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Godchaux House renovation a little closer following gala

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 18, 1998

LAPLACE – More than 250 people turned out Saturday, raising renovation funds for the Godchaux-Reserve Historical Society and its museum, the old Godchaux House.

The $100-per-ticket gala was held at Belle Terre Country Club and included rich food from the Avenue Garden Hotel and Sapphire Restaurant, both of New Orleans.

The event featured music, dancing and presentations to corporate sponsors for their donations.

“When it’s something brand new, you never know what’ll happen,” exclaimed a beaming executive committee member Julia Remondet of the turnout.

Corporate sponsors were each presented plaques and a copy of a canceled stock certificate for the Godchaux Sugar Co., with their names filled inthe blank owner’s space.

Those corporate sponsors included Hondo Inc., St. John Fleeting Inc.,Associated Terminals, Maintenance Dredging and CBG Marine Services.

Attendees enjoyed the three-hour event held in the clubhouse and lined up several times for the dishes. Chris Burk and his New Orleans Music jazzquartet provided the entertainment.

The original house was a two-room structure built around 1764 by Jean Baptiste and Marie Therese Laubel. The property was sold in 1810 toChristome Borne, then again in 1815 to Jean Baptiste Fleming and Jeanette Teinter, free people of color. They sold the property in 1821 tofreemen Francois and Elisee Rillieux.

The Rillieux brothers bought up surrounding property and built up its value, but after the death of Francois, Elisee sold his interest to his brother’s widow and children.

In 1833, she sold the plantation to Antoine Boudousquie and his wife, Sophie Andry. They operated the plantation until his death in 1855, and shestruggled on until the Civil War when she declared bankruptcy.

Leon Godchaux bought the plantation in 1869, and he and his family brought the Godchaux Sugar Co. into being. The refinery operated until thetakeover in the late 1950s, when it passed out of the family. The refinerycontinued to operate until the early 1980s, when it shut down. It is now inthe process of being razed by the Port of South Louisiana.

The museum, as it is planned to develop, will include special exhibits on the sugar industry in Louisiana, the Rillieux brothers, Leon Godchaux, women of Louisiana and the Mississippi River as a transportation corridor.

At the fund-raiser, attendees were encouraged to join the Godchaux/Reserve House Historical Society. Individual memberships are $12 per year and family memberships are $15 per year.

Interested people may contact the society by writing to P.O. Box 234,Reserve, LA 70084.

Photo by Rebecca Burk.

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