Hill Historic District is located on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. Warren Easton Hall, at 136 Caldwell Dr., is currently an elementary lab school and does not encourage visitors. Russell Hall, at 125 Central Ave., now serves as the home of the Business Department and is open from 8:00am to 4:30pm. The quad is always open to the public.

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