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St. James Square / Molaisonville

Marker Name: St. James Square/Molaisonville (different text on each side)
Marker Dedicated: December 7, 2008
Marker Sponsor: Town of Brusly
Marker Location: On the triangle of land at the intersection of Kirkland Drive (River Road) and East Main Street, bordered by Bourg Street, Brusly, LA 707 19.
Marker Text:
Brusly once had a public square carved from four blocks closest to the river. A quarter of each block, at the intersections of Centre (Gwin), St. James and Ambroise Streets, was dedicated to create the square. After several levee setbacks, most of the blocks bordering St. James Square were lost,leaving this triangle of land at the intersection of Bourg and East Main Streets to mark the location.
Jacques Molaison arrived in Louisiana with his family in 1785, settling on a Spanish land grant north of this site. He established a mercantile business and the community that grew around it became known as Molaisonville. An 1854 map shows a layout of the settlement that was incorporated in 1901, eventually becoming the Town of Brusly.

Background: The Town of Brusly, in its 2007-2008 budget, designated funds to recognize St. James Square and Molaisonville. Brusly residents and Town officials gathered on Sunday, December 7th for special events to dedicate a State of Louisiana Historic Marker and to recognize certified Landmark Homes. Ceremonies began with the dedication of the marker at the intersection of East Main Street and Kirkland Drive (River Road). The marker’s text recognized Molaisonville on the north side and St. James Square on the south side. Brusly Mayor Joey Normand welcomed those in attendance, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Shane Sarradet, member of the Brusly Landmark and Heritage Commission. Joanne Bourgeois, Brusly Town Council Member, gave a brief overview of the marker text: Molaisonville, named for Jacques Molaisonville who settled on a Spanish Land Grant in the area of present day Brusly Middle School. The settlement which was named for him is now known as the Town of Brusly; A small triangle of land, bordered by Bourg Street, is all that is left of four blocks of land from which surrounded St. James Square. The blocks, along with the square, were lost to levee setbacks leaving only the triangle. Mayor Normand and Jim Rills, Chairman of the Brusly Landmark & Heritage Commission, unveiled the marker. Jim Owens and Russ Bourgeois read each side of the text. The ceremony ended with Claudette Purnell, member of the Brusly Planning & Zoning Commission, singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Sources of information:

  • Brusly 1901 – 2001: A Place to Call Home; edited by Pamela Folse;
  • Chronicles of West Baton Rouge by Elizabeth Kellough and Leona Mayeux, 1979;
  • Program dedication December 7, 2008;
  • State Historic marker files at West Baton Rouge Museum;
  • Reference files at West Baton Rouge Museum and Library;
  • Conveyance records at WBR Parish Clerk of Court Office;
  • 1854 map by Michael Gill.
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