The city of Mandeville was founded in 1834 by Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville (1785-1868). The Marigny family was a prominent family of Louisiana, owning nearly 1/3 of the city of New Orleans. Bernard inherited a fortune from his father, Pierre Enguerrand Philippe de Mandeville Ecuyer, Sieur de Marigny. Bernard resided in New Orleans; however, he maintained a rich and profitable plantation on the site of what is now Fontainebleau State Park. He went west of Bayou Castine (derived from a Choctaw Indian word “caste” meaning fleas), and purchased approximately 5,000 acres. There he planned to develop a prosperous new town.
Louis Bringer, surveyor general of Louisiana, drew the town plans, according to Bernard’s directive. These plans were notarized on January 14, 1834. The town plan included guidelines for both the governing and operation of the new town, as well as civic structures, streets, markets, churches and wharves. The space between the lake and the streets fronting the lake were never to be obstructed in any manner. Most streets were 50 feet in width, except for Marigny and Jackson at 100 feet and Lake Street at 60 feet. Drainage was directed to Bayou Castine, which was never to be re-channelled. Lots were designated at 60 x 90 feet. The sale of lots was advertised in New Orleans’ newspapers; and, Bernard provided steamship service for interested parties.
Many families were forced to give up their properties during the depression of 1837. Bernard, himself was required to sell his Fontainebleau Plantation in 1852. Mandeville was inhabited by very few people during the Civil War. Union troops under the command of Major F.H. Peck occupied the town. By the late 19th century, Mandeville’s lakeshore resort town image began to increase in popularity once again. The steamship-ferry service from New Orleans continued until 1936. Rail connections through eastern St. Tammany Parish from New Orleans became another mode of transportation. However, the current immigration growth is the direct result of the opening of the Causeway Bridge in 1956.
The city of Mandeville, as the gateway to the North Shore and St. Tammany Parish, enjoys a lifestyle that is quite different from New Orleans, its South Shore neighbor. Mandeville embraces the serenity of its rich naturalistic environment. As a waterfront and water-oriented community, Mandeville enjoys a temperate climate amid a lush canopy of live oaks, magnolias and towering pines. Wildlife, such as squirrels, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, deer, armadillos, fish and numerous species of birds and water fowl are abundant throughout the area.
The community exhibits a well-integrated sense of quality and scale, when viewed in perspective with nature. Planning guidelines have established spacious lot sizes, generous building setbacks, and overall low-density residential development. In order to ensure that the pines and hardwoods retain dominance as the community’s vertical element, there is a construction height limitation of 35 feet. Landscaping requirements have been enacted to preserve existing trees and vegetation and to replace trees lost through development. Low-rise, landscaped monument signs have been adopted through sign regulations to minimize the visual clutter. These landscape regulations, along with the establishment of the Parks and Parkways Commission have enabled Mandeville to become a proud member of the Tree City USA program. Mandeville’s slower paced style of life is parallelled by a preference for sailboats, rather than motor boats on the lake. Herein lies the past legacies that the present city of Mandeville seeks to protect and preserve.