Courthouse History

Here is the history as well as some photographs depicting four of the courthouses that have served St. Tammany Parish.

Prior to 1817, a courthouse serving both Washington and St. Tammany Parishes was located near Enon in Washington Parish in an area known as "Washington Fields." Records indicated that some soldiers were stationed there for the War of 1812. 
An 1820 map showing the first courthouse near Enon 

According to a publication of the Louisiana State Bar Association entitled "Louisiana’s Historic Courthouses: A Look at the Past and the Present," (Published in 2016) The St. Tammany Parish courthouse sprang from legislation signed by Louisiana's first governor, William Charles Cole Claiborne in 1813. The legislation called upon a local committee to  locate  a  courthouse site  "within three miles of the center of St. Tammany Parish,  which  at  that  time  consisted  of  Washington  Parish,  St.  Tammany  Parish and the portion of Tangipahoa Parish east of the Tangipahoa River."

Following those directions, the group established the first courthouse near the banks of the  Bogue Chitto River near Enon on property owned by Judge Thomas C. Warner, who was the first parish judge in St. Tammany  Parish.

The Bar Association's Journal went on to explain that four years after establishing the courthouse near Enon, another group was given the assignment of moving the parish seat. "The  Claiborne Company had purchased a portion of the Kleinschmidt Spanish land grant in 1813. In exchange for the commission naming the Town of Claiborne as the parish seat, the Claiborne Company offered some of its land and agreed to build a courthouse and jail for the parish, free of charge."

"Robert Layton told them (the group seeking a parish seat) that he'd build a courthouse if they made Claiborne the parish seat," said retired Judge Steve Ellis, a parish historian. This resulted in the second St. Tammany Parish courthouse being built in the Town of Claiborne  just east and across the river from Covington. It cost around $20,000 to build.

That building, built in 1818, currently stands across the driveway from the Chimes Restaurant near the Bogue Falaya River. The structure was completed and opened for business on April 12, 1819. 
CLICK HERE for an article about the above building. 
 However, the bar journal account noted that "within  10  years  of  the  erection of the 1819 Courthouse, the Police Jury determined that the courthouse should be moved  to  Covington,  previously  known as the Town of Wharton."

On June 5, 1837, the Police Jury purchased Lots 12-15 on the corner of Boston and New Hampshire Streets in Covington for use as a courthouse site, the bar journal stated. 

The 1819 Courthouse was eventually sold and used as a private residence and Catholic seminary. In  the  late  1800s,  a  hotel  known  as  the  Claiborne Cottages was built next to the former 1819 Courthouse. Those cottages were destroyed by fire in the early 1900s.   

The parish seat was moved from Claiborne to Covington in 1838. A courthouse was built on the corner of Boston St. and North New Hampshire St. In  1884,  however, the  Police  Jury  voted  to demolish  the  courthouse  located  at  that location. "During the demolition and rebuilding period, Covington Town Hall  was  used  as  a  courtroom.  The  new  courthouse opened two years later in 1886 and was used for 73 years, according to the bar journal account.

 The structure pictured above at that location was built in 1896, with the cornerstone of that building pictured below, as it looks preserved as a monument in front of the old courthouse site at the northeast corner Boston St. and New Hampshire St. 

Here are some additional pictures of that 1896 structure.

St. Tammany Parish School Board in front of the old courthouse around 1906. 

"The completion of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in 1956 magnified the need for a larger facility to conduct the parish’s business," the Bar Association article went on to say. "In 1959, the parish decided to build a new courthouse, completed in 1960. Within the year it took to complete the new courthouse, court was held in the gymnasium of the Jefferson Avenue  grammar  school.  The new courthouse shown below was opened in 1959 in the same location as the previous courthouse. It featured a jail on the third floor.

Here is the printed program for the ceremonies opening the new courthouse on June 1, 1960.
The police jury held a number of committee meetings about what to do about the growing space problems in the courthouse building.

