History of the Land
Josiah Chambers (born in 1820) inherited from his father Josias 6000 acres a few miles south of Alexandria, the town laid out by Alexander Fulton. The Chambers’ Oakland Plantation is where the campus of LSU Alexandria stands today. Josiah and Frances Williams Chambers expanded their inheritance by 4000 acres.
By the time of the Civil War, Josiah Chambers was the fourth largest planter in Rapides Parish. In 1860, there were at least 336 slaves on the Oakland Plantation, producing cotton, sugar caneand corn, sweet and Irish potatoes. The Chambers family also owned mules, horses, oxen, sheep, and pigs. After the Civil War, Chambers had to sell 5,000 of his 10,000 acres in order to avoid bankruptcy.
Oakland remained a working plantation until February 1942 when it was purchased by the federal government for a military base. Later, focusing its military at England Air Base instead, the federal government, in 1946, sold the former Oakland Plantation land to the State of Louisiana. The property was then turned over by the state to the LSU Board of Supervisors to establish an agricultural school; agricultural research continues to this day at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Station. The 200-acre LSUA campus is surrounded by land operated by the LSU Ag-Center.
There is evidence that a location near Coughlin Hall was the site of the plantation’s Big House and that the James C. Bolton Library was the site of the plantation store. An Oakland Plantation underground cistern was discovered under Parking Lot 1. Slave residences were located on either side of what is now Grady Britt Drive, where the Science Building and the Fitness Center are now located. Historical records indicate that a military engagement occurred on May 2, 1864,between the Union and Confederate armies near the Oakland Plantation slave houses, located along what is now Grady Britt Drive.
One of the two original buildings on campus, named for the second dean (now Chancellor’s position) of LSUA, Dr. Morris N. Abrams, who served from 1962-75. Most administrative offices are in this building.
Completed in 1979, and named for Frank Hugh Coughlin, an engineer and vice president of Louisiana Ice and Electric in 1938, who became CLECO’s (Central Louisiana Electric Co-Op’s) second president, a post he held for two decades, 1946-66. Hugh Coughlin was a strong supporter of LSUA and of nursing education, and that program as well as Allied Health, Institutional Advancement, and the LSUA Foundation have offices in Coughlin Hall.
Avoyelles Hall (named after a neighboring parish, which was named after the Avoyl Indian tribe) was one of the original buildings built and used by the Dean Lee Agricultural Station. Avoyelles Hall housed the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) offices when it was offered on campus. Currently, some Education courses are offered here. The LSUA golf course office and Subway Restaurant share space in Avoyelles Hall.
Once called the “Activities Building,” Chambers Hall housed the campus bookstore, cafeteria, and the admissions and registration offices. Chambers Hall was named for the Chambers family who owned Oakland Plantation. The site of the building was likely that of the plantation slaughterhouse. Today, all Business Administration offices and courses are in Chambers.
Named for the Oakland Plantation, Oakland Hall was constructed and named in 1961. Oakland was the first building constructed in Louisiana using the “Lift Slab Post Tension” technology. The building no longer serves the campus community.
James C. Bolton Library
Named for James C. Bolton, a Central Louisiana banker, and early supporter and proponent of LSUA; Mr. Bolton was a dedicated fundraiser for the Library. Construction began in 1963 and was completed in 1964. The LSUA Writing Center, Eloise Mulder Center for Teaching and Learning, and University Archives share office space in the Library.
Construction began in 1962 and was completed in 1964, with a total renovation undertaken in 2004. Biology, physics, and chemistry courses are taught in this building.
Construction began in 1965 and the building was dedicated in 1966; a complete renovation occurred in 2008. The Student Center houses the Magnolia Café, Student Government offices, and conference rooms. Its west wing houses the University Art Gallery, Student Advising and Support Services, Follett’s Bookstore, and the campus Testing Center.
Barbara Brumfield Caffey Annex
Named for and dedicated to Dr. Barbara Brumfield Caffey, a Professor of English (1963-1992), the campus ballroom, and conference rooms are here.
Designed as a health and physical education facility, the building was completed in 1967; today it houses the LSUA Generals athletic programs, the indoor swimming pool, basketball court, classrooms, lockers, and athletic workout facilities.
Multipurpose Academic Center (MPAC)
Completed in 2011, the 72,000 square foot building is dedicated to multipurpose academic activities; the building includes a wide variety of classrooms, faculty offices, conference rooms, a digital media laboratory, an art and painting studio, photography studios and labs (digital and traditional), a pottery and kiln studio, 175-seat black box theatre, choral practice studio, and ensemble and personal voice practice facilities. The Arts, English, and Humanities, Behavioral and Social Sciences, and Mathematics and Applied Physical Sciences have faculty and department offices in the MPAC.
Oaks Residence Hall
Begun in 2006 and completed in 2007, The Oaks has 256 beds in one-, two-, and four-bedroom apartments, with kitchens and a common living area. The Oaks also has a common recreation room, a swimming pool, laundry facilities, and a computer lab.
Constructed in 1852 for the Edwin Epps’ family, this single story Creole cottage was originally located on Bayou Boeuf near Holmesville in Avoyelles Parish. Relocated to Bunkie, LA in 1976, the house was moved to the LSUA campus in 1999 and reconstructed, thanks to the effort of Dr. Sue Eakin, a former LSUA Professor of History.
