Abbeville, Louisiana

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Abbeville, Louisiana
The Big Ville
St. Mary Magdalene Church abbeville.jpg
Country United States
State Louisiana
Parish Vermilion
Elevation 16 ft (4.9 m)
Coordinates 29°58′21″N 92°07′45″W / 29.97250°N 92.12917°W / 29.97250; -92.12917Coordinates: 29°58′21″N 92°07′45″W / 29.97250°N 92.12917°W / 29.97250; -92.12917
Area 5.7 sq mi (14.8 km2)
 - land 5.7 sq mi (15 km2)
 - water 0.0 sq mi (0 km2), 0%
Population 12,257 (2010)
Density 2,104.3/sq mi (812.5/km2)
Incorporated 1850
Mayor Mark F. Piazza
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 70510, 70511
Area code 337
Location of Abbeville in Louisiana
Location of Louisiana in the United States
For other communities of the same name, see Abbeville (disambiguation).

Abbeville is a small city in and the parish seat of Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, United States,[1][2] 150 miles (240 km) west of New Orleans and 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Baton Rouge.[3] It is the principal city of the Abbeville Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Vermilion Parish. It is also part of the larger LafayetteAcadiana Combined Statistical Area. The population was 12,257 at the 2010 census.[4]


Père Antoine Désiré Mégret

Formerly called La Chapelle, the land that was to become Abbeville was purchased by founding father Père Antoine Désiré Mégret (Père is French for 'Father'), a Capuchin missionary, on July 25, 1843, for $900. There are two theories as to how the town was named. The theory that was generally accepted as correct states that Mégret named the town after his home in France. The second theory that cannot be discounted states that it was a combination of "Abbe" for Abbé Mégret and "ville" the French word for town – thus Abbé's town. Some support for the second theory could be found in the fact that the town in France is pronounced "Abbville" by its denizens. However, in 1995, Fr. Jean Desobry discovered in the diocesan archives of Amiens the proof of Mégret's birthplace. In the archive was found the dossier of Fr. Antoine Jacques Désiré Mégret, and that he was born on May 23, 1797, at Abbeville and was to become founder of Abbeville in Louisiana.[5] Dr Mary-Theresa MacCarthy states in her article Un Autre Abbeville in the 1996 edition of Bulletin de la Société des Antiquaires de Picardie (translation by Father Herbert),

On February 12, 1844, the pastor gave to his American town the name of the town of his birth. The residents find this name especially fitting because of the French word abbé which means father [or priest] added to the French word ville [which means town]. Their Abbeville is truly la ville de l'abbé [the priest's town].[5]

The residents that settled the town were descendants of the Acadians from Nova Scotia that had moved to the area around 1766 to 1775. It was incorporated in 1850.[3] There were two people living on the land at that time, Joseph LeBlanc and his wife Isabelle Broussard, whose former home Father Megret converted into a chapel. The chapel burned in 1854, and St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church now stands at the same location.[6][better source needed]

Father Megret modeled his original plan for the village after a French Provincial village. In a map he made in 1846, the town was 38 to 40 acres (160,000 m2) in size. It was bounded on the north by St. Victor Boulevard, on the south by Lafayette Boulevard, on the east by "the Sisters of Charity," and on the west by Bayou Vermilion. At this point in time the town was called “Abbville”.

At the center of downtown is Magdalen Square, which is accented by large oak trees, a fountain, and gazebo. A statue in memory of Father Megret stands in the square. Megret's Chapel was destroyed by fire in 1854, and in its place, in 1910, was built St. Mary Magdalen Church.[2] In 1856, the Last Island Hurricane destroyed every building in the town.[citation needed]


Abbeville is located at 29°58′31.422″N 92°7′37.7652″W / 29.97539500°N 92.127157000°W / 29.97539500; -92.127157000[7] and has an elevation of 16 feet (4.9 m).[8]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.7 square miles (14.7629 km2), of which, 5.7 square miles (15 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.53%) is water.

Abbeville is the southern terminus of U.S. Highway 167. Abbeville Municipal Airport is in the eastern part of the town. The Vermilion River runs through downtown, and numerous canals and coulies go through other parts of Abbeville.


