Informer: Construction for Nellie Lutcher Memorial Park underway next to LC Fire Dept. Station 1

Published 4:33 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

In what block of the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District will the park be built?

Construction is underway for the Nellie Lutcher Memorial Parkway Park at the corner of South Division Street and Enterprise Boulevard, next to Lake Charles Fire Dept. Station 1.

The Nellie Lutcher Cultural District — which is just east of downtown Lake Charles and encompasses a portion of Interstate 10 — was recognized as an official cultural district in 2016 with the intention of generating local community revitalization and economic growth.

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“The area of the district along the I-10 corridor has served as a major artery for Southwest Louisiana since the late 19th century,” Nellie Lutcher Cultural District Neighbor Alliance founder Nicole Moncrief previously told the American Press. “Enterprise Boulevard and Railroad Avenue once served as the home of retail and food establishments and a vibrant African-American music scene.”

Lutcher was an internationally known jazz and blues artist born in Lake Charles. She lived along Enterprise Boulevard and attended New Sunlight Baptist Church, which is located within the district on V.E. Washington Avenue.

The district that now bears her name was also the location of Gold Band Records, the first studio where Dolly Parton recorded music. Parton’s first 45 rpm vinyl single, “Puppy Love,” was recorded there in 1960 when she was 13. The recording company also helped create music with Cajun accordion master Iry LeJune, Freddie Fender, Boozoo Chavis, Guitar Jr., Katie Webster and Cookie and the Cupcakes.

The impact of quality investments within the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District could be significant for Lake Charles, Moncrief said.The impact of quality investments within the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District could be significant for Lake Charles, Moncrief said.

“It is important to recognize that the adorable coffee shop, the trendy clothing boutique, or the chic wine bar you may have walked past or even frequented in cultural districts elsewhere were not owned by the cities in which these businesses were located,” Moncrief said. “Rather, they are products of everyday people who made conscious decisions to invest and that is what the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District needs.”

Already Acadian Ambulance, Ryan’s Performance and Empire of the Seed (The Cash and Carry Building) have transformed blighted buildings in that district into thriving businesses. The EDA has also granted $1.6 million in American Rescue Plan funds to build a new Mardi Gras Museum in the district.

The pocket park being created now will include a plaza, mural on the fire station wall, stage and places to eat and gather.

Informer is written by Crystal Stevenson, American Press executive editor. To ask a question, call 494-4098 and leave voice mail, or email