Eunice's former first couple's trophy houseby BONNIE WARREN
Just six blocks from the famous Liberty Theatre in Eunice lives the man who is credited with being the father of an effort to preserve Cajun music, the French language in Louisiana and the heritage of the area. “I was mayor of Eunice, and my office was across the street from the Liberty Theatre, which had fallen in despair, and I looked at the building every day and wished something could be done with it,” says Curtis Joubert as he sits with his wife, Kristine, in the courtyard of their home. “Owning this house has somewhat of the same story,” he adds. “It had been for sale for more than a year, and I would pass it everyday on my way home from work and marvel at the showplace of the city that was in search of somebody who would love it.”
“Curtis knows how to make dreams come true,” says Kristine, a schoolteacher who shared her husband’s admiration for the magnificent home that occupies an entire block on West Park Avenue. “After much soul searching we decided to purchase the house in 1999, and we have never regretted the decision for a moment.”
The house was built in 1981 by Tommy and Venita Powell, who spared no expense to obtain the very best materials for its construction. “The vanities in the bathrooms are onyx, and the floors are marble,” says Kristine, as she leads a tour of the 7,000-square-foot home. “Walnut was used for the kitchen cabinets and other [features] in the house. The designers even incorporated an elaborate drainage system to allow for the watering of the huge oak tree that shades the brick courtyard between the main house and guest cottage.”
Curtis is especially proud of the guest cottage because it has a fine kitchen suitable for entertaining. “One of the joys of owning this home is that we can share it with our family and friends,” he says. And after being active in local and state politics for many years, Curtis has acquired a long list of friends. He has amassed many honors over the years for his civic work, and parts of the house are dedicated to the recognition.
“I am so proud of all of his trophies and plaques,” his wife says. “One of the best features of the house is his office with its large showcase that displays many of them.” She also points out the display case that is located just inside the entry to the living room. “I’m the one who spotted the case in a shop and just had to have it.” Asked which plaque is the most important, Curtis doesn’t hesitate: “It’s the one that honored me for my work saving the Liberty Theatre.” He goes on to explain that there have been 900 Saturday-night “Rendez-vous des Cajuns” performances since the theater opened in 1986. “At the Liberty, everything is in French. It’s our way of keeping the language of many of our ancestors alive. My mama taught me French as a child sitting on her lap, and I am mighty proud to speak it every day of my life.” He is also proud that the Liberty has nurtured young musicians. “When we first started, all the musicians were older, and now you cannot believe how many young people are playing our music.”
If life is casual for the Jouberts when they entertain outdoors, Kristine cherishes the times when they use their large dining room for formal dinners. The couple has beautiful china, silver and crystal, and they are known for their large dinner parties.
“I never hesitate to dream big,” Curtis says. “For years I would pass this house and dream that someday it would be ours. Now I just swing past the big iron gates onto the driveway that leads to the house and marvel that it is really ours.” •
This article appears in the Summer 2005 issue of Louisiana Life