Downtown Covington's Legacy of Art & Artists

To say that downtown Covington supports the arts is an understatement. 

Downtown Covington business owners are artists themselves in many ways, both in the traditional ways of thinking about art, and in more outside-the-box creative techniques of showcasing art as well. Here are the stories of the central business district merchant/artists who demonstrate skills central to the creation and  appreciation of art. 

In the middle of it all stands the landmark St. Tammany Art Association building, originally a toy store 100 years ago, now a resource providing outstanding classes, gallery exhibitions, and a mission of promoting the arts throughout the community. 

Below is a list of art galleries. Here's a sampling.  

Saladino Gallery, 409 E Boston St
Brunner Gallery, 215 N. Columbia St.
The Rutland Street Gallery, 828 E Rutland St
Gallery 421, 421 N Columbia St
Tripolo Gallery, 323 N. Columbia St
Marianne Angeli Rodriguez Studio Gallery, 430 Gibson St
Savoye Originals, 1601 N Collins Blvd
BB's Eclectic Creations, 203 N New Hampshire St
Covington Art & Frame, 529 N Florida St 

The list of artistic businesses is also quite impressive.

Several incredible restaurants showcase the culinary arts across downtown Covington, in every setting from elegant evening eating to the daily lunch cafe encounter (as well as a hot dog restaurant). The unique Louisiana style of delicious menu favorites is well represented, but there is an array of unique dining experiences available that cater to all tastes.

There are clothing stores that range from avant-garde fashion to vintage collectibles you can wear, apparel for the young and the young-at-heart. The downtown Covington offerings include general merchandise and sporting goods stores, as well as shops for the discriminating cigar-smoking aficionado and artists who need supplies, easels, and frames for their finished products.

Since Covington is a courthouse town, there are a number of attorney offices scattered about, but even the attorneys show off their artistic skills, with one attorney the recipient of many national awards for his essays, poems, and humorous cartoon books on the legal profession itself. Google the "Bard of Boston Street" to see what we mean. 

The Tammany Trace Bike Trail runs through the middle of downtown Covington.

One place of business specializes in the beauty of glass, for pieces of art as well as large corporate architectural installations.

And speaking of art, there's a galaxy of galleries, from exhibit galleries that offer works by a wide variety of artists in a wide variety of media, to individual galleries that spotlight the creations of individual artists, many of whom are nationally-known. Art schools are also a favorite, and visitors often seek out places where the famed writer Walker Percy used to hang out. 

Photographers are among the artists with their own galleries and studios. You can often see them taking clients for a downtown walk-around for pictures and posing in front of the classic old town storefronts.

For visitors who can't see it all in just one day, award-winning boutique hotel suites and several nearby bed & breakfast accommodations are available.

As time goes on, we will be adding to this website the stories of downtown Covington merchant artists, how they discovered their niche in the art of business (and the business of art), how they laser-focused their creativity, and most of all, how they packaged and promoted their art through successful merchandising. 

The main contributor to this website is Ron Barthet, a retired newspaper editor who has himself drawn a few cartoons and written a few books over the years. But we welcome artfully-written submissions as well. 

So sit back, take out a map (or a smart phone GPS app) and chart your course to downtown Covington, Louisiana. It's the place to be to be the artist you are.

showing where Covington downtown can be found.

Antiques and Uniques Festival
Walker Percy 
Three Rivers Art Festival Flows Into Covington 
The Columbia Street Landing Archways  
Movies Filmed In Downtown Covington 
Fall For Art
Covington Art Market

Frank Patecek's Store

In September of 1991 an article about Frank Patecek's store at the corner of Boston St. and Columbia St. in Covington was published in the News Banner newspaper. It was written by local historian Todd Valois. Here is the text of the article.

"Building reflects family pride
 A wonderful change was brought to one of the most recog­nized buildings on Boston Street Sept. 9 (1991). The second Patecek building received a thorough cleaning and a new coat of paint. It was high time, and the origi­nal builder's granddaughter, Paula Patecek Johnson, should be commended, as well as the Covington Historic Commission, which helped make this possible through a state grant.

Click on the images to make them larger.
The Family's History

On Oct. 27, 1882, Frank Patecek was born to Frank and Antonie Patecek of Chastova, Czechoslovakia. At 14, he left home for the first time. For five years he worked his way through Europe, eventually arriving in America in 1901.

By 1904, Patecek had made his way to New Orleans. While in the city, he contracted pneumonia and was told to go to Covington for his health. There were several east European families in the town and Patecek caught the first train to Claiborne across the Bogue Falaya River from Coving­ton.

