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Photograph: The water tower marks the Town of Leonville in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. (Photograph by Freddie Herpin.)

Freddie Herpin
Photographer and Contributing Writer

Nestled along scenic Bayou Teche between Opelousas and Arnaudville on Highway 31, the community of Leonville was founded as a settlement of free men of color, or gens de couleur libres.

The town was named after the settlement’s first pastor, Father Leon Mailluchet, who built the first church there in 1898. The present church, with its distinctive tower, was built by the second pastor, Father Eugene Livorel, between 1907 and 1916. He converted the old church into a rectory, and upper windows in the attic are still paneled in stained glass from the days that the house was a church.

As it was in the past, St. Leo the Great Catholic Church remains a center of activity in Leonville, LA.

The village of Leonville was officially chartered by Governor J. Y. Sanders on February 11, 1911, under Act 136 of the Louisiana Legislature of 1898.

Leonville, LA Town Hall.

Today, Leonville is known for boudin and one of the best king cakes in Acadiana. You can find both at Champagnes Marche, winner of a blind king cake tasting and repeat champions at the Boudin Festival in Scott. 

Leonville is also the starting point for many events taking place on Bayou Teche including Top of the Teche and Fete Dieu du Teche, a floating eucharistic procession during the Feast of the Assumption.

Other events celebrate sports and recreation on the Teche, the only National Water Trail in Louisiana. It is also the home of Water Davis who competed in the Summer Olympics and the late Clifton Chenier, better known as the King of Zydeco.

The Bayou Teche at Leonville, LA, winding its way to the gulf of Mexico.

Made up mostly of a catholic population it has three Catholic churches, St. Leo the Great, Saint Catherine’s and Saint Jules, located in Prairie Laurent. During segregation St. Leo’s was designated for the white population while Saint Catherine’s was designated for African Americans and Saint Jules was designated for the mixed race population.

As of the 2010 census Leonville had a population of 1084. The town of Leonville is also known for it’s water system and serves much of the area that surrounds the town.

Newly built boat launch and community buiding on the Bayou Teche at Leonville, LA

All Photographs for Notre Région by Freddie Herpin.

Note: Look for more information and photograph about other towns and cities of St. Landry Parish coming soon in St Landry Now for Notre Région by Freddie Herpin, coming soon.