One of the attractions that has drawn us to the downtown districts of smaller towns around the country has been a restored movie theater or hotel; on a larger scale, it may be the district itself that has revived the architectural details of many of the buildings.
In the case of Kenner, LA, a portion of its 16-block historic district caught our attention as we traveled through the city just northwest of New Orleans on our way to Grammercy last December.
A few days ago, we headed down Williams Boulevard to LaSalle Landing, where we saw numerous flags under which Kenner has existed since LaSalle's landing. Among others are the Union Jack, the flag of Spain, and the flag of the Confederate States of America. Located in the park is also a statue commemorating the first world heavyweight boxing championship, which was held in the city of Kenner. "It was the fight of the century, a bare-knuckle brawl for the ages between 'Gypsy' Jem Mace, 165 pounds, and Tom Allen, 170 pounds.... On that day (May 10, 1870)...flying fists of fury...for 10 rounds (44 minutes) earned 'Gypsy' Jem Mace the world’s first heavyweight crown" (travelingringo.com).
Behind us as we viewed the main street through town from the levee was this view of some of the barge and shipping traffic on the Mississippi.
To our left was this replica of an 1861 vintage Confederate ten pound Parrott cannon. The replica was placed in Rivertown to com-memorate the Coleman Iron Foundry, Kenner's first industry. Above the cannon is a plane preparing to land at Louis Armstrong-New Orleans International Airport.
We came down from the levee and entered Kenner's Heritage Park, a replicated village celebrating the colorful history of the town. The park was virtually empty on this weekday as we strolled down beautifully landscaped walkways, past buildings such as, a general store (above),
showing cans of Barnum's Animals from the National Biscuit Company,
a produce business,
a traditional blacksmith shop,
and a 1930's era gas station.
An old truck
and another outbuilding contribute to the historical emphasis of the park.
The newest additions to the site are a beautiful pond and covered bridge adjacent to the replica of St. Mary's Church, the first church in Kenner.
Continuing along Williams Boulevard, we found the streets relatively bare. Sadly, the historic district was in the process of closing up. The Visitor Information Center (above) was closed,
the Louisiana Railroad Museum was closed,
the children's Castle was closed,
and the Mardi Gras Museum was closed. All were the victims of budget cuts in staff. The contents of these museums have been auctioned off.
Our lone companion on our walk along the silent streets had four feet and as we passed these hitching posts the emptiness of the historic district was palpable.