Following the devastating storms of 2005, St. Bernard was in desperate need of healthcare facilities. The Meraux Foundation stepped in and donated land valued at $2.8 million at no cost to the parish. This freed up funds for the parish and allowed for a world-class $70 million facility to be built in Chalmette. Relying on the hospital as an anchor, the Meraux Foundation plans to help facilitate the development of the surrounding properties to improve housing, retail, and economic development in the Parish.
Named after Dr. Louis “Doc” Meraux, Docville is a historic property that stretches from the Mississippi River to Lake Borgne. Today, the Foundation has designated over 130 acres of Docville as an educational learning center that hosts art series, workshops, and a number of community events, such as LSU’s AgMagic on the River.
The Docville Farm campus features the Main House, a turn-of-the-century structure resurrected after the hurricanes of 2005; the Dave Thompson Event Barn; the Arlene Meraux River Observation Center (AMROC); working stables with livestock; and educational installations, including sugar cane and citrus crops, a live crawfish pond, and an augmented reality sandbox.
Arlene Meraux River Observation Center
The Arlene Meraux River Observation Center, “AMROC,” was dedicated in 2014 to honor the legacy of Arlene Meraux by even further expanding the Foundation’s reach into the St. Bernard Parish community. AMROC serves as a learning center for coastal awareness and restoration; in addition to a meeting room and large classroom dedicated to community education, workshops, and projects, the building features a fifth-floor observation deck overlooking the mighty Mississippi River. The ground floor provides even more event space at Docville.
Dave Thompson Event Barn
In 2015, the Foundation dedicated the Dave Thompson Event Barn in honor of Mr. Thompson’s 65 years of service to the Meraux family and the community. The 19th century barn’s structure was originally located at the French Market in New Orleans, and it was moved and reconstructed on Docville by Anita Meraux in the late 1940s. Today, the Meraux Foundation hosts many community events in the barn.
Events at Docville
While Docville is not open to the public at all times, anyone interested in hosting a community event is welcomed make a request using the contact form. You can learn about upcoming Docville events on our events calendar. Please note that because Docville was established to serve the community for charitable purposes, private events, like weddings, and photo shoots are not allowed.
Docville is located at 5128 E. St. Bernard Hwy., Violet, La 70092.
The Violet Canal has played a signiﬁcant role throughout the History of St. Bernard. The Foundation plans on utilizing this great asset to enhance the quality of life in the Parish and serve as an economic development engine for the community.
Built in 1851 by Francoise Berthelemy LeBeau, the home was at ﬁrst a testament to his familyʼs fortune and class. The “haunted” atmosphere allegedly stems from LeBeauʼs extremely harsh treatment of his slaves. Throughout the rest of the plantationʼs history, many others attempted to use the homeʼs spacious assets. At one point in the 1920ʼs, it became the Friscoville Hotel, which was later discovered to be the front of an illegal gambling casino during prohibition. In 1967, it was purchased by Joseph Meraux.
Tragedy struck in November 2013 when the historic LeBeau Plantation was set on fire by illegal trespassers. The Foundationʼs board members are deeply saddened by the loss of one of the communityʼs most beloved treasures. Read the full statement on the LeBeau Plantation Fire Here.
Recognizing that St. Bernardʼs natural landscape is a valuable asset, the Meraux Foundation is working toward creating a long-term vision for a public green space and eco-tourism assets that provide easy access to a unique wetlands ecosystem for residents and visitors alike.
40 Arpent Wetland Observatory
The Foundation donated land for the 40 Arpent Boat House, the first phase of a multi-governmental agency sponsored eco-tourism project planned for the Parish. The boat house, located at 8201 Benjamin St. in Chalmette, provides access to the 40 Aprent Canal for canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, fishing, and general nature observation. A pedestrian bridge across the canal offers sightseers views of wetlands, old cypress trees, and wildlife.
For more information on the boat house, rentals, and hours of operation, please visit St. Bernard Tourism here.
The Foundation made a 25 acre stretch of land near the Chalmette National Battleﬁeld available to serve as the site of the Meraux Foundation Living History Commemorative Park. The park will host re-enactments of the Battle of New Orleans and serve as a multi-purpose civic resource for the people of St. Bernard Parish. The Foundation undertook the charitable project to enrich the Parish’s tourism offerings and the economy.
Many improvements to the land, planned by LLHʼs historians, will transport visitors back in time to January 1815. The battlegrounds will host visitors throughout the year, spreading the story of the Battle of New Orleans and its key role in the history of the United States. It will also provide a space to cater to, train, and educate those interested in the history of St. Bernard. StrangeTrueTours.com will oversee daily educational tours, on foot, bicycle, and carriage, that tell the story of the Battle.
The Meraux Foundation Living History Commemorative Park is located near the Woodlands Subdivision at the intersection of the Guerenger Canal and Particia Street in St. Bernard Parish, La.
Part of strengthening St. Bernard Parish means creating the jobs and services that our residents need. The Foundation uses some of its land holdings to attract businesses, especially retail that had been lacking in the Parish. The Foundation provided the land for the Walmart on Judge Perez, which is one of the store’s most successful locations.
Instead of selling the land, the Meraux Foundation leases it; and the revenue is used to fund the Foundation’s programs.
The Meraux Foundation, through Meraux Land Development LLC, donated a plot of land at 4700 Paris Road in Chalmette to the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office for the site of a new sub-station. The sub-station’s location is ideal because it allows the Sheriff’s Office to monitor traffic entering and exiting the Parish.
Arlene Meraux had a special place in her heart for animals, and today, caring for animals is part of the Foundation’s work. The Meraux Foundation donated the land for an Animal Services station after Hurricane Katrina.
To support the Arts, the Meraux Foundation donated $1.8 million to develop the Cultural Arts Center of Chalmette High School. The state-of-the-art facility featured vocal, musical, and theatrical performances throughout the year. The Meraux Foundation also award a grant each year to support the St. Bernard Performing Arts Academy, which puts on Broadway caliber productions in the space.
The Foundation owns property in the lower Parish that includes non-levee wetlands and marshes. These properties have been the site of Meraux Foundation-sponsored tree plantings to help protect the Parish against coastal erosion.
The Meraux Foundation is implementing a dynamic strategy to ensure that the development of the Foundation’s vast land holdings have lasting improvements to various aspects of the community – including seniors’ issues, children, education, culture, heritage, economic development, and ecological development and protection. Whether itʼs by donating land to create a bike path in Violet or for the hospital in Chalmette, the Meraux Foundation is putting its land to use to strengthen the quality of life in St. Bernard.