In 1968 choosing an interior designer in Lafayette was a rather simple task. After all, there were only three. One of the three was a young man by the name of J. C. Chargois who used the experience gained at a local premier home furnishings store to launch his own venture, calling it Shagwood Galleries Inc.
Today, at 87 years old, Chargois’ countenance reflects a satisfaction with his life and lifestyle while threads of humor weave through his nostalgic tales. He refers to his home as Shagwood Manor, which readily serves as a stellar setting for all the elegant pieces acquired through his career or by chance along the way.
“Collecting has always been my goal in life,” he says. “The first piece was a Gone with the Wind lamp when I was 16 years old. With so much now, I’m finding it harder to find a place for them.”
That is quite amazing – as this home contains 7,000 square feet. Built in 1952, the house initially consisted of a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath. Over the years, the added rooms and stories have altered the modest beginnings but with results that resonate Chargois’ impeccable taste and ability.
“I designed the whole house – half without a blueprint,” he says, adding, “There is no sheetrock on studs, all solid walls.” These walls are cypress and brick that coexist, as in the banquet room where for many years lavish dinners were served to Lafayette’s notables at the Chippendale dining table.
While these sumptuous fares were served on fine antique china such as Meissen, Belleek or Limoges, the simple chandelier above was a sentimental purchase in 1951. It originally hung as the only source of light in the auditorium of the training school he attended, which was located on the corner of Jefferson and East Main.
Chargois also remembers planting the heavily canopied live oaks that grace his front lawn. They were seedlings when he put them in. The front porch provides a scenic view of the oaks as well as a deep-green azalea bed that extends along the fence line.
An old house was moved from Youngsville to Shagwood Manor in 1961. Upon completing the renovations in 1971, Chargois designated it as guest quarters.
Mirroring the upscale style of Chargois’ home, the attached porch here overlooks the Vermilion River. And again in 1980 a smaller building was added, this time to house Chargois’ office.
Yes, Chargois has defied the passage of time. He is still active at present as an appraiser and estate sale organizer. At home a sharp memory can relate the date, purchase price and present value of every one of his museum-quality treasures.
They are openly displayed in a traditional décor, a preference of Chargois’ that is forever in vogue. “Today the fashion is contemporary, which can still be good if it is done in good taste,” he says.
What advice does he offer to young couples with new homes? “Instead of buying inexpensive pieces, invest in a couple of nice ones that can be used forever. Add more as time goes on, and you will amass the quality that is lasting.”
This wisdom has served the master of Shagwood Manor well. “I’ve had a good life,” he says. “I did what I wanted to do.”