Law Office

WFP Historical Society

Contributed from the 1973 Audubon Pilgrimage Booklet
by the WFP Historical Society

This small building has known but one thing in its 131 years of existence(as of year 2000 - 158 years): the practice of law.

On the first day of February 1842, a 25-year-old lawyer from New Salem, New York, bought a lot across the street from the Court House and built his office there. He began his practice in his two little rooms with a bookcase, a washstand, two rocking chairs, a large arm chair, a mantle clock, and two silver candlesticks. His name was Uriah Burr Phillips, and he established for himself a reputation for probity and scholarship. He was appointed to codify the laws of the State while serving in the legislature. In December 1858, when he ran for the Supreme Court, the Bayou Sara newspaper said, "It is not as a speaker that Mr. Phillips ranks high, but as a thorough-read lawyer -- one that understands the law and knows how to apply it...." Two months later his name appeared in the same newspaper as one of those mortally wounded in the explosion of the steamboat Princess, filled with lawyers on their way to the opening of the Supreme Court in New Orleans.

The law offices then came into the hands of Louisiana's Governor Robert C. Wickliffe, who completed his term in 1860, and came home to practice law with Charles L. Fischer. The two were a study in contrasts: The Governor, rotund and genial, wreathed in cigar smoke, sat on the porch and regaled passers-by. Fischer, neat and retiring, sat undisturbed in the back office, tending to the business the Governor attracted.

The next lawyer to practice in the building was Judge S. McC. Lawrason, of whom his Rector gave this description: "He was the Senior Warden of Grace Church, an active politician, a member of the state legislature, a really religious man. In time he found the two incompatible, so he dropped politics......" Judge Lawrason took as his partner James H. Kilbourne, a graduate civil engineer who turned to law under the Judge's tutelage. When he died in 1968 after practicing law for almost sixty years, Kilbourne was the dean of the Feliciana Bar. His law office is now owned by his daughter, whose husband's active firm continues his practice.

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