An Historic Treasure in Lafayette, Louisiana
About the Book
The story of Lafayette's Bendel Gardens begins long before the man for whom it was named was born in the village called Vermilionville. Modeled on Houston's elegant River Oaks community, Bendel Gardens became a subdivision in 1950, though its history dates to the 18th Century, when early French and Spanish settlers and later Acadian exiles began to develop lands long inhabited by Native Americans. Author and resident Jeanette Parker chronicles that evolution and paints a vivid picture of life at the Mouton family's Walnut Grove plantation and its devastation in the Civil War. She then traces the property's 20th Century ownerships, notably its acquisition by native son and fashion icon Henri Bendel, who dreamed of building a riverfront mansion there and adorned the property with elaborate plantings, including an allée of magnolia trees, that remain today. The book explores Bendel's intriguing life and events that paved the way for his estate to become one of Lafayette's most distinctive neighborhoods. Segueing into the modern era, the narrative invokes urban legends; anecdotes of bomb shelters, movie settings, and distinguished residents; and other memories shared by current and former residents. A long-needed accounting of a Lafayette history that has hidden in plain sight for much too long!
About the Author
Jeanette Plauché Parker was born and raised in Lake Charles and moved to Lafayette in 1957. After earning her doctorate at the University of Georgia, she joined the USL (UL Lafayette) faculty, directing programs for gifted and creative children and their teachers. She retired in 2004 as Professor Emerita and continues to serve actively on the board of Ascension Episcopal School, which she founded in 1959. Her latest book, based on family and church records, legal documents, personal interviews, and other primary sources, presents an authentic history of the Bendel Gardens subdivision, in which she has lived since 1992. Jeanette was married for 60 years to Luther George Parker (deceased); they had three sons: Jim, Robert, and George Parker.