Book Review

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 4, 2004

By LEONARD GRAY – Staff Reviewer

GRETNA – A welcome bonanza of historic information is to be found in the re-issue of the 1975 classic, “Historic Jefferson Parish: From Shore to Shore,” by Betsy Swanson.

Ghostly images of lost landmarks, from Seven Oaks Plantation to Harvey’s Castle, may be seen in the large volume, packed with photographs and anecdotes, charts, rare maps, sketches and more photographs.

This history does not dwell upon politics. Rather, it concentrates on the art and architecture of the parish, along with natural history and archaeology.

An inventory of historic sites in Jefferson Parish highlights a number of places which in the mid-1970s were significant. Even more significant is what has become of these sites, some of which have disappeared, while others have been preserved and enhanced.

Jefferson Parish was established in 1825, carved out of Orleans Parish. The original plan was to name the new parish Tchoupitoulas, but other heads prevailed.

The exact boundaries shifted over the years, with entire neighborhoods being swallowed by Orleans, and lines shifting with St. Charles and Lafourche parishes.

The establishment of a long processsion of plantations is also detailed in the book, along with the fates of many, such as Seven Oaks, Elmwood, Cedar Grove, Tchoupitoulas, Whitehall and Avondale,

Neighborhoods from Barataria to Bucktown, Gretna to Waggaman and Kenner to Grand Isle are richly described, especially with architecture and agriculture.

A valuable document, “Historic Jefferson Parish” deserves a spot on any bookshelf of people fascinated with this diverse parish.

“Historic Jefferson Parish” is available now at major bookstores, with a suggested retail price of $35.