To honor St. Martinville's ties to the Acadian experience, in fact and in legend, historic city properties surrounding the Evangeline Oak were officially drawn together and designated as Evangeline Oak Park. The park, also twinned with Grand-Pré National Historic Site in Nova Scotia, includes the Evangeline Oak and surrounding grounds, the Bayou Teche boardwalk, the Cultural Heritage Center, the Acadian Memorial, the Tourist Information Center, Evangeline Boulevard, La Maison Duchamp, and the Duchamp Opera House.
An ancient live oak tree on the Bayou Teche, the Evangeline Oak has been the most visited site in St. Martinville since the late 19th century. The tree is named for the heroine of the poem Evangeline, written and published by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1847. Because of the lack of historical research prior to that time, Evangeline was long believed to be a true account of the Acadians’ exile from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755. The epic poem was immediately popular and read worldwide. Due to the poem’s setting in South Louisiana and its inclusion of place names such as Atchafalaya, Bayou Teche, and “the towns of St. Martin and St. Maur”, St. Martinville citizens claimed the legend as their own.
Open daily 10 to 4:30
Admission includes the Acadian Memorial: $3 for adults; Free for children under 12.
The St. Martinville Cultural Heritage Center houses two museums with a common theme - the story of people uprooted from their homeland who established new lives in Louisiana. These two museums are the African American Museum and the Museum of the Acadian Memorial.
Contact: Elaine F. Clément, Curator/Director, email@example.com (337) 394-2258 phone, (337) 394-2260 fax
The Museum of the Acadian Memorial, in conjunction with the Acadian Memorial, tells the story of the Acadians and their life here in South Louisiana. It houses the Acadian Odyssey Quilt, a work of art that represents the aspects of life in Colonial Louisiana that transformed the Acadians into the Cajuns of today.
Contact: Danielle Fontenette, Curator/Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
(337) 394-2273 phone, (337) 394-2244 fax
The African American Museum tells the story of the arrival of Africans in Southwest Louisiana in the mid 1700s, the experience of slavery, the emergence of free people of color, and the Reconstruction period following the Civil War. It features a 32 foot mural by noted local artist Dennis Williams.
Visitation by appointment, 337-394-2230 or 337-394-2233
In 1876, David Sandoz built this mansion on Main St. in Classic Revival style for his daughter, Amelie, and her husband, Eugene Auguste Duchamp. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it represents the early French settlers who created a rich mercantile economy around the church square that became the center of St. Martinville. From 1938 to 1976 it was a U.S. Post office, the only one to be located in a former private home. Today, it houses a permanent exhibit of blazons representing eight prominent families of the Bayou Teche. A blazon is a “diamond-shaped panel emblazoned with a full coat-of-arms crafted specifically as a funeral memorial.” In 2011, the City of St. Martinville signed an agreement to lease office space and guest quarters within the Maison Duchamp to the World Studies Institute of Louisiana. The first floor also hosts special events and gatherings.
Open Monday through Saturday, 10 to 5pm
Contact: Hillery Peltier, Manager, (337) 394-6604, www.evangelineplayers.org
Built circa 1830, the historic opera house earned St. Martinville its nickname, “Le Petit Paris.” Fully restored, the second level features a live theater, while the street level features St. Martinville’s official gift and souvenir shop, regional fine art gallery and one-of-a kind gifts. The theater is also home to the Evangeline Players.
To make reservations visit the Old Castillo Bed and Breakfast Website.
Although not a part of the Evangeline Oak Park, the Castillo Hotel is located next to the Evangeline Oak on Evangeline Blvd. The only surviving example, “the hotel served the steamboat trade on Bayou Teche during the era of steamboat transportation […] The hotel served the community as a restaurant and tavern, and as a setting for community activities, including balls, parties, and banquets.” Today it continues to operate as a bed and breakfast. For over one hundred years, 1881-1988 it was owned by the nuns of the Order of Mercy and operated as a school for girls.
Visit the “Mother Church of the Acadians,” St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church. Walk around the square to see the Rectory, Parish Hall, Evangeline Statue, Monument honoring Acadians in the American Revolution, and much more. Visitor information is located at the Cultural Heritage Center.
Open daily except Friday morning
St. Martin de Tours is the oldest church parish in southwest Louisiana. It is known as the Mother Church of the Acadians because it was founded in 1765 upon the arrival of Acadians in this area. The current building has served as a center for religious activities in this predominantly Catholic community for over one hundred fifty years. Behind the church, on the site of the original cemetery, monuments mark the participation of Acadians and others in the American Revolution.
This statue was donated by Dolores del Rio after she starred in the motion picture adaptation of Longfellow's Evangeline, filmed in this area in 1929. Sculptor Marcelle Rebecchini used del Rio as his model. Daprato Studios in Chicago, Illinois cast the statue. Del Rio herself inaugurated the work at a gala ceremony in St. Martinville in April, 1931.
The Historic District boasts of 50 historic landmarks/sites and registered historic buildings in downtown St. Martinville. The construction dates of the buildings range from 1820 until 1931. Many of the sites continue to host local businesses such as gift shops and cafes. The Historic District is notable for its contributions to architecture, commerce, and exploration/settlement. Free walking tour maps of the Historic District are located at the Cultural Heritage Center.
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 to 5pm
Located one mile north of St. Martin Square on North Main / LA 31
Admission: $4, free for children under 12 and seniors over 62
Here's a rare opportunity to see how Louisiana's first Acadians lived and to visit an early Creole plantation home. Visit the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site web site.