He stayed at the Alexander Hotel on Military Road. Henry Otto Alexander, from Strusseburg, Germany, ran the popular hotel for many years.

Patecek later returned to his homeland. Two brothers, Anton and August, and one sister, Josie, then moved to Covington with him. Josie married Paul Freidlander.

A descriptive paragraph in a 1905 booklet

On Jan. 25, 1906, Patecek mar­ried Pauline Theobald, daughter of John and Mary Theobald, at her family's home "Pfalzheim" (Homeplace), north of Coving­ton. The couple had two children, Frank John (Jr.) and Bertha. Bertha later married Gustave Van Schneidau.

Patecek had learned the trade of tailoring in his European trav­els and in 1905 opened a shop on the corner of Boston and Colum­bia streets. For many years Patecek and his small family lived above the store. It was not long before the structure was known as the Patecek building.

On Nov. 4, 1917, Patecek pur­chased the building from Eugenie Wehrli. The former men's shop is  rented and houses part of Nor­man Haik Department Store. In 1927 Patecek commissioned architect and builder John Orr Edgar and his brother Max to build the second Patecek building next to the original.

Many longtime Covington resi­dents will remember the great Heberts Grill that was housed in this wonderful old building.

In 1925 the family moved into a riverfront home on Rutland Street off Columbia. On March 20, 1951, Patecek died. He was 68. Mrs. Patecek died at 82 on May 24, 1965.

On June 18, 1934, Frank John married Irma Blackwell. They had two daughters, Paula Patecek Johnson and Linda Patecek Staab. Frank John Patecek (in 1991) is a retired realtor, and before her recent death, Mrs. Patecek was a well-known public school teacher.

If Frank Patecek and his wife could see the renewed interest in downtown Covington and their descendants' participating in its rebirth, they would be very proud indeed."

The Ramblers Club: Among the people pictured are Frank Patecek Sr., Marvin Poole, John Edgar, Deed Smith, Jim Galouye, Sidney Frederick, Marshal Dulion, Cass Segond, Albert Perbos, Jake Seiler Sr., Charles Theobald, E.V. Richard, Paul LaCroix Sr., Nick Seiler, E. J. Frederick Sr., Dr. Numa Hebert, Bob Badon, Wallace Poole, Leon Hebert Sr., and Emile Frederick Sr.

Text from a 1910's advertising brochure:

"OSTENDORF & PATECEK, this firm is conducting one of the most  popular  gents'   furnishing, and  tailoring estab­lishments in this section of Louisiana.   The firm is composed of Mr. H. J. Ostendorf who has been prominently identified with the commercial affairs of Covington as manager of the Mercantile Department of Jones & Pickett.  

Prior to that time Mr. Osten­dorf occupied responsible positions in New Orleans with D. H. Holmes and Kaufman & Isaacs.  

Mr. Frank Patecek is the junior member of this firm who has been engaged in business in Coving­ton for the past six years.   He was formerly with the firm of Leon Godchaux Co. of New Orleans, prior to which time he was associated with leading tailoring houses in London, Paris and New York.  

Ostendorf & Patecek have a very attractive store in the new Hebert Building, equipped with up-to-date store fixtures and carry in stock an immense line of all kinds of gents furnish­ings and up-to-date patterns in the merchant tailoring line. They have built up a wonderfully successful trade throughout the parish of St. Tammany."

Patecek Building, 301 Columbia

Built shortly after the Great Fire of 1898, the building provides a beautiful example of turn of the century commercial architecture. For more than 120 years, 301 Columbia has housed retail stores and professional offices. It holds the distinction of its second floor being the location of Covington's first telephone exchange.

The early electric neon sign from the Frank Patecek Store is now on display at the H.J. Smith Sons General Merchandise Store and Museum across Columbia Street from the original location.

January 18, 1919 Advertisement

Patecek's Shoe Section

Advertisement Dec. 20, 1919

Advertisement November 29, 1919 


Frank John Patecek in 1976
A realtor and chairman of the St. Tammany American Bicentennial Commission

Photos of the Building Today

Caroling at the Covington Trailhead

Hundreds of people turned out for the Candlelight Caroling at the Trailhead event in downtown Covington. Kids young and old enjoyed the holiday music by a variety of musicians and singers, including Paul Wilson who sang his new song "Covington Christmas." 

Mayor Mark Johnson welcomed all present, and a number of children sang hit Christmas songs. Participants included Crispin Schroeder and Band, Kids Shine, and Kiley McDonald. Special thanks went to The English Tea Room, The Covington Fire Department, Beck and Call, and Separate Checks. 

