Keachi is considered one of
richest treasuries of Greek Revival structures, like this wonderful old
sentinel downtown, used as a studio by artist Travis Whitfield.
This town of less than 400,
has 11 listings on the National Register of Historic Places.
Keachi is known for its
pristine white churches, and for its picturesque old fashioned festivals – at
Halloween and the 4th of July, and spectacular Christmas Musicale –
a chamber quartet with classical music and carols performed in a bandstand of red
poinsettias in the Presbyterian church.
One of the first buildings
erected in Keatchie was Good Hope Baptist church in 1852. It had 18 members. With the church was off to a good start, only
a school was needed to make the community complete. With financial backing from Mr. T.M. Gatlin, Keatchie Female College
was formally opened in 1857. Under President
J.S. Bacon, students took Latin, Greek, biology,
philosophy, geology, chemistry, German, French, elocution, art, voice, piano,
violin and ornamental needlework.
When the Civil War broke
out, there were 125 young ladies from the best homes in Louisiana, but the school was forced to
close when students and teachers alike joined the fight. The DeSoto Parish Police Jury gave the
Keatchie Highlanders $1500 to organize their contingent. They were known for their unusual dress,
kilts and plaids. During the war, the
college was used as a depot for medical supplies shipped overland from Mexico, and after
the battle of Mansfield,
it was used as a hospital for Confederate wounded.
A tornado in the Fall of
1880 killed President Jeremiah Tucker and a teacher and blew away part of the
main building and damaged others. They
managed to repair it, however, and by 1891 enrollment had climbed to a record 217. The opening of other colleges in Natchitoches, Ruston and Pineville and
the Great Depression gradually took their toll.
After efforts to revive it failed, the college closed forever in
Today, no physical evidence
of the college can be found, and the Keachi Heritage Foundation has plans to
open a cultural center on the front lawn.