Did you know that the Lea Joyner bridge was actually originally named for someone else? In 1931, Monroe and West Monroe decided they needed a new bridge across the Ouachita to connect the two cities. On April 30, 1936, Governor James A. Noe declared “Bridge Day” in the twin cities and his daughter Gay, cut the ribbon to formally open the bridge. Local officials had named the bridge after Prentiss Marshall Atkins, Sr. Who was he?
Prentiss was born in Athens, LA and moved to Monroe around 1909. He became president of the Monroe Hardware company. He served on the Board of Directors at LTI, the Board of Central Savings Bank and Trust and served as Director and President of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce. His biggest accomplishment though, was when he was picked by Huey P. Long to serve as the Chairman of the Louisiana State Highway Commission.
Unfortunately, Prentiss would die three years later at the young age of 57. He lies buried in Riverview Cemetery. Mr. Atkins’ name faded into history. Locals began referring to the bridge as the Louisville Bridge. In 1984, it was renamed for the beloved deceased minister, Rev. Lea Joyner. Sorry Mr. Atkins!