Is the DAR Chapter House the oldest building in Ouachita Parish?

I’m about to stir up some controversy with a simple, two letter answer to the above question: No. Hear me out.

For my entire career, I have heard that the Chapter House behind the Courthouse dates to 1816. Some said there were originally two buildings the same size on opposite ends of the courthouse square and when they deteriorated, the good materials from both were used to reconstruct one. Let me give you two newspaper articles I found.

The Ouachita Telegraph, April 27, 1889, page 3

The committee appointed by the police jury to have the clerk’s office repaired after having made a thorough examination of the building came to the wise conclusion that it was too badly damaged to repair and have recommended that both it and the recorder’s office be torn down and that a new building consolidating the two offices into one, be erected. This idea has met with general approval and the plan will no doubt be carried out an an early day. The building will be located on the northeast corner of the public square about where the recorder’s office now stands. We trust the police jury will display a spirit of liberality in this matter and have a building erected in every way in keeping with the progressive spirit of our people and one that will answer the purposes for which it is intended and at the same time be comfortable and convenient.

*A letter to the editor in the Telegraph of October 26, 1889 complained that while they were tearing down the Clerk’s office, the records were piled outside under a tarp exposed to the elements!

The Times-Democrat (New Orleans, LA) June 12, 1893, Page 2

(Quoting a Monroe paper) “The old recorder’s office, in the northeast corner of the courthouse square, has been torn down, and thus a familiar object to the sight of the ‘oldest inhabitant’ is removed. The material will be used in building an annex to the clerk’s office, where the records will be kept. In order to build the annex, however, it will be necessary to cut down one of the largest and prettiest trees in the square – a stately elm, worth more in our opinion than the apology for a clerk’s office with the annex added. Just why the police jury prefers trying to patch up the old office and be guilty of this piece of vandalism is past finding out. The police jury is unaccountable, and there is no accounting for what it will or will not do.”

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