Gretna Historic District
Stroll through one of Louisiana's largest national historic register districts, Gretna's downtown historic district, and discover the unique architecture and landmarks. Settled by German immigrants in 1836, Gretna is steeped in history and intrigue.
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 because 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 new Mel Ott, a Gretna native, exhibit.
Holding his signature batting stance, a bronzed Mel Ott greets you in front of the Gretna Visitor Center. 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.
The Kittie Strehle Home, circa 1845, is part of the Grenta Historical Society Complex. Miss Kittie, the youngest daughter of Claudius Strehle, a German immigrant who came to America in 1832, was the last of the original family to live in the home. She dedicated her life to teaching and retired after 57 years in 1937.
For more information contact the Gretna Office of Tourism at 504-363-1580 or toll free at 888-4-GRETNA.