A 150 Year Legacy
Located in historic Treme-Lafitte, the lot that now houses 1125 N. Tonti Street was purchased by Thomy Lafon, a free man of color born in New Orleans in 1775 who amassed great wealth in real estate and become one of America’s first African American philanthropists, donating to numerous charitable causes. At Lafon’s request, the original structure on Tonti was erected in 1866 as an asylum for children orphaned after the Civil War; the orphanage was run by the Sisters of the Holy Family, one of the first African American orders of nuns. In 1892, still under the care of the Sisters of the Holy Family, the structure shifted missions and become the “Lafon Catholic Old Folk Home,” a nursing home for elderly women of color. After Lafon’s death in 1893, the Sisters had the finances to expand the facility and, funded by Lafon’s bequests, the Sisters built a large, square, three-story brick structure with full-length porches on three sides in front of the existing two-story wooden building. Completed in 1895, the new facility allowed services to be offered to elderly men and women. The Sisters operated the Lafon Home out of the Tonti location until 1973 when they moved to a new facility and donated the premise for the formation of Odyssey House Louisiana (OHL).
As OHL has continued the building’s storied social service history, the Tonti location has been of continuous aid to Louisiana for over 150 years!
Today, the Tonti building currently houses OHL’s Short- and Long- Term Residential Substance Abuse Treatment programs, its outpatient services, and its Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Please take a moment to view our slideshow of historic pictures at the top of this segment!