(The Mount Carmel Oaks can be found in a lot on Academy Street, a short semicircular street located behind the Carmel Inn. The Carmel Inn is located at 400 East 1st Street [LA Hwy 1]. Turn onto St. Charles Street, drive one long block and turn at the first left.)
In 1855, Mount Carmel Academy, a Catholic boarding school for girls under the direction of the Sisters of Mount Carmel, began its first school session at this location. The group of five oaks located on the lot at 100 Academy Street is all that remains of the old school grounds where the last Mount Carmel Academy building was located. That structure, completed in 1900, once faced St. Charles and East Second Streets (now the location of the Carmel Inn & Suites). The old oaks date back approximately to the mid-1800s when the first school building was constructed.
Mount Carmel was founded by Père Charles Menard, known locally as the “Apostle of Bayou Lafourche” for his more than 50 years tenure as pastor of Thibodaux and Lafourche Parish. Menard worked tirelessly to fill an important need for the community – to ensure that the children learned to read and write as part of an education in the teachings of the Catholic Church.
During those five-plus decades of work, Père Menard helped establish new churches and schools across the parish including St Charles of Borremeo Church in the community of St. Charles, St. John the Evangelist Church in the community of St. John, Mount Carmel in 1855 and Thibodaux College, the all-boys counterpart in 1861. In 1891, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart came to run Thibodaux College which was originally located just south of Mount Carmel Academy on St. Mary Street (LA Hwy 1).
Both schools operated until 1965 when they moved and merged into E.D. White Catholic High School (which was originally named Thibodaux Central Catholic High School). The new school was under construction at the time that hurricane Betsy swept through in 1965 causing significant damage to both of the old schools.
The Lafourche Live Oak Tour was created through the generous support of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Tourism. For more information on Lafourche Parish events and activities, visit their website at LACajunBayou.com.