The Ouachita/Key House: Monroe’s Confederate Hospital?

The Ouachita Hotel, was located where the park is now at the corner of 3rd and DeSiard. It was built in 1861 by Sloan and Mason. In 1890, F.G. Key bought the building and it became the Key House. In 1895 a case of Smallpox broke out at the hotel which made the Shreveport paper:

The Times, Februrary 10, 1895, Page 5:

Small-Pox at Monroe

The TIMES regrets exceedingly to learn that on Friday evening last a genuine case of small-pox was developed at Monroe.

Mr. Marlow, a travelling salesman, representing the Goodyear Rubber Company, of St. Louis, is the unfortunate victim. It appears that he was taken sick something over a week ago and was confined to his room at the Key house in that city. The exact nature of his disease was not discovered until the eruptions made their appearance.

The hotel was immediately vacated and is now rigidly quarantined. The Board of Health of Monroe has taken every possible precaution to prevent the spread of the disease. We do not believe that there is any particular danger to be apprehended from this case. Small-pox is prevalent in the large cities of the country nearly all the time. Science, these later days, seems able to cope successfully with it, and confine it to very narrow limits.

A later article reported that Mr. John Barlow was recovering well. Only doctors were allowed to see him. His wife came from Russellville, AR but was not allowed in. She was staying in town with a former classmate. Unfortunately, it was reported he later died, due to “imprudent diet”. Mr. Barlow’s body was thoroughly disinfected, his belongings and clothing burned and his body taken outside the city limits to be buried. Four more cases would break out (three in the Key House). State papers reported the ongoing saga and many towns quarantined against Monroe. Alexandria refused to let anyone from Monroe even pass through the town! Thousands of area residents lined up to be vaccinated against the disease.

The Key house burned down on the night of December 30, 1899. The site later became the location of the Sugar/Sanger/Paramount Theater. Now, reading about the 1899 fire in the Semi-Weekly Times-Democrat (New Orleans, LA) January 2, 1900, Page 3, one little tidbit caught my attention:

The building was erected in 1859 [???] by J.L. Hunsicker and was used during the war as a Confederate hospital.

That one little sentence, if true, clears up a mystery years in existence. Just WHERE was the confederate hospital? Now we know the answer. It was at the corner of Third and DeSiard!

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