Our History

Welcome to the Town of Washington!  Our city is defined less by boundaries on a map than by the sense of shared values our residents hold dear.  We take pride in maintaining a wholesome lifestyle, rich in cultural history, along with a deep commitment to the preservation of our environment and a progressive approach to local business.

Founded in 1720 and incorporated in 1835, Washington is the 3rd oldest settlement in Louisiana. The community was first established as Poste des Opelousas, a French trading post. Early records indicate that the community was later called Church Landing because the settlement included the first church in the Opelousas district, La Iglesia paroquial de la Immaculada Conception del Puesto de Opelousas, built in 1774. The land had been originally deeded to Jacques Courtableau. It was subsequently granted to “the guardian of the church” which began selling lots in 1822.

In the 1800′s Washington was an important steamboat port with cotton, cattle, sugar, and molasses being the major products shipped from the region. It became the largest steamboat port between New Orleans and St. Louis, Missouri.


Historic Washington, Louisiana

The Town of Washington is to Louisiana what Williamsburg is to Virginia. The historic homes and businesses of Washington are graceful, original from Louisiana’s nineteenth-century past. For example, the Old Steamboat Warehouse located on Bayou Courtableau just upstream from the steamboat turnaround is a fascinating reminder of the bustling steamboat era which drew to a close only after the coming of the railroad in the late 1800′s. For much of the nineteenth century,  was the largest inland port between New Orleans and St. Louis.

Because the bayou was navigable south to New Orleans and northward by flatboat to the rich agricultural area, the town rapidly became a center for commerce and transportation.

In May of 1900, the last steamboat left Washington and since that time other areas in the state has surpassed the little community on Bayou Courtableau as major commercial centers. However, Washington has never lost the character of its rich heritage.

Washington contains many examples of various Louisiana architecture, ranging from board and batten cottages to towering plantation houses with full galleries. The brick commercial buildings on Main Street are also of major interest since a number of them still maintain their 19th-century ornamental storefronts. Washington has many wonderful old live oaks, many of which are recorded in the register of the Louisiana Oak Society. Beneath the oaks are plants made popular more than 150 years ago. The historic significance of Washington is recorded in the National Historic Registry.