Historic Name: Carter House
Address: 1.5 miles SW of Hammond on Happywoods Road
Status: National Register
Date Placed on National Register: 8/11/1992
Level of Significance: Local
Area of Significance: Communications, Education, Politics/Government
Property Type: Urban Residence
Architectural Style: Bungalow/Craftsman
Theme: Local History
The Carter House (c.1925) is a two-story frame house built “along bungalow lines.” It is located in a rural setting near Hammond. The house has been altered very little since its construction, and consequently it still conveys the full measure of its historical associations.
The large two-story clapboard house has a hall-less plan, two rooms wide and three rooms deep. There is also a sun room on the side with a sleeping porch above. In addition, there are single story porches front and rear. The multiple hip roof features a pyramid dormer ventilator. The interiors are plain, featuring a single brick mantel and glass doors between the rooms. With only a few exceptions, the sash mounted windows are set in groups of two or three. The main entrance door has a plate glass transom and side lights. The only noteworthy exterior feature is the front porch with its massive brick end piers and its two central Doric columns on brick bases.
Assessment of Integrity:
Since the house was built the following changes have been made:
(1) The front and rear porches have been screened-in.
(2) The rear second story window was replaced with a door and a rear exterior staircase was constructed.
These changes are minor and, of course, the screening and staircase are easily reversible.
Specific dates House built c.1925
Will Carter’s period of significance: 1925
Hodding Carter’s period of significance: 1932
Builder/Architect Builder: Will Carter
Statement of Significance (in one paragraph)
The Carter House is locally significant in the following respects:
(1) It is significant in the area of education because of its close association
with Will Carter, one of the founders of Southeastern College (presently the University of Southeastern Louisiana). Will Carter built the house c.1925 and lived there until his death in 1953
(2) It is significant in the areas of communications and politics/ government
because Will Carter’s Pulitzer Prize winning son, Hodding Carter, lived there in 1932 when he founded the Hammond Daily Courier, which proved to be a relentless local foe of Huey Long
The house is being nominated for significance on the local level for the following reasons:
(1) Will Carter was locally prominent and Southeastern College was (and is) a
locally important school (regionally significant within the state).
(2) Although Hodding Carter rose to national prominence later in his life, his
activities while living in the nominated property were only locally significant. Huey Long was a national figure, but the Daily Courier was only a local foe of the Long faction (within the context of Tangipahoa Parish).
ASSOCIATIONS WITH WILL CARTER:
As noted above, Will Carter built the house c.1925 and resided there until his death in 1953. According to his daughter, he was living in the house in 1925 when he helped found Southeastern College (now the University of Southeastern of Louisiana). He was also a member of the first Board of Trustees. The school has grown considerably from a two-year junior college with an enrollment of 40 in 1925 to its present status as a regionally important university with a student body of approximately 8,000 (which is more than half the size of the population of the city of Hammond, where the school is located). Hence, in the opinion of the State Historic Preservation Office, the primary residence of one of its founders merits listing on the National Register with a designation of local significance in the area of education.
There is only one other extant property in Hammond associated with Will Carter. Before he built the present house, he lived within the Hammond city limits for about 10 years (c.1915-c.1925) so his children could attend public school. In the opinion of the State Historic Preservation Office, this residence is not as eligible as the one being nominated because Carter lived there a shorter period of time and his residency there did not coincide with his contributions in the area of education (or apparently any other contributions).
ASSOCIATIONS WITH HODDING CARTER:
Will Carter’s son, Hodding Carter, achieved prominence on the national level as a liberal, crusading journalist. He was born in Hammond in 1907 and lived there until he graduated from Hammond High School in 1923. He then attended Bowdoin College in Maine and received his B. A. in 1927. After completing a degree in journalism at Columbia in 1928, he became a teaching fellow in the English department at Tulane. He then worked as a reporter for the New Orleans Item, night bureau chief for the United Press in New Orleans, and bureau chief for the Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1932 he and his wife returned to Hammond and began the Daily Courier. Since they could not afford a place of their own, the couple lived with his parents in the house being nominated from early 1932 until late 1932 when they acquired a residence of their own. (This house is extant and is discussed elsewhere.)
The fact that the house under consideration was Carter’s residence when he founded the Daily Courier and got it on its feet is important and certainly adds to the property’s significance. The Daily Courier was not just any newspaper. Carter used its editorial page to gain a reputation as a relentless foe of Huey Long, whom he vehemently denounced as a power hungry and ruthless dictator. As Carter wrote in his autobiography, hardly a day passed without a critical editorial on Long in the Courier. Given the fact that Hammond was the biggest town in the parish and that the Courier was the town’s only daily newspaper, it is obvious that Carter’s paper was an important political voice in the parish during the period.
Long retaliated against such opposition in the summer of 1935 with a new state public printing law, which stated that any selection of a newspaper as the official journal of a city, a school board, a parish or other political subdivision must be approved by a State Printing Board. The Courier was at that time the official journal for Hammond, the parish, and one or two other bodies. However, the newly created State Printing Board, wrote Carter in his autobiography, “advised” the several political bodies involved that the Courier was not “approved.”
Hodding Carter again lived in the nominated property from early 1935 until the fall of 1936. In 1936 he sold the Courier and moved to Greenville, Mississippi and began the Delta Star in competition with an established paper which he was able to purchase in 1938 to form the Delta Democrat-Times. It was here that Carter rose to national prominence and in 1946 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for editorials attacking religious and racial intolerance. He, however, did not forget the town of his childhood and early journalistic career. He celebrated Hammond in stories, articles, and books. For example, his autobiography, Where Main Street Meets the River, contains many such reminiscences.
In addition to being a journalist, Carter was also a historian, a novelist, and a poet, having published biographies, histories of the lower Mississippi Valley, two novels, and one collection of poems. He died in 1972.
There are two other extant properties in Hammond associated with Hodding Carter. The residence previously described was his home from the age of about 8 to 18. Of course, this was a nonproductive period in his life. The other is a small cottage where he and his wife lived from late 1932, when they moved from the nominated property, to early 1935, when they returned to live with his parents. It was, however, while living in the nominated property that he founded the Courier and began his campaign against Long.
In summary, based upon the combined strength of the above associations with Will and Hodding Carter, the State Historic Preservation Office feels that his property merits listing on the National Register. It is also important to note that it is this house which is locally referred to as the Carter House and linked with these two individuals, not either of the other two mentioned above.
Carter, Hodding. Where Main Street Meets the River. New York: Rinehart and Company, Inc., 1952.
Tangipahoa Crossings: Excursions into Tangipahoa History. Baton Rouge: Moran Publishing Corporation, 1979.
Obituary. Will Carter. Newspaper unidentified. August 19, 1953. Clipping located in Carter House National Register File, State Historic Preservation Office
Obituary. Hodding Carter. Newspaper unidentified. April 5, 1972. Clipping located in Carter House National Register File, State Historic Preservation Office.
Title Abstract on Carter House. Located in Carter House National Register File, State Historic Preservation Office.
Southern Writers: A Biographical Dictionary. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1979.
Interviews with Betty Werlein Carter, widow of Hodding Carter.
Ingram, Lawrence Franklin. “Hodding Carter Rebels.” M.A. Thesis, Southeastern Louisiana College, 1968.
Interview with Mrs. Isadore Syer, daughter of Will Carter.
Carroll, Eldridge. “History of S. L. C. Compiled by One Who Helped to Start It.” Hammond Vindicator, August 19, 1955.
Carroll, Eldridge. “Second Article on History of Southeastern Written by Hammondite.” Hammond Vindicator, August 26, 1955.