They finally decided, despite objections, to build a new courthouse down near Interstate 12. 
The courthouse stayed in Covington, however, after some legal action by city officials noting that the courthouse had to be in the parish seat. 
For a brief time, in an effort to provide more space, there were a couple of courtrooms and judges offices in the building where the Southern Hotel is located today. It served as Parish Administrative Offices for several years, complete with police jury meeting room and offices for various parish agencies. 
The parish chose to ignore the city's objections and built an office facility on Koop Drive off La. 29 near Interstate 12, moving its main administrative offices and several key departments to that location. In 1996, efforts resumed to build a bigger courthouse, but within the boundaries of the City of Covington. The old P&W Salvage facility on Jefferson Avenue was considered.
"The 1960 courthouse was used until the St. Tammany Justice Center opened in 2003, which brought together many of the parish’s offices that were scattered throughout the city," according to the Bar Association article. Planning for the massive $64 million structure began in the year 2000.
"The St. Tammany Parish Justice Center, unlike  any  courthouse  in  Louisiana,  is  a 312,000-square-foot structure containing 22,000 cubic yards of concrete and 25,000 St. Joe bricks and housing 12 courtrooms," said the article. Here are some photographs of that building.

Downtown Stores in 1983

Here's a portion of the 1983 Covington business map showing the two blocks bordered by Boston, Florida, Rutland and North New Hampshire Streets. Click on the image to enlarge the view. 

On the corner opposite the Southern Hotel, heading east on Boston Street, businesses started with Bridges Drugs (in the old Hebert Drugs space), then The Times Picayune office, Picture This Framing Shop, Blackwells Shoes, Lillian's, Aubert Insurance, Village Woodsmith, the Gold & Silver Exchange, and a Step Up. Joe's Family Shoe Store was on the corner of Columbia and Boston, with Smith Hardware to the south, then L'Escargot Restaurant. 

Across from there was the Matador Lounge. On Rutland St., the Country Crafts and Gifts was where the English Tea Room is today, and St. Tammany Homestead was two doors east of New Hampshire Street. A hair salon called Style Setters was on the corner of Rutland and New Hampshire, next to the Christian Science Reading Room, and Ogden Photography was were the Toad Hollow restaurant is today.

Kentzel Printing is still in the same location, as is Citizens Bank and Jeff Bratton's law office.

Carol's Map Place

Carol's Map Place was a store in Boston Commons in Covington that was owned by Carol Jahncke. It kept a wide variety of maps in stock, everything ranging from globes and atlases to fishing charts and road maps for faraway places. It was the first place that my cartoon pictorial maps were for sale. Click on the image to see it larger. 

Carol wrote a number of children's books, one called Louisiana Visit was also made into an audio cassette. Below is a picture of her holding one of her books called "Fintu."
Her bookstore, Carol's Corner Bookstore, had been located on Lockwood St. in the middle of the block between Columbia and New Hampshire, then she moved it to the corner of Lockwood and Columbia. The bookstore spent some time on Lee Lane, then was moved to Boston Commons and combined with maps. 
Boston Commons is a small shopping area at the east entrance of Covington that features a number of small shops and offices built in old-fashioned style, with front porches and interesting exterior siding. They are located on the former site of the Holden's Texaco Service Station which was a community landmark for years. 

Downtown Covington Growth Study

Some 22 years ago, in the mid-1990's, Nancy Bowen-Ellzey of Bowen and Associates conducted a statistical study of the Covington downtown business area, determining its strengths and weaknesses and proposing directions in which it could improve.

In 1997 she agreed to an interview about the findings from her study. Click on the play triangle to hear the first part of her remarks. 

Just looking over the past two decades, downtown Covington has made great strides in the areas mentioned in her study, particularly in becoming a more defined "focal point" for commercial shopping, professional services, social gathering places and artistic expression. Part two of the interview mentions these and other attributes of downtown Covington's growth.

Looking back at the 1990's, we can see Covington's most recent achievements, a new city hall, the Tammany Trace trailhead and museum, the new Southern Hotel, art galleries galore, coffee houses, rehabilitated older structures, and best of all, people flocking the streets, friends meeting friends, and business people doing business. 

The History of Dependable Glass

Anyone walking down Columbia Street in Covington will pass along the front of Dependable Glass Works, look in the window and see some pretty interesting items made of glass from glass for the home from entertaining items for serving guests to glass shelves, counter tops, table tops and shower doors.

In the design studio area, there are hundreds of samples of glass in various textures that Dependable Glass works can fabricate upon request.  In the back room,  the walls are covered with framed mirrors in various sizes and shapes.

Click on the images to make them larger. 

