The Importance of Freetown-Port Rico in Lafayette, Louisiana
Learn about the history and present-day culture staples of the historic district, Freetown-Port Rico
Freetown-Port Rico is a historic Afro-Creole multicultural district in Lafayette, Louisiana. Before the American Civil War, Freetown-Port Rico was settled by freed people of color. During the Post-Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras, when American white supremacy reigned, Creoles of Color were able to find solace and camaraderie amongst Cajuns, Jewish, Lebanese, Latinos, and other locals in Freetown-Port Rico.
The area was considered a walkable neighborhood prior to car transportation. There were sidewalks and essential businesses nearby, therefore residents lived, shopped, and thrived in their district. The community was (and is) home to bakeries, churches, barbershops, Creole Cottage homes, banks, local meat markets, a Black-owned jazz club (Good Hope Hall), and so much more.
The Freetown-Port Rico area was once a part of Île Copal Plantation (Sweet Gum Grove Plantation), owned by Louisiana Governor Alexandre Mouton (1843–1846), a slave owner, and former Democratic senator. According to The Daily Advertiser, around 120 enslaved people worked on the plantation.
During the Post-Reconstruction era, The Good Hope Hall Jazz Club housed the True Friends Society (c.1880). They formed the organization to defend and protect Afro-Creoles and African-Americans from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the Knights of the White Camelia.
Freetown-Port Rico also holds significant Mardi Gras history. The intersections of Stewart and Gordon designate the starting route for the first Afro-Creole Krewe Mardi Gras Parade in Lafayette. The Krewe chose Haitian revolutionary leader, Toussaint L’Ourveture, and his wife, Suzanne Simonné Baptiste L’Ourveture as their ongoing monarchs.
Present-Day Freetown-Port Rico
In 2016, Freetown-Port Rico was registered in the National Register of Historic Places by The Sustainable Development Lab at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette School of Architecture and Design…