The community of Cecilia & Grand Anse
Early settlers spoke only French and today, Creole French is still spoken in the area. Cecilia is home to many different artists including musicians, visual artists, sculptors, and more. There are two music recording studios, traditional Cajun cuisine plate lunches served at local grocery stores, a meat market located in a historical dance hall and an Open Air Market on the second Saturday of the month from April through December. The Atelier de la Nature Reserve is located in the Cecilia community where art and nature education is featured along with a Spring and Fall Festival hosted at the Reserve.
In June 2018, Cecilia was formally recognized by the State of Louisiana's Office of Cultural Development as the Cecilia et Les Alentours Cultural District. The name means "Cecilia and the Surrounding Area." The District quickly implemented a Celebrate Cecilia campaign to begin recognizing the artistic and cultural talent who grew up and/or still live in the Cecilia and Grand Anse community. To learn more about the Cecilia et Les Alentours Cultural District, go to https://www.facebook.com/CelebrateCecilia/
February - French Antilles Young Adult Mask Making Workshop (FREE); 4pm – 7pm; Cecilia Library
2nd Saturday from April – December – Cecilia Open MarketApril 13
Cecilia Open Market begins through December
Atelier de la Nature – Fete de la Nature Spring Event
April 27 – Spring Concert feature Steve Davidson from Argenta, Arkansas;
6:30 – 8:30pm
June - Bug Camp; Atelier de la Nature Reserve
October – Atelier Halloween & Nature Festival; 11am – 5pm; Atelier de la Nature Reserve
December – Celebrate Cecilia a Noel
Day of Music – Parish wide (Date to be Determined)
Cecilia was originally known by the Spanish as La Punta, describing a deep bend in Bayou Teche. This was translated by the French into La Grande Pointe, a name that was used by many people until modern times when it was then called Cecilia, named after the first postal clerk. The community began as a small service center of sorts for the many landowners in outlying areas. As more settlers populated the land along the northern Bayou Teche, the need grew for easier access to religious services, education, and trade. It was because of these basic needs that the community became more than a crossover on the bayou trail between Opelousas and St. Martinville,
Pierre Guidry, the first settler of Cecilia, acquired three tracts of land from Mrs. Joseph Alexander Declouet in 1791. Joseph Angelle settled nearby soon after.
Both men apparently settled on lands that had been given to Declouet by a Spanish land grant dated May 16, 1772, that included some 2,600 acres (11 km2) of land.
Grover Rees I, in his history of Breaux Bridge, describes Guidry's land as "fronting 50 arpents on Bayou Teche and 50 arpents deep, for which he agreed to deliver in payment 100 bulls." Guidry married three times and fathered 20 children, many of whom remained in the area and established their own farms.
There was a chapel at La Grande Pointe sometime after 1874. Some sources say that it was named for St. Etienne, but that is not a certainty. In January 1889, Father Borias of Breaux Bridge wrote that "the chapel was originally located about midway between the Four Corners and Grand Anse area, but later was moved closer to what is now Cecilia." A church parish was created at Cecilia in 1890 and Rev. Augustin Blanc became first pastor. He would serve there for more than 38 years. St. Rose of Lima Church was established there for the African American congregation in 1944.
There are several stories about how the place was named Cecilia, the most accepted being that it was named for Cecilia Lastrappes, the first postmistress there.
Located 4 miles south of Arnaudville, Louisiana on property originally owned by Martin Milony Duralde, a French Basque native of Aix Les Bains, Bayonne Biscaye, France who arrived in Louisiana in 1769, lies the Stephanie Plantation House. Duralde moved to the property in 1781 and lived in a log cabin on the banks of Bayou Teche until the house was built. He was appointed Commandant of the Opelousas Post in 1795 by Baron de Carondelet, Spanish Governor of Colonial Louisiana. After his death in 1822, the property was sold to a fellow Basque Charles Henri Lastrapes, the wealthiest man in southwest Louisiana at that time, who expanded the holdings to some 50,000 acres. In 1882, in a bankruptcy sale, the property was sold to a New Orleans cotton factor. In 1889 the Huran Planting Co. obtained Stephanie. The house changed hands several times before its recent purchase by the Kidder family in 1997.