Old Mandeville Business Association (OMBA) is a non-profit organization made up of a network of businesses in the Old Mandeville area and resident members which share the same commitment to serve, support, and advance the interests of local commerce while remaining true to the unique, soulful spirit of the Old Mandeville community.
Bernard Phillipe Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville was already a successful New Orleans and later north shore developer and land speculator — he was living on his plantation that is now Fontainebleau State Park — when he struck a deal and purchased the rugged property that would become the core of the City of Mandeville.
We now refer to it as Old or Historic Old Mandeville, but it was rugged property with an expansive frontage along Lake Pontchartrain when Bernard de Marigny acquired it. He envisioned it as the nucleus of a settlement and set about to plat what became city blocks and even designed and named the streets.
Then, during two public auctions in 1834, he sold most of the lots in the area now bounded by Jackson Avenue on the east, Carroll Street to the west, and Monroe to the north. Many of the lots were purchased by wealthy Creoles who had built the Garden District of New Orleans; free men of color. They in turn sold them to others making a nice profit on their investments.
Development came rapidly and by 1840 the Louisiana legislature approved the incorporation of the Town of Mandeville. If you are going to buy all the land, divide it up into blocks, create the streets and sell it to home buyers, then why not name it for yourself when it becomes time to incorporate? Today Mandeville is a city of some 11,500 according to the 2010 census and it's borders stretch from Castine Bayou on the east to the Beau Chene subdivision entrance on the west.
As expected, Mandeville initially developed in the area we now call Old Mandeville with a police station on Jefferson Street, a post office in what is now an art gallery beside Nuvolari’s, a bank in a building now housing Scott’s Coffee & Tapas Bar, a drug store in a demolished building where Barley Oak now sits and the village’s lone doctor’s office in the building that is now Broken Egg.
Marigny himself built one of the first structures in Old Mandeville and constructed it for his father. It is the building that is now the Lakehouse Restaurant and it is believed that on the balcony of this building Marigny introduced to America and French gambling game of chance with dice that became known in the United States as Craps.
Although in the early years, Mandeville, with its easy access to the lake, was somewhat of a fishing village, it soon became a resort destination. By the early to mid-19th century, steamship ships were making daily excursions from Milenberg (now West End) in New Orleans to Mandeville where a large public pier near the Lakehouse building extended into the lake.
Wealthy investors had begun building large raised building across the lakefront, many of them serving as resort cottages and hotels.
One of the important natural attributes that led to this development was the creation of Marigny himself who, in laying out his city, decreed that a green buffer of land shall forever separate any roadway (now Lakeshore Drive) from the edge of the lake itself. That edict of course prevented buildings popping up at water’s edge and has provided the city with what is still the largest unimpeded vista of Lake Pontchartrain of any north shore location.
With the steamships, came New Orleans musicians that were developing a brand new kind of American music--traditional or Dixieland or New Orleans Jazz. It was first heard in the city around 1895 about the same time an unimposing small wooden building was constructed at 430 Lamarque Street. That building, still standing and virtually unchanged in 118 years, is now regarded among music scholars and fans worldwide as one of the most important shrines anywhere to early jazz. It was here in the early 1900s that now recognized musical icons such as Kid Ory, Bunk Johnson, Buddy Petit, George Lewis, Louis Armstrong and Papa Celestin came over on the steamers to play their music in that building now known as the Dew Drop Social & Benevolent Jazz Hall and it is on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 2000 it has re-opened after being closed since 1940 and is operated and maintained for the city by the non-profit Friends of the Dew Drop offering live music each fall and spring. At one time Mandeville was home to an important college prep school called the Harvey School.
But from its creation by Bernard de Marigny up to the mid-1950s Mandeville remained a small town or village hugging the lake shoreline.
That was destined to change. In 1956 the first span of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway opened followed in 1969 by the second span. Those spans, still the longest uninterrupted span bridge in the world. brought scores of new residents to the north shore and soon triggered a dramatic growth of Mandeville west past what is now Causeway Boulevard.
Mandeville is the home of TV actor Ian Somethalder, Wilco bassist John Stiratt and the rock band 12 Stones. Singer songwriter Lucinda Williams, once lived in Mandeville, has memorialized the city in her popular song (also a hit for Emmylou Harris) called Crescent City, with the line, “mama lived in Mandeville.”
Relocate America has named Mandeville one of the top places in the U.S. to live in its annual surveys of American cities for 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and in 2013 Mandeville was named a top award winner in the Google ECity contest as one of the most active American cities where small businesses effectively use the Internet as a vital business tool.
Mandeville is also home to the certified oldest live oak in the nation with Seven Sisters Oak in west Mandeville.
With 6.8 square miles and the most impressive lake vista in the area, it seems fitting that the city bills itself as Mandeville On The Lake.