Black Creoles of Louisiana - Settlements

In New Orleans, Creoles have tended to remain strongly affiliated with neighborhoods such as the Treme area near the French Quarter as well as in the Gentilly area. Creole Neighborhoods are centered around involvement in social clubs and benevolent societies as well as Catholic churches and schools. Black Creole sections of varied class/caste affiliations are found in most southern Louisiana towns of any size. In rural plantation areas, Creoles may reside in rows of worker housing or in some cases in inherited owners' homes. In southwestern Louisiana prairie farming regions, small settlements on ridges of high ground or pine forest "islands" may be entirely composed of descendants of Black Creoles who were freed or escaped from plantations to the east. Although Houston has a Creole-influenced Black neighborhood, in West Coast cities people are affiliated through networks maintained in Catholic churches, schools, and dance halls.

In rural plantation areas and some New Orleans Neighborhoods, Creole houses are a regionally distinctive form. These cottage dwellings combine Norman influences in roofline and sometimes historic construction with half-timbering and bousillage (mud and moss plastering), with Caribbean Influences seen in porches, upturned lower rooflines (false galleries), louvered doors and windows, and elevated construction. Most Creole cottages are two rooms wide, constructed of cypress with continuous pitch roofs and central chimneys. They were expanded and decorated according to the wealth and needs of the family. The basic Creole house, especially more elite plantation versions, has become a model for Louisiana suburban subdivisions. Other major house types include the California bungalow, shotgun houses, and mobile homes. Of these, the shotgun shows particular Louisiana characteristics that relate it to the dwellings in the Caribbean and West Africa. It is one room wide and two or more rooms long. Although shotgun houses are often associated with plantation quarters, they have frequently been gentrified in construction for middle-class Creoles and others by being widened, elevated, trimmed with Victorian gingerbread, and otherwise made fancier than the unpainted board-and-batten shacks of slaves and sharecroppers. All these house forms and their many variations, often painted in deep primary colors and rich pastels, create a Louisiana Creole-built environment look that has come to symbolize the region as a whole.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: