OLD METAIRIE

Jefferson Parish was created in 1825, carved out of Orleans Parish which had been officially created eighteen years before. The part of Jefferson Parish north of Airline Highway and immediately to the west of New Orleans is called Metairie. Much of the truly "old" sections of Jefferson Parish have become part of the City of New Orleans through annexation. In fact, the northern boundary line of the former City of Carrollton is a beautiful avenue of oaks known as Northline. It forms the grand approach to Metairie Country Club, as well as perhaps the most impressive street in Metairie Country Club Gardens. Both the City of Carrollton and Jefferson City, which comprises a major part of Uptown New Orleans, were annexed in the 1870's.

Today's boundaries of what we call Old Metairie are Airline Highway, Causeway Boulevard, Veterans Memorial Highway and the Seventeenth Street Canal. Others would say it is made up of the two Roman Catholic parishes, St. Francis Xavier and St. Catherine of Siena. Metairie Road was once called the Chemin des Chapitoulas because it followed Bayou Metairie to that stretch of the Mississippi River known as the Chapitoulas Coast. Indians and early French settlers had traveled this route from the earliest times. The earliest concessionaires came prior to 1723. Among them were Sieur Claude Joseph Villars Du Breuil, whose lands were just upriver from Bienville's, and three of the Chauvin brothers from Canada. They were Louis Chauvin de Beaulieu, Nicolas Chauvin de La Frenière and Joseph Chauvin de Léry (Delery). These lands ran from river to lake, but one plantation belonging to Chartier de Baulne ran from Bayou Metairie (Metairie Road) to the lake.

A map of about 1723 indicates his structures along the Metairie Ridge to be the earliest known buildings in Metairie. The lands along the ridge were utilized as farms and pasture land for cattle, as well as for the harvesting of timber. Some of the landowners rented their lands along the ridge to farmers. The name métairie in French means "a farm that is worked on a fifty-fifty basis," and such arrangements existed along this ancient road. Soon the concessionaires prospered, and Sieur Du Breuil was to become the wealthiest man in Louisiana. Growing indigo and sugar cane, he also harvested timber and carried out large construction projects like the Ursuline Convent. By 1764, Louis Césaire LeBreton (La Frenière's son-in-law) became the owner of most of Old Metairie and considerably more.

In 1765 French Capuchin friars obtained lands for cultivation in Metairie that were later transferred to the Spanish Capuchins. In 1784, forty arpents of Capuchin lands were purchased by Don Andres Almonester y Roxas. They extended from the vicinity of Homestead Avenue to Canal Boulevard. Almonester soon sold most of his holdings to five individuals. One of those purchasers was Pierre Demouy, who bought five arpents from Almonester in 1791 the heart of what is today called Old Metairie. Metairie remained a farming community throughout the nineteenth century. Until the early 1900s, one could find orchards, truck farms and nurseries commingled with older farmhouses.

About 1915 a streetcar line ran along Metairie Road to Shrewsbury, which sparked development. The two decades before World War II saw most of the impressive homes go up in the area. Imposing Mission Revivals, English Tudors and Neoclassic, Colonial Revivals were just some of the styles being constructed in those years. Today these homes and their smaller neighbors are much sought after, and huge sums have been paid to tear down an existing home just for that lot with the right location. The phrase "tear down" is common nomenclature for this ultra-convenient neighborhood, so close to everywhere else in the city. There are also so many wonderful shops and restaurants along Metairie Road. Two major country clubs wrap around Old Metairie's boundaries.