In the over 130 years of Northwestern, the presidents have lived in three residences on the campus.
The First House
The original house had historical importance long before it became the residence of the President of the State Normal School in 1888. Before and during the Mexican War, it was in all probability the headquarters of General U.S. Grant and Zachary Taylor, both later to be President of the United States. The story also has that Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were visitors before the Mexican War and were domiciled in the old house.
Tradition was in 1839 General U.S. Grant made the kitchen his headquarters.
During the Civil War, the old post came into the limelight, this time as a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers. The Sacred Hearts nun at the old convent here nursed many of the wounded Grey-clad soldiers of the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill back to health.
In 1888, after the property was purchased by the state and the State Normal School was established here, Colonel Thomas D. Boyd, then head of the school, remodeled the old house, and since that time was the residence of the presidents of the college, Colonel Boyd, B.C. Caldwell, James B. Aswell and V.L. Roy.
The mantelpiece in the bedroom, in which the historic figures of the Mexican and Civil Wars are said to have slept during their stay at the Army Post here, has been presented to Mrs. J. H. Henry of Melrose to be placed among other antebellum relics in the quaint adobe house which was used during the Civil War as a hospital for slaves and which is now known as the “Author’s Home on her plantation.
The Second House
The original residence was disassembled and a new home was constructed for the President of Louisiana State Normal College in 1927. A freestanding garage was a part of the construction project.
The home and garage were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
The structure was the residence of the college president until 1971 when a new home was constructed on the campus facing Chaplin’s Lake.
The Home Economics Department utilized the building as the Home Management House, a laboratory for students in the program. That use ceased in 1984.
Following extensive interior renovations, the old President’s Home became the Alumni Center and office of the Northwestern State University Foundation, which it continues to be today.
The Present Home
Natchitoches architects, Oscar G. Butler and E.P. Dobson, designed the one and one-half story structure. Construction was completed in 1970.
Dr. Arnold Kilpatrick and his family were the first to occupy the new residence. Since then four other presidents have lived here.
Funds for the home were obtained from revenues generated by oil and gas holdings at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. Presidents’ residences at a number of Louisiana universities were constructed or renovated with those revenues that were earmarked for the specific purpose of building and maintaining homes for presidents of state colleges.
There are a number of antique furniture pieces in the house, including the needlepoint table in the foyer, the dining set and the guest bedroom suite. Some of the antiques were moved to the President’s Residence from the Fine Arts Building constructed with Public Works Administration funding in the late 1930’s.
The residence has been named the Arnold R. Kilpatrick Presidential Residence, in memory of the former president.