The Denham Springs Antiques Village hit hard but has rebounded

As late as Thursday, August 11, the merchants of the Denham Springs Antiques Village were still hopeful that the water pooling on Centerville Street would not spread and encroach into the Village, but on Friday those hopes were dashed as the water kept coming.
albyeFriday night Denham Springs Councilwoman Lori Lamm Williams and her family evacuated their home and hunkered down in her shop, LeMeJen, at the corner of Range and Railroad Ave. She kept vigil and emailed updates to other merchants through the night, as the water inched its way down Range Ave., flooding one store after another, until it finally halted just north of Mattie Street, dividing the Village almost in half between flooded and non-flooded stores.
Over the weekend, the water sat stagnant, with nowhere to drain in a city that was almost totally inundated. Three to five or more feet of putrid water remained in some of the shops, saturating and ruining everything it covered. It was Wednesday or Thursday before the flood waters crested and started dropping, allowing merchants to their shops to assess the damages. They were either heartbroken or relieved. The shops from Centerville St. up to The Rusty Rooster, including The Korner Shoppe, Theatre Antiques, Louisiana Purchases, Heirlooms, The Treasure Box, The Copper Hutch and The Bee’s Knees, had taken on about four or five feet of water and were disasters. Of the aforementioned shops, only a few do not plan to return.
A little further down Range Ave., Chandler’s and Mother’s & Daughters and a few others did not get quite as much water and are renovating and planning to reopen in several weeks.
The Rusty Rooster and shops back towards Railroad Ave. were spared; those businesses include Salassi Jewelry, La’ Me Jen, Third Coast Realty, Bayou Backroads, Jake’s Florist, Sublime Salon, Rusty Rooster, Brushfire Art Studio, Whistle Stop/Cafe Dujour, Crowder Antiques, Mockingbird Lane, Benton Brothers Antiques, 201 Antiques, Heritage House, Amy K and Co. Photography, DeLou’s Glass & Gallery Co-op, Cavalier House Books and Old City Hall on Mattie St.. Those merchants gave thanks for their good fortune yet wondered why they were the lucky ones.
The Road to Recovery
Then the hard work began for those who flooded, as mud had to be scraped out, mounds of ruined merchandise piled up several feet high on the sidewalk, the buildings hosed out and treated to prevent mold and mildew. To add insult to injury, many of the owners and vendors were repeating the same arduous, heart-wrenching chores at their homes, as almost all of Denham Springs was underwater, something that has never happened before in the history of the city.
salassiNow, a little more than a month later, there are encouraging signs that show that the antiques district is rebounding. The majority of the shops ARE open. Some of the hardest hit still have weeks if not months of repair and renovation, but they are steadfast in their efforts to rebuild.
The Downtown Merchants Association President Al Bye reported several days ago, “While some of these may be subject to change, this is where renovations presently stand: Bee’s Knees – re-open October 8; Copper Hutch re-open – October 15; Mothers & Daughters re-open – October 15; Theatre Antiques – re-open November 1; Heirlooms – re-open November 1; Chandlers re-open – November 15; La. Purchases – will not reopen; building is for sale; Korner Shoppe, Seldom Seen, and Treasure Box will be rebuilt for new tenants. And, of course, those businesses that did not flood remain open.
Bye and Elvin Watts are co-owners of Theater Antiques, and they never hesitated about making the commitment to rebuild. Like many store owners and homeowners they have worked 10-12 hour days since the flood and are starting to repaint the interior, promising that all new wood and all new paint will make the store better than before. They hope to show the public that the shops are coming back and offer encouragement to the other merchants who are traveling the road to recovery.