Part of what is today known as the “Northshore,” Mandeville is a quiet enclave in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Encompassed within St. Tammany Parish, the town of about 12,000 enjoys a small-town feel and rural atmosphere, boasting a rich history that spans centuries.
A Changing U.S. Landscape
The area surrounding Lake Pontchartrain has a long history of habitation, even before Europeans arrived in the New World. Early inhabitants included the Choctaw, Houma, and other Indian tribes. In the 1700s, settlers from France, Spain, and England arrived on the Northshore, then considered part of the "Florida Parishes."
Like the rest of the Northshore, Mandeville was not encompassed within 1803’s Louisiana Purchase
, which transferred ownership of about 828 million square miles of land from France to the United States. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the U.S.
In 1812, the first parcel of land acquired via the purchase officially became a state: Louisiana. Mandeville was founded two decades later. Accounts vary regarding the exact date, however; wealthy plantation owner Bernard Marigny de Mandeville established his namesake town in either 1830 or 1834.
According to many accounts, Bernard Marigny’s family owned nearly one-third of New Orleans, and Marigny used a portion of his sizeable inheritance to purchase about 5,000 acres on the Northshore.
The Causeway Connection
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway connects Mandeville to its southern neighbors: Kenner, Metairie, and New Orleans proper. The Causeway, as it’s known to locals, is considered the world’s longest straight bridge over water, at just over 23 miles.
The Causeway serves as the primary vehicular route across Lake Pontchartrain, and the completion of its first spur in 1956 spawned significant population growth throughout the Northshore, including Mandeville.
Historic Mandeville Sites
On the eastern edge of Mandeville, Fontainebleau State Park
contains remnants of Bernard Marigny’s sugar plantation, including what remains of his property’s sugar mill, built in 1829.
Beginning in the mid-1800s, the town served as a retreat for wealthy New Orleanians looking to escape the hustle-and-bustle of The Big Easy. Like its famous neighbor to the south, Mandeville was a hub for jazz music and social clubs. Several historic clubs still stand in the town, including the Dew Drop Social and Benevolent Hall
on Lamarque Street.
Constructed in 1895, the Dew Drop is widely considered the oldest virtually unaltered jazz hall in the world. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with several other sites in Old Mandeville, most of which are private residences.
Old town’s Bertus--Ducatel House, also called Little Flower Villa, as well as Flagstaff on Griffin’s Bakery, Johnson House, and the Morel-Nott House have historic architectural significance and are listed on the National Register.
Mandeville is also renowned for its natural landscape, which includes massive oak trees and a pristine shoreline. One tree in particular stands out, however.
Towering over nearby residences on Fountain Street, the Seven Sisters Oak is the largest certified southern live oak tree in the world. At a height of 68 feet and with a trunk circumference of 39 feet, the 1,500-year-old giant is the National Register of Big Trees’ National Champion.
Mandeville's Small Town Charm
Gorgeous and unassuming, Mandeville isn’t as flashy or boisterous as its famous neighbor, New Orleans. But its humility is its strength – the historic town provides a quiet, charming escape for families and solo explorers alike.
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