Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012
One man’s school is another man’s lodge.
And so it is with the Pecan Island School Lodge.
The Lodge, formerly Pecan Island School located on Hwy. 82 in the community of Pecan Island, has a panoramic view of lush marshland that melts into the Gulf of Mexico and is nearly within casting distance of White Lake.
The former school housed first through 12th graders before a declining population sent the students to Kaplan for their education.
Enter the John brothers, Peter and David, who took a couple of years to convert the school to its present state. Still, old school memories are apparent and preserved in the murals and handprints on the school’s walls and columns.
“We wanted to restore it and keep the presence and the respect for the local people,” Peter says. “As you can see, we kept the artwork.”
Contrary to rumor, when Hurricane Rita pummeled Vermilion Parish in 2005, its floodwaters were kept at bay. The school escaped flooding because it was built on a ridge when it was constructed in 1962.
“It was neglected,” says Peter. “But it never flooded.”
|Gym can be used for trade shows.|
Now the school’s rooms are in use as private suites, a dining room and kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances, a game room, recreation room, sunroom and gymnasium with a refinished basketball court.
As it happened, David John was in the area on a scouting mission when he first saw the school.
“It’s a little ironic,” says David. “I was down here on a Sunday looking at a hunting lease, and I walked in the office on Monday morning and Peter had a newspaper — every morning we meet to see what’s going on — and he said, ‘What about this Pecan Island School thing?’ And I said, ‘That’s funny. I was there yesterday.’”
|A Hunting dog is in line to become Pecan Island School's new mascot.|
The brothers started talking about the school’s potential and began looking into it for use as a family camp, as well as going commercial with it as a camp for hunters.
“We didn’t know if we wanted to do it as a personal camp, a place for us to take our kids,” Peter says.
The more they thought about it, the men realized the Lodge could be used for off-site seminars, conferences and retreats for companies looking for a fresh environment for such gatherings.
In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, The Lodge played host to the first vendor-sponsored trade show of the brothers’ Crowley business, JohnPac, a bag manufacturer.
“First one we did, very, very positive response. And it’s actually fun to do something here where it’s a lot more relaxed,” David says. “The teaching seminars were in a very relaxed environment.”
|From Left: Mary Ellen Henry, David & Peter John|
In close proximity are the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area, Rockerfeller State Wildlife Refuge and Game Preserve, the Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Refuge and Game Preserve and the State Wildlife Refuge.
“This is one of the few places you can fish freshwater out back, saltwater out front,” says David. “And shoot ducks on both sides.”
Will Burch is the general manager and guide who lives on site.
Although it sits smack dab in a hunting/fishing paradise, the Johns say the Lodge isn’t just for hunting and fishing or even corporate seminars.
“We cater to the needs of the individual,” says David. “Whether it be a hunting trip, a fishing trip, or an overnight for a couple or a family.”
“It’s still a work in progress,” he says.
“It’s a family environment,” Peter adds.
|Skeet Shooting out back of the school|
The Lodge is also a place where a photographer or painter can get a serious outdoor fix no matter the medium.
“It’s a place to relax,” says Peter. “And it’s one of the few places that’s close — you don’t have to fly four hours to enjoy it. It’s easily accessible.”
Commercial interests can enjoy the facility or bring their customers. And when they do, they can get the Johns to set up a caterer, or bring their own chef or cook.
Pecan Island School Lodge is available to rent by the suite or the entire facility.
“I guess that’s why we haven’t committed to any one thing,” says David. “There are so many options here.”
For information about lodging and rates, contact William Burch at (337) 258-4868.
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