This ranch style home at the corner of Pithon and Harrison has only had three owners. Molly and Gus Quinn are the current owners, having purchased the home from Meg (sister of Gus Quinn) and Billy Pharr who purchased from the Gerard family.
The following are excerpts from a letter to current owners Molly and Gus Quinn from Richard Gerard, who lived in the home with his parents and sister.
The house was built on fill dirt acquired by my father and Arthur Shepherd who built the house next door presently occupied by Jack and Joan Myers, in a "swamp" in that low lying area. Fill dirt was acquired from construction of the Pioneer Building which apparently displaced a huge quantity of soil and clay which my father and Art Shepherd bought. After it settled, in 1953, my dad began construction of his home which was designed by architect J.J. Gabriel. Due to its construction in a low lying swampy area, the house was designed with bell bottom concrete supports at each of its corners. Unfortunately, after all but the support for the Northwest corner of the house under the master bedroom were poured, the area flooded for a number of days. After the flood waters receded, the foundation contractor apparently never returned to complete the corner foundation, unknown to the general contractor who was, I believe, Pete Peters' (I think) Louisiana Lumber Company. At any rate, the slab was ultimately poured, without the support, the house constructed and the Gerard family moved in.
A few years later,cracks began to occur in the walls of the interior hall around the master bath, and it was determined that the corner of the house was sinking. Dad had to hire a contractor to come in and excavate the corner, install jacks, re-level the house and pour the concrete piling, repair the foundation and repair the yard and interior. Other than that, it has been a spectacular house.
In 1953, I was ten years old and the flood was a very exciting time in my life. I could ride my bicycle from our house on Eleventh Street to the construction site, and was frequently there. The block was a beehive of activity with high school football players like David Painter, Charles Mackey, Jerry Lewis and others helping to sandbag the existing houses in the lower area. There were pirogues, sand piles, and bags being filled, sandwiches being served and leech removal equipment which consisted of rubbing alcohol and gauze to remove leeches from the workers' legs. Spectacular stuff for a ten year old!
As a result of the 1953 flood, the Pithon Street coulee flood barrier and pumps were installed which, at least on paper, would prevent any future floods. My parents lived their entire lives there with no more flooding until my dad died in 1997,and my mother continued to reside there until Hurricane Rita struck, flooding the house because there was no drainage district employee left in Lake Charles to open the flood gates. The house was repaired and restored and my mother moved back in due course where she remained until her death in 2007.
When Hurricane Audry hit in 1957, my sisters were at summer camp, but my parents and I remained in the house quite safe and secure. When the wind quit blowing, my dad said, "Let's go for a drive to see what damage has been done," thinking the hurricane was over. We went for a drive around town taking 8mm home moves and were out on Broad Street around Tom and Mac's when the eye of the hurricane passed and the storm began to blow again. By the time we got back home after some creative maneuvering, it was really blowing and power lines and other usual hurricane damage was everywhere.
The address of the home was originally 1639 Pithon Street. I don't know why it was changed, but it was I think sometime in the early 1960's. After I graduated from high school, my dad built the swimming pool and pool house which I really could have used while was still living there.
The house originally did not have the big back entertainment room with the bar. The back door of the house was the one between the party room and the room behind the kitchen. My dad enclosed the original carport to create the entertainment room and it was well used over the years. It's a great house for raising children and for entertaining. I seriously thought about buying my sister's interests in it after my mother died, but Susan and I certainly do not need a large house geared for those types of activities anymore.
I hope you and your family enjoy the house as much as my family and I did for all the years we lived there and held reunions on special occasions.