Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History
Acadian History | Acadian Genealogy | Cajun History | Cajun Genealogy
MAIN PAGE | "How To" Book | Article Index
| CMALinksHébert Website

Acadian-Cajun Articles

 VERMILIONVILLE NAME THRIVES IN ACADIANA
                    Before there was a city named Lafayette, there was on this spot a village 
                    called Vermilionville. It's a name not likely to be forgotten in the heart of Acadiana.

                    An elegant restaurant, described as Lafayette's first inn (circa 1818),
                    bears the name Cafe Vermilionville. And a splendid living history museum
                    featuring original and replications of Acadian and Creole structures is the
                    official Vermilionville of today.

                    When the Acadians first came to this area of southern Louisiana from Nova
                    Scotia in 1763, many settled along the banks of the Vermilion River. Calling
                    their settlement Vermilionville was a natural.

                    The river knew even earlier inhabitants, including the fierce Attakapas
                    Indians, feared even by other tribes. Traders came by boat to where the Old
                    Spanish Trail crossed the stream, now known as the Pinhook Bridge, to trade
                    with the Indians and trappers in the area.

                    Later, as water transportation grew for the region, salesmen arrived,
                    lodged at Lafayette's first inn, and hired horses and buggies to drive to
                    surrounding towns to do business. Or so goes a written history of Cafe
                    Vermilionville, which admits that no one really knows who built that first inn
                    or when.

                    Pinhook Road is now a major Lafayette thoroughfare. Alongside the Pinhook
                    Bridge rises the sleek Lafayette Hilton and Towers. Nearby is Cafe
                    Vermilionville at 1304 Pinhook; phone: (318) 237-0100.

                    The original inn that now houses the restaurant is believed to have
                    predated Vermilionville, which was founded in 1821 on land donated to the
                    Roman Catholic Church by a cotton planter named Jean Mouton. A church was
                    blessed in the name of St. John (the Cathedral of St. John now stands on this
                    plot).

                    Mouton conceived the idea of laying out a town called Vermilionville for
                    the river on which it stood. It was incorporated in 1836, but in 1884, the act
                    of incorporation was amended to change the name to Lafayette, titled like its
                    parish for the Marquis de Lafayette, who fought in the American Revolution.

                    Through those years, what is now Cafe Vermilionville saw many changes of
                    name, role and ownership, as well as numerous renovations and additions.

                    The restaurant, which is celebrating 15 years of award-winning haute
                    cuisine, is decidedly upscale.

                    Ken Veron, member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs and other culinary
                    organizations, owns the restaurant and its building, and Michael Richard is
                    his executive chef. Lunch is served Monday through Friday; dinner is served
                    Monday through Saturday.

                    The other Vermilionville is a museum at 1600 Surrey St.

                    Described as a reconstructed Cajun community, Vermilionville is designed to
                    educate and entertain visitors about the unique culture and bayou life of the
                    Acadians and Creoles from 1765 to 1890.

                    Visitors first enter the Festive Area, where buildings from the Creole
                    Plantation era include a Visitors Center with Le Boutique gift shop, La
                    Cuisine de Maman restaurant, Acadiana Art Gallery, Bakery and Cooking School,
                    and the Performance Center, which is modeled after an old cotton gin and is
                    the site of daily Cajun music.

                    The Folklife Area, composed of a group of assembled historic structures
                    dating from 1803 to 1880, is bustling.

                    Inside the buildings, artisans in period dress demonstrate netmaking,
                    spinning, quiltmaking, woodcarving, blacksmithing and more.

                    Maison Acadienne (circa 1860) was once a schoolhouse of the Mouton
                    grandchildren.

                    A replica structure, La Chapelle des Attakapas, is modeled after a blend of
                    Catholic churches from the 1700s at Pointe Coupee and St. Martinville.

                    Guided tours by costumed guides, custom packages for group tours, holiday
                    celebrations, and such special offerings as Cajun and Creole weddings are
                    among the features of this burgeoning 8-year-old attraction. 

By Jean Simmons, Dallas Morning News, The Arizona Republic, 10-11-1998, pp T3.  Copyright The Arizona Republic (1998)