THE ACADIAN COTTAGE
STANDARDS: The material in this unit may be used to address the following
Social Studies Standards:
G-1B-E2 G-1D-E1 G-1C-M3 H-1B-E2 H-1D-
G-1C-E2 G-1D-E2 H-1A-E3 H-1C-E2 H-1A-
G-1C-E4 G-1B-M1 H-1B-E1 H-1A-M4
NAME: The Acadian cottage went through several phases of development,
but none of those early houses survive in Louisiana today. Although
the original Acadian immigrants did not live long enough to see the
final generation of houses develop, this dwelling is, by custom,
called an Acadian Cottage.
LOCATION: Areas of Acadian and Cajun settlement in South and Southwest
Louisiana (refer to sections on settlement patterns).
OF THE ACADIAN
COTTAGE: Size: Houses range from small, one room versions to those
moderate in size. (Wealthy Cajuns who wanted larger
homes built in the Creole style).
Height: One-and-one-half stories high (lower floor and
Floor Plan: Rectangular shaped cottages varied in size and
number of rooms according to the prosperity of the
Houses were usually deeper than they were wide.
Single Room + Loft Cottages: One downstairs room
served as family’s living, dining and sleeping quarters,
with sleeping loft for young males above
Multiple Rooms + Loft Cottages: Typically two rooms
wide, accompanied by a front gallery and, perhaps, a
rear cabinet/loggia range. Sleeping loft for young
males continued in use.
Houses lacked hallways and closets.
Gallery: Full front gallery recessed beneath the home’s
Used as outdoor space living.
Some houses have false galleries, i.e., extensions of the
gallery roof similar to visors which protect the
gallery from the sun and rain.
Stairs: Steep staircases are often located on the front
galleries of houses west of the Atchafalaya
River. These lead to an attic loft.
Some resemble ladders and rise in one flight.
Others contain a single turn near the gallery
The houses east of the Atchafalaya River have
steep internal stairs located within a room or on
Scholars speculate as to why Cajuns within
these two areas treated the stairs differently
but have reached no definite conclusion.
Attic Loft: Acadians and their Cajun descendants used
the attics of their cottages as sleeping quarters
for adolescent male family members.
Windows often added to gable ends of the attic
to provide air circulation through the loft.
Cabinet/loggia range in place of rear gallery.
Daughters often slept in the cabinet behind the
Foundation: Consists of solid cypress blocks or drums or (later)
brick piers which raise the house off the ground.
Houses were raised to protect them from termite
damage, rot, and periodic flooding.
Frame: Braced frame, in which vertical posts are supported
by diagonal braces.
Walls: Walls made of bousillage
Bousillage: how it is made
Bousillage: finished wall
Exposed interior bousillage walls often whitewashed.
Bousillage often left exposed and then whitewashed
on front exterior wall because gallery protected it from
Side and rear exterior walls covered by overlapping
weather boards applied horizontally. These were
Openings: The number of openings and the quality of their
coverings varied according to the size of the house
and the prosperity of the owner.
Doors: Early small Acadian cottages had two exterior
doors (front and rear) usually made of heavy
planks called battens.
Later and larger Acadian cottages had two or
more sets of French doors opening to the
Windows: Early cottages had only a few unglazed
windows covered by wooden shutters.
As access to glass became more common,
casement windows became popular.
In the nineteenth century, may casement
windows were replaced by sash windows.
Roof: Preferred steeply pitched gable end roof covering
entire house and gallery.
Chimney: In single room houses, the chimney was located on
an outside wall.
In multiple room houses (with side-by-side or back-to-
back room arrangements), the chimney was placed
within the house so that it could be shared by back-to-
In early and more primitive houses, the chimney was
constructed of mud, moss, and sticks. Brick was used
for chimneys once that material becomes available.
Because of the replacement of mud and stick
chimneys by brick, few of the former survive.
Mantel: Cottages either lacked mantels or had very plan
mantels. Some mantels wrapped around the chimney
flue in the French Creole manner.
Floor: Cypress planks
Furnishings: Most Acadians and their Cajun descendants practiced
a simple life style and held non-materialistic values.
As a result, most cottages had little or no
ornamentation and were furnished sparingly.
The typical early, small cottage might have one or two
beds with mosquito netting, a wash stand, a table, a
few rough chairs, and a small wooden chest to store
clothing and valuables.
More prosperous farmers or cattlemen might also
have an armoire and/or dresser.
Examples: Eastern Acadian Cottage, Ascension Parish
Eastern Acadian Cottage, Bayou Lafourche Region
Western Acadian Cottage, Cankton, St. Landry Parish
Unidentified Eastern Acadian Cottage
Eastern Acadian Cottage #1, Labidieville, Lafourche
Eastern Acadian Cottage #2, Labidieville, Lafourche
Pre-restoration Western Acadian Cottage,
Vermillionville, Lafayette Parish
Rear cabinet/loggia range, Defosse House, Avoyelles
Interior stair, Unidentified Acadian Cottage
NOTE: All examples are courtesy of Dr. Jay Edwards, Fred B. Kniffen Cultural
Resources Lab, Department of Geography & Anthropology, Louisiana State University,
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In some cases complete building identification is unavailable.