Originally named Côte Gelée (Frozen Hills) because of its hilly ridge area and the severe winter of 1784, Broussard was founded in 1884. It was named after Valsin Broussard, a prominent local merchant, who formed the first vigilante committee when his own store was robbed. He was also a direct descendant of Joseph Broussard dit. Beausoleil one of the first 200 Acadians to arrive in Louisiana on February 27, 1765, aboard the Santo Domingo. Before visiting, read up on Broussard’s rich history.
Start your day with a stop at the monument to Joseph Broussard dit. Beausoleil, located just outside the police station at 414 E. Main Street. There are several theories on how he and his brother Alexandre both received the nicknames “Beausoleil”, but there is no denying that Broussard and the entire state of Louisiana would be very different today had they not made their way from Nova Scotia to Louisiana in 1765. Kicked out of their native Acadie in Nova Scotia by the English, the two brothers lead the first 200 Acadians (who would later come to be known as Cajuns) to Louisiana. It is his great-great-grandson Valsin Broussard who founded our city in 1884.
Continue to stroll west along Main Street, formerly the Old Spanish Trail (OST), which was one of the first intercontinental highways, stretching from St. Augustine, Florida, to San Diego, California, in the 1920s. The OST organization published Travelogs, providing information on the towns along the way, as well as providing the name of the OST Councillor at each location who could be counted on to be of help. The 1924 Travelog lists the Voorhies Hotel as being comfortable and home-like, and the OST Councilor, M. Billeaud, Jr., of the Broussard Sugar Mill. The population was 608. The OST100 was recently organized to locate, revitalize, and preserve the roadway, businesses, and historic sites along the original auto highway. The City of Broussard was designated an official Old Spanish Trail City through this organization in 2019 and installed authentic replicas of OST signage that would have been along Main Street in the 20s.
As you continue along Main Street, you won’t be able to miss beautiful Victorian homes and other historic structures belonging to early settlers from Nova Scotia (Broussard, Thibodeaux, Comeaux, Landry, Breaux, Girourard, Menard, and LeBlanc families) and the French who fled France during the revolution, as well as the slave revolts in Santo Domingo and Haiti (St. Julien and Billeaud families). Visit Architecture Buffs to learn more about these incredible buildings.
If a snack is in order, stop in Billeaud’s Grocery for a link of boudin or a paper bag of cracklins, but if you’re looking for something more substantial, there’s Ton’s Drive In at the corner of Main and Morgan streets. Owned by the Girouard family since 1963, it had the first drive-thru window in all of Lafayette Parish.
Past Morgan Street is Sacred Heart Catholic Church and St. Cecilia School. Take a stroll through the cemetery, where you’ll see many names of longtime Broussard families and early Acadian settlers including the grave of City Founder Valsin Broussard.
Speaking of Valsin, his home is the next and last stop along this tour. Built in 1876, it is the oldest existing residential building in Broussard. It remained in the Broussard family until July 2021, when it was purchased by the City of Broussard. Plans are underway to develop the building into a community gathering place and tourist information center, while maintaining the historic significance and integrity of the building.