As one of Louisiana's largest national historic register districts, Gretna is steeped in history and intrigue. Stroll through Gretna's downtown historic district and discover the unique architecture and landmarks.
Gretna was composed of three settlements in the early 1800's: McDonoghville founded by John McDonogh in 1815, Mechanickham founded by Nicholas Noel Destrehan in 1836, and Gretna developed by the St. Mary's Market Steam Ferry Company in 1838. Gretna became a parish seat in 1884 and was often called the Free State of Jefferson because of the unrestricted gambling that occurred during that time. On August 20, 1913, Governor Luther E. Hall proclaimed these settlements to be the City of Gretna after a group of residents banded together to win a political battle over the parish government of the era. In 1985 Gretna's old town was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Visit the nation's oldest volunteer fire company, the David Crockett Firehouse, home of the Louisiana State Fire Museum. The Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop takes you back to the days of early craftsmanship. Tour the "red caboose," the home of the Southern Pacific Freight Depot & the Illinois Central Caboose museum to get a glimpse of railroad memorabilia. The German-American Cultural Center interprets the German immigrant contribution to Louisiana from 1720 to the present. Guides will greet you in period costumes and take you through this newly renovated state museum including the Gretna native Mel Ott exhibit.
The Kittie Strehle Home (founded in 1845) is part of the Gretna Historical Society Complex. Miss Kittie, the youngest daughter of Claudius Strehle, a German immigrant who came to America in 1832, dedicated her life to teaching and retired after 57 years in 1937. She was the last of the original family to live in the home.
Holding his signature batting stance, a bronzed Mel Ott statue greets you at Mel Ott Park. Mel Ott was born in Gretna March 2, 1909 and leaped to fame in 1926 after leaving high school to join the New York Giants, making him the youngest ever to play major league baseball. In 1951, he was named to baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. He is best known for his unusual batting stance and his 511 home runs and national league record when he retired. He had a .304 lifetime batting average and played in eleven All Star Games and in three World Series. Some other famous Gretna natives include Lash LaRue, Robert Emmet Kennedy, Frankie Ford and J. B. Spencer.
Make sure to stop by the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen "Love That" mural on 1st Street in Old Gretna! Painted by local artist, Keith Eccles, it was featured in a national commercial and Popeyes would still like to keep the love going - take a photo and use #popeyes on Instagram!
Spend a day in Gretna! Visit our Gretna Day Trip Itinerary here!
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