Nellie Lutcher Cultural District Announced

For Immediate Release:  July 23, 2015


For Further Information Contact:  Eric Cormier, SWLA Economic Development Alliance, 433-3632 or

                                                Matt Young, City of Lake Charles, 491-9176



Nellie Lutcher Cultural District

One Piece of Community and Economic Development


The City of Lake Charles, Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA and the SWLA Economic Development Alliance collaborated on designating a section in Lake Charles as the Nellie Lutcher Memorial Cultural District.


On July 1, 2015, the district became effective following approval of an application from the city by the Louisiana Office of the Lt. Governor: Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism Office of Cultural Development.


Counting the Nellie Lutcher Memorial Cultural District, the five parish Imperial Calcasieu region now has five cultural districts (three in Lake Charles: Nellie Lutcher, Charlestown Cultural District and Cottage Shops Cultural District; along with the Downtown DeRidder Cultural District in Beauregard Parish and the Town of Welsh Cultural District in Jeff Davis Parish.)


Cultural districts are designated by governing authorities for the purpose of revitalizing a community by creating a hub of cultural activity.


Once a cultural district is certified by the state, two tax incentives take effect:

  • The sales of qualifying original, one-of-a-kind art within the district are exempt from local and state sales tax.
  • Renovations to residential and commercial historic structures within the district may be eligible for state historic tax credits.


The Arts and Humanities Council will file an annual report to the state Office of Cultural Development – like the agency does for other districts -- in order to keep the area’s designation.


“The certification of The Nellie Lutcher Cultural District will help invigorate the re-development of Enterprise Boulevard and our entire area. As Lake Charles continues to grow it is important for us to not only expand our boundaries, but to cultivate existing neighborhoods, business districts, and tourism opportunities,” said Mayor Randy Roach.


“Nellie Lutcher’s legacy continues to make Lake Charles proud, and I’m happy to see her musical talents used as an incubator for cultural and business development in the City. We will continue to work together as a community to make Enterprise Boulevard a destination for music and entertainment once again.”


Nellie Lutcher was born October 15, 1912, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Her family home was located on Enterprise Boulevard which is the heart of the district. Lutcher was the oldest of 15 children, and grew up in a musically inclined family. She played piano at New Sunlight Baptist Church located in the district on V.E. Washington Street.


Lutcher moved to Los Angeles in 1935 and started her professional career playing swing piano. She was influenced by the likes of Earl Hines, Duke Ellington and her personal friend Nat “King” Cole. Lutcher’s musical hits include “The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else,” “Hurry On Down,” “He’s a Real Gone Guy,” and “Lake Charles Boogie.”


“The designation of the Nellie Lutcher Memorial Cultural District is a success for all of Southwest Louisiana. The Alliance encourages all business owners to take advantage of the benefits in this and all of the other cultural districts in the five parish region. We are presently working on additional economic development policies that can be utilized in the cultural districts, therefore allowing entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow and succeed. The Alliance is in the business of helping business and we are proud to have taken an active part in getting this project completed.” said George Swift, President and CEO of the Alliance.


The designation of the Nellie Lutcher Memorial Cultural District follows local efforts to celebrate the singer who is part of SWLA’s cultural and musical history.


In 2007, the Imperial Calcasieu Museum and American Press collaborated to produce an exhibit celebrating Lutcher. That effort culminated in Enterprise Boulevard between Interstate 10 and Broad Street being designated Nellie Lutcher Memorial Parkway.


“I can’t help thinking how pleased Nellie, an entrepreneur herself, would be knowing that a cultural district bearing her name will give rise to economic development on the street where she was born in the neighborhood where she played,” said Susan Reed, Executive Director of the Calcasieu Parish Imperial Museum. “Nellie left a mark in the world and is a Lake Charles hero.”


Artists are encouraged to utilize the district and take advantage of the 23 million motorist who pass through it annually on Interstate 10.


“The Nellie Lutcher Cultural District is a very important addition to the two other cultural districts in Lake Charles.  I believe that great events and art exhibits will come from being able to sell art tax free in this district.  This is wonderful opportunity for local artists and those interested in exhibiting art in their establishments,” said Ashli Waldrep, executive director of the Arts and Humanities Council.


For more information about the benefits of cultural district in Lake Charles, contact City Hall at 491-9176 or Eric Cormier, Special Projects Manager/Assistant Communications Manager at the SWLA Economic Development Alliance at 337-433-3632 or


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“The City of Lake Charles fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes, executive orders, and regulations in all programs and activities.  The City operates without regard to race, color, national origin, income, gender, age, and disability.  Any person who believes him/herself or any specific class of persons, to be subjected to discrimination prohibited by Title VI may by him/herself or by representative file a written complaint with the City of Lake Charles.  The City's Title VI Coordinator may be reached by phone at (337) 491-1440, the Mayor's Action Line at (337) 491-1346, or contact the appropriate Department Head.

Published: 2015-07-23

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