Formerly an overseer for Oakland Plantation, where LSUA stands today, Epps established himself as a planter and slave owner. Epps bought Solomon Northup in 1843 and owned him for ten years. Northup helped build the house. Master Epps was informed inside this house that Northup was a kidnapped free man who would return to his family in Glens Falls, New York. Northup tells of his experiences in his 1853 book, Twelve Years a Slave, which inspired a 1984 documentary, Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, and a 2013 movie Twelve Years a Slave.
Bo Nipper Building
The $1.2 million technology center opened in 2004 as a joint venture of LSUA, the Rapides Parish Police Jury, the Workforce Investment Board, the Rapides Finance Authority and the Louisiana Division of Administration. The building is named for Weldon A. “Bo” Nipper, whose career at the LSU Ag-Center spanned from September 1948 until his retirement in August of 1984. He was named the agricultural coordinator for LSU Alexandria in 1960 and later named professor and resident director of the Dean Lee Research Station. LSUA’s Information and Educational Technology Services are housed in the Nipper Building.
Constructed and opened in 1999, the Center serves the children of LSUA students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The Center is one of approximately 100 centers in the state to have earned a rating of four out of five stars. It is the only center in Rapides Parish with a four-star rating; no center in the Parish has a five-star rating.
Heritage Oak Trees
The Mulder Oak
Dedicated in 2005 to Howard and Eloise Mulder, owners and operators of Ashton Plantation at Lecompte, Louisiana. The Mulders were charter members of the LSUA Foundation, and longtime supporters of LSUA.
The Martin Oak
Dedicated in 2006 to Roy O. (II) and his wife, Vinita Martin. Roy Martin was a charter member of the LSUA Foundation and was chairman of LSU Alexandria’s first fundraising campaign. He was avid supporter of the nursing program at LSUA while Vinita Martin’s interests have been the business degree program and the Children’s Center.
The Cotton Oak
Dedicated in 2007 to Mr. William Cotton, Sr, co-founder of Cotton Brothers Baking Company. Mr. Cotton was a continuous and dedicated supporter of LSUA. He was instrumental in persuading Louisiana governors that Central Louisiana deserved to have an institution of higher education, well past his one hundredth year.
The Woodin Oak
Dedicated in 2007 to Dr. Martin Woodin who served as the first Chancellor of LSUA in 1960-1962. Dr. Woodin later was President of the LSU System from 1972-1985.
The Cavanaugh Oak
Dedicated to Dr. Robert Cavanaugh in 2007 on the occasion of his retirement as Chancellor of LSUA. Dr. Cavanaugh served LSUA for 38 years including his last thirteen years as Chancellor, from 1994-2007. Dr. Cavanaugh spearheaded the effort to transform LSUA to baccalaureate status.
The Weems Oak
Dedicated in 2009 to Mr. Charles S. “Charlie” Weems, III. A local attorney, Mr. Weems served on the LSU Board of Supervisors for 17 years (1991-2008) and was key in securing baccalaureate status for LSUA in 2001.
Streets and Avenues
Thelma Ethridge Drive
Named in 2000 for Mrs. Thelma Ethridge, former administrative assistant in the Office of Student Affairs, the street was formerly South Campus Avenue. The Children’s Center is on Thelma Ethridge Drive.
Grady Britt Drive
Named in 1988 for Dr. Grady Britt, former Professor of Biology from 1962-1982; the Science Building, Coughlin Hall and MPAC are on Grady Britt Drive.
Named for General Troy H. Middleton, president of the LSU System in 1960 when LSUA was founded and Colonel William R. Middleton, a Professor of Geography and faculty member when LSUA opened in 1960. Middleton Drive passes Abrams Hall.
Garry Tisdale Drive
Named in 2002 for Professor Gary Tisdale, who served as the Assistant Head of the Division of Liberal Arts and as Associate Professor of History for more than 30 years. Professor Tisdale was instrumental in the formation of the LSUA Faculty Senate and served as its president for two years. Tisdale Drive passes in front of Chambers Hall
Gregg Marshall Drive
Named in 2004 for James Gregg Marshall, who was appointed instructor at LSU in 1948 and joined the Dean Lee Agricultural Center in 1955. Marshall served the Research Center and LSUA as a Professor of Agronomy for 39 years. Marshall Drive passes along the side of The Oaks Apartments.
Jerry Myrick Drive and Jerry Myrick Plaza
Formerly known as Central Campus Avenue, the street was renamed for Professor Jerry Myrick in 2000. Professor Myrick served LSUA for 30 years (1967-1997), was active in both campus and community affairs, and was the founder of the Children’s Academic Programs (CAPS) in 1985.
Tom Bowman Drive
Formerly known as East Campus Drive, the street was renamed for Professor Tom Bowman in 2000. Bowman served LSUA for 24 years (1962-1986) as Professor of Foreign Languages. He was the first president of the LSUA Faculty Senate.
Athletic Teams’ Mascot – The Generals
The LSUA Generals’ Baseball and Softball teams, known as the LSUA Generals, earned the name from the significant history of Central Louisiana in the early years of World War II.
In 1940 and 1941, this region was selected to host the Louisiana Maneuvers in which the United States’ entry into the European Theater of World War II was planned.
Omar Bradley, Mark Clark, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Walter Krueger, Ben Lear, Lesley J. McNair and George Patton were among the officers who lived in Alexandria while leading these maneuvers and planning strategy. These men were or would become United States General Officers. Their legacy is what LSUA celebrates in its athletic program.