History

When you invest in vintage or heritage pieces for your home, you are not only buying wood or glass, you are purchasing a piece of history.

Every antique flourish has its own story, and at the RE Market, we are passionate about telling the stories that accompany our treasures.

The foundation of every good story is its setting–most of our pieces come from the area surrounding beautiful Jennings, Louisiana. Settled in 1881, Jennings is a unique crossroads of culture.  Firmly situated in southwest Louisiana, the area has a strong Cajun flavor.  However, Jennings itself was founded by Midwesterners from Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska working for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The Cajuns were good neighbors to the northern settlers, and soon the town was flourishing in a place “where there was neither winter or mortgages,” to quote town father Sylvester L. Cary.  Jennings was officially incorporated in 1900, and in 1901 transformed into the “Cradle of Louisiana Oil” when it became the location of the first oil well and oil field in the state.  The influx of prosperity from the region’s natural resources continued to draw settlers to the area.

George Francois Mugnier Photograph Collection, New Orleans Public Library

With such a unique history, it is no wonder that Jennings is home to so many incredible artifacts and gorgeous turn-of-the-century homes.  In fact, a some of the architectural salvage pieces you’ll find in our showroom came from a reclamation project that saved a beautiful century-old Victorian home from having all of its stories silenced and forgotten.  After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita swept through Louisiana in 2005, many of the region’s homes were left damaged or uninhabitable.  However, instead of letting these architectural wonders fall into disrepair and face eventual destruction, the Louisiana Road Home Program has provided (to date) $8.85 billion to save damaged homes across the state.  Through the Road Home Program, HCM was able to acquire this Jennings landmark, and salvage its expertly crafted components, from the doorknobs to the hardwood floors to the antique clawfoot bathtubs, to insure that they could live on to tell their stories in other homes.  Like yours!

 

The Louisiana Office of Historic Preservation says the original incarnation of the house (left) was reportedly built by F. B. Cutting, one of Jennings’s founding fathers, and was originally located on the southeast corner of Cutting Avenue and Plaquemine Street.  It was built in a fashion common to the Midwest, the “cruciform” design, the roofline of which was still visible at the time of deconstruction.  It was moved to its last location on Cary Avenue probably in the 1920’s.  Through the years it underwent repeated additions, such as a second floor porch.  HCM’s deconstruction revealed many changes in the interior and 23 different wallpaper samples!  Some of the original elements saved during the deconstruction were two cast-iron bathtubs (now sold), the golden oak narrow-plank hardwood floors on the first floor, the heart pine floors on the second floor, bead-board paneling, two sets of three-panel French doors, the oversized bay window, poured-glass window panes in their original frames, wide baseboards and door frames with rosettes, and the multi-paneled doors with their original hardware.  Also, a multitude of heart pine timbers and cypress siding planks were salvaged.  You can behold all of these historic building elements in our warehouse.

 

Salvaged wood and architectural pieces are not only beautiful, lasting, and unique, they are also eco-chic!  By buying heritage wood and artifacts, you keep perfectly good materials out of landfills, prevent trees from being processed into new products, and save the fossil fuels and energy it takes to manufacture new goods.  All that, AND you get to own truly unique pieces of history from one of the most fascinating parts of the American South.

If you’re interested in learning more about what you’ve read here, or you’d like to stop by our showroom for a look around, please contact us.

Just like the Cajuns and the Midwesterners who settled our historic town, you’ll find we’ve never met a stranger!