Historical Streets and Images
There were two Pujo brothers, Amede and Paul, in the early days of Lake Charles and it is assumed Pujo Street was named for both. They came from Tarber, France to New Orleans around 1835 and 10 years later, came to Lake Charles. They were in business together in a merchandise store and also sold lumber. They were married to LeBleu sisters.
Amede had a large colonial house on the river which could be seen clearly and Paul lived on the old Jacob Ryan place, his home hidden by trees. The area was called Rose Bluff after Rose, one of Amede’s two daughters.
Paul Had two sons, Paschall, who according to old newspaper accounts was killed by a man from Texas, and Arsene P. Pujo who became a congressman.
There were also two daughters.
Paul was appointed to see about building a courthouse in 1872. He also served as postmaster, but resigned in 1874. His congressman son was noted for his work in obtaining Calcasieu Pass.
At the end of Pujo Street was Pujo Wharf, a popular place where many steamers landed. A post office was built on the street at the request of Mrs. J. D. Leveque after she was appointed postmistress.
In the early years of Lake Charles many of the streets and property lines were laid with such inaccuracy that it was often difficult to know what property belonged to whom. Such was the case with Kirby Street.
In 1877 word was sent by Mayor Williams Meyer from the Town Council to James Howard and his wife Mary E. Kirby Howard that part of the land on which they were building was the street and they were to “”…desist from making any further improvements.” The local newspaper made note later that Howard ’’…speaks of moving the Howard House…” from the corner. The building which was to be user as a hotel was two stories high and had 11 rooms.
The property in question was the north side of Kirby Street and the southeast corner of Bilbo Street. Howard built another hotel at the back of this one, at the corner of Bilbo and Pujo street in 1877. Listed as being operated by Mrs. Howard, the two-story building was 80 feet long and 70 feet wide and had 28 rooms, some of which were “large sample” rooms for traveling salesmen.
The street in which the Howard’s had been building was named for Samuel Adams Kirby, father of Mrs. Howard and a descendent of an early United States president. He came to Lake Charles from Vermont. He lived in a plantation on property he had purchased from Michael Pithon and which ran from Kirby Street to Pithon Coulee and from Hodges Street to the lake. He also owned the Kirby Lumber Co. whose several mills were shut down in the early 1900s when the price of lumber dropped abruptly.
When the settlers of Lake Charles met to begin the formation of a local government, Kirby was named the first attorney, although at first he did more farming than legal transacting.
Kirby Street was the main street leading to Ryan Street and the town, although in 1890 it was not open beyond Louisiana Avenue. One of the recommendations of the council at a meeting in 1886 was to give “…attention to two very bad places” on Kirby Street which needed “…ditching and filling and a bridge.”
Be sure to read the note attached to the 1903 photo below!
Some streets went through many changes such as Hodges, once known as Charles, Broussard, Canal, Blaske, Laura and South Hodges. All were scratched in favor of one name – Hodges Street.
In 1876 Hodges Street was know as Charles Street. The date of the name change is uncertain but it became Hodges for Jim Hodges whose wife, Marie Riddle, had purchased the property from Jacob Ryan. The purchase, made in 1856, was for six acres running from Hodges Street west and lying north of Pujo Street. Hodges built a large two-story home facing the street which carried his name. The home was later purchased by J. Lawrence Ryan who turned the house to face Pujo Street.
Mr. Hodges had a store in partnership with Jacob Ryan north of the public square and about 40 feet from the water’s edge.
Hodges Street, like others of the early days of Lake Charles, was low and frequently under water in many places. Around 1882 about 200 feet of the street south of the Iris Street intersection was graded; ditches were dug and a bridge was built at the intersection. It was evidently not helpful everywhere because in 1907 one of the residents near the street stated he could no longer stand to have the drainage of Hodges Street running through his lot and that the street must be graded. This was some years after the street was opened for public use.
Efforts to open the street in the south part of town which necessitated building a bridge over Pithon Coulee were not as immediately seccessful. The cost would total over $600 so the project was postponed. By 1895 the street was from the corporation limits (Sallier Street) to Railroad Avenue. The two blocks north of the avenue were called Canal Street. Today this section is North Hodges.