The showroom is impressive, but it only represents a small percentage of what goes on inside the fabrication plant at Dependable Glass Works where they cut, laminate, insulate and temper glass for both residential and architectural customers.

Round glass table tops

There’s a display in the front showroom of circular glass that can be used for table tops. Part of the fabrication process at Dependable Glass is cutting, polishing and shaping the edges.

In the plant there is a very large computerized cutting table that allows Dependable to cut shapes.   Down the street in their second location at E. Gibson and Lee Lane they have a “water-jet” cutting table.  The water-jet cutting table can cut glass thicknesses of up to 10” in any shape.  They even produce glass cut in the shape of the state of Louisiana. 

Big Louisiana

Small Louisiana

 “The heartbeat of the operation is the beveler” Foxworth stated. It is the machine that produces beveled edges, from a choice of several styles.  Beveled glass edges are what makes a lot of glass products especially attractive.  One of the employees who specialize in the beveling process has been with the company for 45 years.  

Getting the edges smooth and clear calls for not only the right equipment but for the workers to use extreme skill and precision.  Sometimes Dependable will hand polish the glass instead of machine polish if required.  

Business Began 52 Years Ago

Norman Foxworth grew up in Covington and graduated from Covington High School in the class of 1962.  He’s worked in the glass industry his entire life.  He started out working for his family in the auto and plate glass business and then founded Dependable Glass Works in 1967.  Since then Norman has become widely known as an innovator in the glass fabrication business. 

These company photos were taken in 1979, forty years ago

Dependable Glass Works in 2019
His current location in Downtown Covington has historic significance as it is believed to be one of the assembly plants where they produced the Higgins boat during World War II.    After moving to the location  Norman began tooling it up for manufacturing glass, and growing his auto and plate glass window business.

He purchased beveling machines, polishing machines, and cutting machines.  In 1998 he introduced Safety-Plus impact resistant glass to the area. They also laminate glass which ranges from hurricane resistant to bullet resistant to large missile testing.   In 2008 he started producing “insulated glass”.  He took a part of his laminating facility and created a fabrication line for insulated glass windows. 

 In 2018 Dependable Glass Works opened a tempering department in North Covington.  This requires a special  building because of the “tempering oven” required to temper glass. This allowed Dependable to broaden its fabricating capacity with in-house services.  They can temper small size glass 6” x 6” inches up to 120” x 60”.  Tempered glass is used in flooring, handrails and shower insulations.  The furnace heats the glass to a set temperature which strengthens the glass to minimize breakage.

The majority of what they fabricate at Dependable Glass Works is customized for the resident or architect/designer.  Whether it be size, color or texture,  art glass, flooring  or counter tops,  Dependable Glass Works has become the largest stocking dealer of textured glass in Southeast Louisiana and imports containers of specialty glass from Europe and Asia.  

Often architects and designer contact Dependable when they are trying to create something special, such as when they are called upon to mix and match textures and colors, laminate objects in glass such as marbles, Mardi Gras doubloons, or old black and white negatives and interlayers designs.

Some of his orders call for fairly large pieces of glass, so much so that he had to install a heavy duty crane in his facility. 

 Dependable Glass Works has some high profile clients including Tiger Woods, Britney Spears – Children Hospital project, and the Bill Clinton Library.  The company has placed its work in the Superdome in New Orleans, outside the Superdome in the Saints fan ticket holder display, and in retail stores, casinos,  hotels and office buildings  across the country. 
Whenever the need arises, Dependable Glass Works fabricates glass and mirrors for custom-installations, even antique mirror glass and antique reproduction glass, which looks like glass from the 19th century but has the stability of glass from the 21st century.

The 1960’s  glass company has grown into a multitude of special services, employing over 35 people. They open their doors sometimes at 5:00 am in the morning and work til about 3:30 pm in the fabrication department.  The staff is cross trained so that they can work in multiple departments within the company.

Dependable Glass Works trucks deliver glass all over the Southeastern United States.  The Covington-based company is meeting the needs of a wide variety of personal, architectural and commercial applications for the 21st century.   And yet, to onlookers visiting downtown Covington, it is still a quaint Columbia Street retail shop as well.

Foxworth looks over some oval pieces about to be polished.

An array of textured glass waiting for orders

Here are some photographs of the neat things on display in the front showroom.

Hunk of glass, green