Everyone’s excited about the upcoming Gretna Historical Society Spring Tour of Homes on Sunday, April 7. One house on this year’s tour is the beautifully restored circa 1860’s Creole Cottage at 635 Lafayette Street that is owned by Stan and Judy Salathe. The dwelling is one of the oldest houses still standing in Gretna and is Inventory #649, a Contributing Element to the Gretna National Register District.

         Desiring to downsize, the couple had been looking for a very long time for the right neighborhood. A devout Catholic, Judy Salathe had been looking for an area where she could walk to Mass every day and knew this was the place for them when she could see the bell tower of St. Joseph Church from the front porch of this needy old cottage with so much potential.

         The home is highly recognized from its 1891 photograph taken during the Great Crevasse that inundated much of the Westbank. Other owners of the home have been the Thoede and Stumpf families, both deep rooted in Gretna. A copy of this photo is hanging in the den with wallpaper unearthed during the renovation used as matting.                     

       Great care was taken to make the present 3100 square foot historic home comfortable for today’s living style. The old charmer has 6/6 windows, bungalow dormer and a lovely, inviting front porch. The Salathes expect this 2 bedroom, 3-1/2 bath with study to be their forever home, so they thought ahead to make the house wheelchair accessible and to later be able to turn a few rooms into a caregiver suite easily. The backyard is now a brick courtyard, great for entertaining, no grass cutting necessary!      

       Stan Salathe, who can trace his heritage back to the White Family in Gretna has a connection to the “White House,” the entrance to the GHS Museum Complex at 209 Lafayette Street.

       How cool is this? Stan’s dad, Wayne Salathe was 3rd Vice president in the early days of GHS and W. Richard White was the 2nd Vice president. The two were among the last owners of the White House and both donated their inherited share of the property to the historical society in 1987.

       There is a photograph in Stan’s office of his grandfather, Erwin T. Salathe, who got his start with horse-drawn wagons as a produce hauler turned beer distributor who was doing quite well. Concerned with the constant talk of impending prohibition, in 1926, he made a good decision to start delivering home heating oil, aka kerosene. His success led to the formation of Salathe Oil Company which stayed in the Salathe family until 2018.                                                          

       For an afternoon of pleasure, attend the GHS Spring Tour of Homes on Sunday, April 7. The $25 per person price includes seven spectacular homes, five museums at the GHS Complex, and the German-American Cultural Center at 519 Huey P. Long Avenue.

       Tickets can be purchased the day of the event only at the White House, 209 Lafayette Street in Gretna from 1:00 until 4:00 p.m. where you will receive a Wristband and Brochure. The Tour of Homes is from 1:00 until 5:00 p.m.