Here are some photographs of the occasion. Click on the images to make them larger. 


CLICK HERE to listen to "Covington Christmas" on You Tube.

Small Town Drug Store

In a small town, the local drug store is often a busy place, but not always in the ways you would think. Here is a column written by Frank Schneider for his "Second Cup" series in the newspaper, date published unknown. It tells about some interesting incidents at Hebert's Drugstore in small town Covington.

Smalltown, La., was once place where neighbors were always near

By Frank Schneider

When Covington was a small town, it was paradise for young­sters. It offered an unrestrained playstyle that could not be dupli­cated in the city regardless of how many parks or swimming pools it offered.

Consider the drugstore, an impor­tant ingredient in the social mix of a small town. The "downtown" cor­ner drugstore in Covington was Hebert's at New Hampshire and Boston, where once the major high­way funneled traffic through the town.

Oliver Hebert moved his drug­store there in 1940 after six years at a location a few blocks away. It's  still there, bearing his name, but under different ownership. When young people assembled there on Sunday mornings, "Mr. Hebert" would be in the rear of the store dispensing poison ivy lotion and rec­ommending balm for sunburn.

But up front was the social sec­tion where the delicious ice cream sodas and malts were concocted. The nectar sodas, with specks of crushed ice and globs of whipped cream, were particularly irresist­ible even for a "chocoholic." I always had one before a chocolate soda. We sat at round porcelain tables and chairs they call "antique ice cream parlor chairs" in Magazine Street shops today.

Everybody knew everybody, said Mr. Hebert's widow, Celeste. She made notes on some of the drug­gist's experiences, and shares these with us:

August 1937 — Mr. S., a stranger from the city, came to town without a tie and was invited to dine out. Would Mr. Hebert please lend him the tie he was wearing? The drug­gist took the man to his home to select a tie from his wardrobe.

August 1937 — The D. family called from outside of Covington at 1 a.m. They needed special medi­cine for their dog who was about to deliver pups. Could Mr. Hebert come out with the medicine and assist in the delivery?

March 1938 — A customer had too much money to carry around and did not do business with the  bank. Mr. Hebert took the money and issued them a check.

July 1938 — Customer wanted to "bor­row" a deck of cards.

1939 — Customer brought a live chicken to the drugstore asking Mr. Hebert to keep it for her while she shopped. He carried the wriggling chicken to the yard behind the store, and when she returned in a taxi he couldn't find the chicken. But he told her he was too busy to retrieve it then; he'd deliver it to her house on his way home. He called his wife. "Do we have a chicken?" There were two chickens cooked for dinner, she said. Mr. Hebert delivered one to the cus­tomer.

1940 — A New Orleans family lost their dog while spending the summer in Coving­ton. They called Hebert's drugstore. "Please put a sign in your window with a description of Vandy for us?" The druggist did, and a woman who found the dog said she was driving to New Orleans that day and would deliver Vandy to his owner.

1940 — A customer on the phone: "Mr. Hebert, please remind me to buy toilet paper when I'm in your store. I know I'll forget."

One customer instructed the "fresh eggs and vegetable man" to deliver her orders to the drugstore where she could pick them up at her leisure.

New Orleans department stores (whose customers did not reside on their routes) delivered packages to the drugstore. It was not unusual to see lawnmowers, garden hoses, wash tubs and 8-foot pecan trees awaiting pickup by department store cus­tomers.

A woman once borrowed one of the drug­  store's "soda chairs" so she could sit outside the movie theater to wait for her children.

An elderly man came in one day request­ing "Americated cotton" (he meant medi­cated) and rattlesnake bones to string around a baby's neck to ease "the teething."

A customer who planned her child's birthday party at a movie theater across the street from the drugstore asked Mr. Hebert to purchase the tickets and hold them for her. And to charge them to her account.

Mrs. M. called one day to complain about all the charges on her bill for toilet tissue. "I live alone and know there are 1,000 sheets on a roll and I could not possibly have used as much as I am charged for." Mr. Hebert adjusted the bill to her liking.

Pat Rittiner recalls her childhood in Abita Springs, so small that there was no high school there. She attended high school in Covington, where there was also a gro­cery called Hebert's. "When we'd forget our lunch money we'd walk to the grocery and borrow money from Miss Teen, Mr. Hebert's sister. After school we visited the grocery until our mother came to pick us up."

That's how small towns were.

See also:

Hebert's Drugs History

Covington Mardi Gras 1901

Here is an extensive article describing Carnival in Covington and Abita Springs in February of 1909, one hundred and ten years ago. Click on the images to make them larger.