The Southern Pacific Railroad has a route through the town, which helped bring the freight and produce that was produced locally to market.[3]

The Freshwater Bayou Deepwater Channel connects Abbeville to the Gulf of Mexico,[2] and the Intracoastal Waterway runs just south of the city.[9]


Abbeville is an agricultural trade and processing center for rice, sugarcane, dairy products, and seafood, in particular crawfish, alligator, and crab.[9][10] The oil and natural gas fields off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico are serviced by companies throughout the region, Abbeville included.[2] Chemical products and some consumer goods are manufactured locally.[9] It also is an important producer of the aforementioned sugarcane and rice, along with cotton and locally sold corn. Within the city is a large open-kettle sugarcane syrup mill.[3][9]


Climate data for Abbeville, Louisiana
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 63.9
Average low °F (°C) 43.2
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.1
Source: Weatherbase [11]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 545
1880 255 −53.2%
1890 637 149.8%
1900 1,536 141.1%
1910 2,907 89.3%
1920 3,461 19.1%
1930 4,356 25.9%
1940 6,672 53.2%
1950 9,338 40.0%
1960 10,414 11.5%
1970 10,996 5.6%
1980 12,391 12.7%
1990 11,187 −9.7%
2000 11,887 6.3%
2010 12,257 3.1%
Est. 2015 12,434 [12] 1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
St. Mary Magdalen Church

As of the census of 2000, there were 11,887 people, 4,698 households, and 3,014 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,027.7 people per square mile (805.2/km²). There were 5,257 housing units at an average density of 907.3 per square mile (350.2/km²).[14][15][16]

The ethnic makeup of the Abbeville was 54.29% White, 38.56% African American, 0.19% Native American, 5.50% Asian, 0.39% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.93% of the population. In 2000, 76.0% of the population over the age of five spoke English at home, 16.5% of the population spoke French or Cajun, and 5.5% spoke Vietnamese.[17]

There were 4,698 households out of which 60.34% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.35% were married couples living together, 24.44% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.72% were non-families. 31.55% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.32% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.20.[15]

The population was 28.74% under the age of 18, 9.55% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.57% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.6 years. For every 100 females there were 86.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.98 males.[14] The median household income was $29,202, and the median family income was $37,197. Males had a median income of $33,985 versus $19,258 for females. The per capita income was $17,546. About 23.0% of families and 24.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.7% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.[18]

In 2010 Abbeville had a population of 12,257. The racial and ethnic makeup of the population was 50.4% non-Hispanic white, 41.0% black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 5.2% Asian, 1.5% non-Hispanic of some other race, 2.0% reporting two or more races and 3.1% Hispanic or Latino.[19]


The City of Abbeville is served by the Vermilion Parish School District, and these are the public and Parochial schools that are located within Abbeville boundaries:[20]

  • Elementary Schools
    • Eaton Park Elementary
    • Herod Elementary
    • Mount Carmel Elementary School (Parochial) (Grades PK–8)
  • Middle Schools
    • J.H.Williams Middle School
  • High Schools

National Guard[edit]

Abbeville is the home of HHC (headquarters company), 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry (mech.), of the Louisiana Army National Guard. The 2nd Battalion served with the 256th Infantry Brigade ("The Tiger Brigade") during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004–2005.


Abbeville is home to multiple festivals:

  • Daylily Festival and Garden Show
  • Giant Omelette Celebration
  • Les Lumieres du Village d'Abbeville
  • Louisiana Cattle Festival
  • Vermilion Carousel of Arts

Avery Island, which contains a bird sanctuary and a salt dome, is 24 kilometres (15 mi) southeast of town.[2] Just east of town in Erath, is the Acadian Museum, and the Abbey Players' Theater is located in town.[9]

Historic buildings[edit]

Abbeville is home to numerous historic buildings that have been periodically added to the National Historic Register. Starting in 1987, the Abbeville Commercial Historic District, in the area surrounded by Concord, State, Lafayette, and Jefferson Streets, was added to the register. That same year, the Abbeville Residentail Historic District was created between W. Oak, State, Cherry, and the Vermilion River. St. Mary Magdalen Church, Rectory, and the Cemetery were added the following year. In the 1990s, the Ovide Broussard House, Chauviere House, Gordy House, Lyons House, and the Caldwell House were all added, in addition to the Downtown Abbeville Historic District, which is bounded by State, 1st, Pere Megret, and Concord St and the Vermilion Bayou. Finally, just before the turn of the century, the Richard Cattle Auction Barn and the St. Mary Congregational Church were both added. In the vicinity, just north of town is A La Bonne Veillee which was added back in 1984.[21]

Notable residents[edit]


The 1988 remake of the 1958 film The Blob was filmed in Abbeville.

Robert J. Flaherty chose Abbeville in 1948 as his base of operations during the filming of Louisiana Story. He rented a house in the current downtown area for 15 months over 1946–47.

Abbeville is one of the main locations in the TV Series True Detective.



External links[edit]