The structure housing Hotel Cazan was originally a bank before a fire in the 1940s. By the time the 1950s rolled around, Evangeline Parish was rapidly changing and in 1955 Frank Cazan Fontenot turned the old bank building, with its mammoth, thick walls into a hotel.
Fontenot didn’t sleep on his investment. He made extensive changes in the building. By 1963 he had completed thorough electrical and plumbing work as well as having the old wooden floor replaced with a concrete slab.
Mr Fontenot would go on to sell his hotel on February 20, 1967 to a Preston N. Aucoin. The sale was made for $40,000.00 (roughly 288k in today’s dollars).
The bar inside the hotel was once known as Burke’s Lounge, Burke Pierotti who ran the joint, became famous when he successfully sued for the right to serve alcohol to those under 21.
In an interview with Rick Bragg for the New York Times, Mr Burke said “I was in the Navy during World War II, in charge of a 31-man gun crew in the Pacific,”
“I had just turned 21 but half my crew was under 21, and when we went back to our home port, those boys couldn’t come in a bar with me and have a drink.”
“Well, I believe that if a man is old enough to fight and die for his country, then a bunch of white-haired monkeys in Washington, D.C., got no right to tell him he can’t have a drink.”
“And that’s how I feel about it.”
The bar where Pierotti once held court is beautiful. Seemingly acres of Mahogany wood went into its construction with parts of the backbar being imported from France. We would love to spend a few hours in here drowning our sorrows while listening to Nathan Abshire or Tony Joe White.Valerie Cahill, the current owner of Hotel Cazan was gracious enough to give us a tour when we popped inside to inquire about possibly eating in the cafe (it’s closed). We expected to possibly stick our heads inside a room for a minute but in the Cajun spirit of hospitality we instead spend a half hour going through a multitude of rooms, backrooms and hallways.
Cazan is a nice little hotel with stout air-conditioning, Netflix-enabled TV sets, and bathrooms in each of the suites. If you’re out that way for the famous Saturday morning party at Fred’s Lounge, Hotel Cazan would make a nice refuge for a respite from all the sweat-soaked dancing and beer drinking.
The fortunes of Mamou have waxed and waned greatly in the last 100 years.
After the Rock Island, Arkansas, and Louisiana Railroad Company were incorporated in 1905, new tracks were built resulting in a railroad from Little Rock Arkansas to Eunice, Louisiana. It was opened for operation February 1, 1908.
And it went through Mamou with predictable results. An attendant boom in local business followed and Mamou was incorporated just three years later.
Today the population stands just under 4k residents. Eunice, three times as big beckons from 12 miles away with its big city lights. Lafayette, an hour’s drive, is the nearest major metropolitan area. There’s enough boudin and cracklins between the three to sate all the passengers in the 70k cars that traverse I-10 in the area every single day.
We wonder how many of these travelers are aware of the pleasures of Evangeline Parish just 50 some odd miles off the freeway?
Frank Cazan Fontenot died on July 15, 1976. He had been born in 1882.