A little over a year ago Tommy Lafleur loaned me two historic photo albums to look over. The albums that belonged to Ophelia Pitre Lafleur, the wife of Tommy’s great uncle Leo Lafleur, had photos that were mostly from the town of Washington. Among the hundreds of amazing early 20th century pictures in the albums were some labeled the “Old Long Bridge.”
Curious about that bridge, I researched its origins and discovered the bridge was constructed in the early part of the 1890s. In 1891, C. D. Stewart and J. M. White were hired by the St. Landry Parish Police Jury to build a bridge across Bayou Carron at Washington. They constructed the bridge during that year at a cost of $1,650.00. Since there was also a bridge known as the “Short Bridge,” people at that time called the bridge Stewart constructed the “Long Bridge.” As the years went by, it was referred to as the “Old Long Bridge” that served the area for many years.
Charles D. (C. D.) Stewart was well known in Louisiana not only for his bridges, but also for the many public buildings, schools and houses he constructed. In 1887, he bid on the construction of the new Market House in Opelousas, a bid that was approved by the St. Landry Parish Police Jury in 1888. That Market House, located on the southeast corner of Market and Bellevue streets, on the courthouse square, was redesigned and changed in the early 1930s for use as the Opelousas City Hall. That building is today on the National Register of Historic Places, listed as the Opelousas Old City Hall.
In1894 Stewart built the wooden buildings for the St. Landry Cotton Oil Company as well as a new brick equipment building for that business located on Railroad Avenue in Opelousas. In September of that year, he had 65 men employed to work on contracts he had in Opelousas, Eunice and other areas of Southwest and central Louisiana. Stewart also built many other public buildings and homes in Opelousas, Washington and other areas of St. Landry Parish and southwest Louisiana during the 1880s, 1890s and early 1900s. (Photographs from the albums of Ophelia Pitre Lafleur, Tommy Lafleur collection.)