Courtesy Natchitoches CVB
If Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory, seems familiar, it’s probably because Natchitoches — pronounced “Nack-a-tish” — has been the location for “Steel Magnolias,” “The Man in the Moon” and a number of other movies.
Stately columns and wrought-iron balconies embody the architecture found in the city’s 33-block National Historic Landmark District, which culminates in a restaurant- and boutique-lined thoroughfare on the Cane River Lake waterfront.
But don’t be fooled by Natchitoches’ historic feel. There are big-city, state-of-the-art projects in the works.
“The wonderful thing about Natchitoches is we’ve managed to retain not only our history and charm, but also install these fabulous projects,” said Iris Harper, executive director of the Natchitoches Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
The $25 million, 27,500-square-foot Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame will open next year on Front Street in the downtown historic district. The modern museum will have rooms for meetings, or the venue could be used for receptions or galas, Harper said.
Although it’s too early for details, Harper also expects crews to break ground early next year on an 80-room hotel in the historic district. Natchitoches Parish has about 1,000 hotel rooms and another 125 rooms in bed-and-breakfast inns.
The new hotel will be an asset for meeting business, Harper said, because it will be directly across the street from the Natchitoches Events Center. Currently, most Natchitoches hotels are on the city’s outskirts, near Interstate 49.
The Natchitoches Events Center has nearly 40,000 square feet of space for events and meetings, including a 15,000-square-foot exhibit hall .
In 2014, the city will commemorate its tricentennial with events, celebrations and living-history reenactments throughout the year.
“It would be a great time to visit because groups could schedule a meeting around different things going on in the community,” Harper said.