Julia Street: Lakehouse Mystery

New Orleans, Louisiana Downtown City Skyline.
Getty

Dear Julia and Poydras,

About 1960, my friend and I regularly rode our bikes down the Lake Pontchartrain levee from the Green Acres area to the Causeway. Down near the Causeway, we found an abandoned white clapboard building built on pilings out over the lake. Being inquisitive young adolescents, we explored and found an open door or window and went in. Inside was a bar and dancefloor with tables around and several bedrooms complete with beds. Behind the bar, there were scores of green guest receipts and cash books. There were no names anywhere identifying the business.

We thought this could a house of ill repute. I saw no parrot feathers. So, I assumed Poydras had not been there at least around 1960.

Is it possible there are any historical records of such an establishment? Thank you in advance for your help with this important mystery.  – Dr. Thomas Keller (La Mesa, CA.)

Thomas, great question! This is one of those quirky things that everyone should know about, but that I fear has been lost to time. Yes, there was a building of unusual activity in the lake near where the Causeway was built. There is no belter source for this sort of thing than Carlton Dufrecheau the General Manger of the Causeway. Here is what he told Poydras who interviewed him by skype: “Yes, please inform Dr. Keller it was real. The piles are still there immediately on the east (New Orleans) side of the Bridge. In fact, I can see a plethora of pelicans sitting on them now. From what I understand, it was a quite a happening place – like a little casino way back when – slot machines, bar, and maybe ladies of the evening too. The 1956 post card for the opening of the original Causeway show the building in the background and it appeared to be operational then. Until the Causeway was built and Causeway Blvd and Veterans paved, this area was the great outback so I would venture to guess this institution had abundance of character and likely many interesting characters visiting. If only the piles could talk – those would be some tales.”

Dufrecheau says it well: “The building had an abundance of character and likely many interesting characters.” We agree that there would be many interesting stories if only the piles could talk but then talking piles would be a whole story into itself.

Speculation that there might have been ladies of the evening there, to go along with the gambling and boozing, refers no doubt to late night crabbing from the porch.

By the way, during your youthful probing, you would not have seen Poydras’ feathers there because in the 1960s he was overseas working undercover for the CIA. He does not say much about that phase in his life other than to mention something about being responsible for taking down a wall in Berlin. That too is another story.