Normal Hill, the oldest part of the Northwestern campus, is the longest continuously occupied site in Louisiana for higher education. As the college grew and the campus expanded, many historic events have happened and been documented by various plaques and markers. This collection presents them along with descriptive materials on their origins and importance.
Colonial Gateway Corral
Metal plaque installed on the Northwestern campus April 11, 1970 by the Louisiana Tourism Commission:
Colonial Gateway Corral
First Sighted by St. Denis and Bienville in 1700, this hill was later St. Denis’ vacherie. Here three paths met. From the Spanish West came cattle and horses; eastward were his home and the route of flatboats to New Orleans. A road wound North to the fort.
The plaque was dedicated April 11, 1970 by the Natchitoches Chapter. Restoration in 2020 was supported by the Cane River National Heritage Area, The Northwestern State Student Government Council and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
Colonial Dames XVII Century
The Alumni Plaza was established as a permanent tribute to those whose paths led them to and through Northwestern. Contributions from alumni and friends made it possible to provide this commemorative area for men and women whose lives have been touched and enriched by this great university.
Randall J. Webb, President
NSU Alumni Association
Dedicated October 27, 2006
Conception: William E. Brent | Design: Larry Richards AIA/IA
Memory of Rebel Hall
DEDICATED TO MEMORY OF REBEL HALL
So warmly remembered by its residents, who enjoyed such carefree days and lasting friendships.
As Others read this plaque, may they also be reminded that upon this location the legacy of Northwestern was passed on to those that follow
October 22, 1994
Bronze place dedicated on October 6,1984 as part of the Centennial Celebration of Northwestern State University. The base was constructed of bricks from the Caldwell Hall, the oldest building on the campus when it burned in 1982. The base was donated by the Interfraternity Council and is noted on an attached plaque.
THE CENTENNIAL PLAQUE
THE CENTENNIAL OF NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY WAS COMMEMORATED BY THE INSTALLATION OF THIS PLAQUE ON OCTOBER 6, 1984, THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CHARTERING OF THE INSTITUTION
THE BASE IS CONSTRUCTED OF BRICKS FROM CALDWELL HALL, BUILT IN 1906, WHICH AT THE TIME OF ITS DESTRUCTION BY FIRE IN 1982 WAS THE OLDEST BUILDING ON CAMPUS.
Plaque on base reads:
BASE PRESENTED BY
Sibley Drive Plaque
Plaque dedicated in 1947 naming Sibley Drive in honor of Sam J. Sibley.
HONORING SAM J. SIBLEY WHO SERVED NORTHWESTERN STATE COLLEGE OF LOUISIANA THROUGH THE YEARS
1920 – 1947
Plaque dedicated during the Vietnam War to prisoners of war and missing in action and placed at the base of a live oak on the campus.
THE FREEDOM TREE
WITH THE VISION OF UNIVERSAL FREEDOM FOR ALL MANKIND
THIS TREE IS DEDICATED TO THE POW/ MIA’S OF LOUISIANA
AND ALL PRISONERS OF WAR AND MISSING IN ACTION.
Normal Hill Plaque
Poem written by Dr. Ralph Ropp in 1940 about Normal Hill, the original site of Louisiana State Normal School, later to become Northwestern State University.
OLD NORMAL HILL
THERE’S A LONG WINDING ROAD WE CAN GO ON THE WAY UP TO OLD NORMAL HILL A ROAD THAT WAS CROWDED LONG AGO THERE ARE THOUSANDS WHO FOLLOW IT STILL.
THERE IS A BANNER OF PURPLE AND WHITE WE PROUDLY HOLD UP ABOVE THERE’S A FIELD WHERE THE BRAVE DEMONS FIGHT TO GLORIFY SOMETHING THEY LOVE.
THERE’S A POTPOURRI FILLED WITH FACES OF FRIENDS WHO HAVE COME AND GONE THERE ARE MEMORIES OF DEAR OLD PLACES THAT LINGER AS THE YEARS ROLL ON.
THEN HERE’S TO THE PURPLE AND WHITE AND HERE’S TO THE DEMONS SO TRUE MAY THE YEARS EVER BRIGHTEN THE LIGHT ON THESE MEMORIES FOR ME AND FOR YOU.
Written in 1940 by Dr. Ralph L. Ropp. Professor English and Speech; Debate Coach. 1926-1949
The columns were once part of the Bullard Mansion, built in 1832 and demolished in 1904. The Bullard Mansion was the first building at the State Normal School, and the three standing columns that commemorate it have been adopted as the official symbol of Northwestern State University.
REMNANTS OF THE BULLARD MANSION. AS EARLY AS 1856 THE BUILDING WAS USED AS A CONVENT. SINCE 1884 TRADITIONAL TO NORTHWESTERN STATE COLLEGE.
PRESENTED BY CLASS OF 1950-51
St. Denis Homesite
Plaque mounted on rock at the top of Normal Hill. The site was on the right front side of Caldwell Hall, built in 1905 and destroyed by fire in 1982.
SITE OF THE HOME OF ST. DENIS
MARKED BY SUMMER CLASS
During the early days of the settlement of the United States, Louisiana consisted of the land between Canada and Mexico, bounded on the east by Carolina.
The French, who then owned Louisiana, had heard that the Spaniards from Mexico intended on taking possession of this region. To prevent Spanish interference, in 1714 Lamothe Cadillac, governor of Louisiana, sent Juchereau de St. Denis, a dashing adventurer, with a band of Canadian Indians, to place a garrison at Natchitoches. The was the first permanent settlement within the present limits of Louisiana.
St. Denis, who had not yet satisfied his longings for risk and daring, set out with a few companions into Mexico to see the possibilities of development of trade with that province. Spanish authorities had refused to allow French agents to enter Mexico; consequently, St. Denis was seized and sent to Mexico City and finally allowed to return to Mobile, after two years’ absence.
On a map of Natchitoches, the old French post was noted with a spot marked “habitation.” This spot corresponds almost exactly to the location found by surveyors who drew lines along the river and in Natchitoches to determine the site of St. Denis’ home. This was considered sufficient proof, and a rock was placed on the spot under the arbor in front of Caldwell Hall to mark the place where once lived the man who led such an adventurous life; who, in an effort to protect his country’s interests, established a post, the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase. We are proud of the rock that reminds us of St. Denis, founder of Natchitoches.
Potpourri — 1929