Two drastically different backgrounds come together to form the story of the lovely house at 520 Park Place Drive in Alexandria, Louisiana. This was the home of Lester William Allen and his wife Garnet LaCroix from 1940 until at least 1960. This couple lived and worked together throughout the years establishing an Alexandria business that would later be run by their son and then their grandson until closing in 2006.
Their story as a couple must be put into perspective by examining the families into which they were born. Lester was born the second of two sons in 1900 at the United States military base in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. His father was a Chief Musician for the US Army 3rd Regiment Field Artillery during the Spanish American War of 1898 and the family continued to be stationed in the area. His father William Allen had been born in Pennsylvania and his mother Fannie Lear was a Texan. After their service in Puerto Rico, the family settled in the San Antonio area.
Garnet, on the other hand, was born into a large family in Boyne City, Charlevoix County, Michigan. Her father farmed his own land and was descended from the Ottawa and Chippewa Nations of Indians whose history through the years with the British, French, and finally the United States created the state of Michigan and the current reservation lands for the Three Fires Confederacy, the Odawa (Ottawa) the Ojibwa (Chippewa) and Bodowadomi (Pottawatomi) people.
The circumstances of their meeting are unclear, but records show that the pair married in Dallas, Texas in the year of 1929 and in 1930 are married and are living in a boarding house with Lester working as a wallpaper salesman. By 1935, the couple had relocated to Alexandria, Louisiana and lived at different addresses on Chester and Webster Streets.
In the federal census of 1940, the pair has moved into their family home on Park Place Drive. At this time they have been blessed with a son, William Benjamin Allen (1938-2007) and also have a household servant living in the home named Ada Garwood.
The business created by Lester and Garnet Allen around 1940 was known as Allen Wallpaper & Glass. Records show that Lester was the company president and Garnet worked directly beside him as the company’s secretary/treasurer. With such hard-working entrepreneurial parents it is no surprise that their son followed them into the business when it became his time to do so.
Their first location appears to have been at 226 Jackson Street, which is today a parking lot of the Downtown Holiday Inn across Jackson Street from the Bentley Hotel. The business later moved to 1016 Lee Street and finally to 3121 Masonic Drive. In 1975, the name was changed to Allen Glass and they remained as such until closing in 2006.
Still today, many of the Allen descendants reside in and contribute to the Central Louisiana community. Their family history is unique and has helped to shape our area.