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Melrose Place Neighborhood Waverly Drive

OUR
NEIGHBORHOOD

& History

Decoration
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Baton Rouge's Best Kept Secret.

Drive into Melrose Place for the first time, and you'll get it.

Once described by our Civic Association decades ago as a "residential oasis", Melrose Place is still a statement of quiet charm and sense of refuge today.  A 2010 article in the Advocate called it Baton Rouge's "best kept secret".  And it’s true: you wouldn’t know it was here unless you were looking for it.

It's a quick drive from downtown, a stone's throw from the amenities of Mid-City, and minutes from Independence Park. Yet, bordered in part by dense woody areas, Melrose Places creates a lovely, secluded retreat from the bustle of life.  It's tucked away from busy streets and resistant to through traffic. It features large wooded lots (some over half an acre), back yards that can feel like nature sanctuaries, and homes constructed when craftsmanship mattered. It boasts a variety of architectural styles - cottage, mid century modern, and ranch. 

Defiant to the typical grid pattern, the streets are laid out in triangles and curves that reveal its eccentric character. From lovingly sculpted lawns to yards casually tangled with wildflowers and natural habitats, from a sweeping boulevard to shadowy pockets under canopies of graceful oaks: Melrose Place is a mixture of elements that stirs the imagination and welcomes you home every time.  

A beautiful place to live.

At it's heart, Melrose Place is a neighborhood in the truest sense. Neighbors share gardening secrets across fences, take walks and ride bikes together, watch each other's pets (and kids!), and keep an eye out for those that need help, young and old. As Melrosians, we appreciate the assets of our homes, security, and natural surroundings but also share in a vibe that there's more to life than keeping up with the Joneses.  We value our uniqueness, diversity, and making connections with each other.  It's what makes Melrose Place a beautiful place to live.

Melrose Place Neighborhood Outdoor Patio
Melrose Place Neighborhood Backyard Garden
Melrose Place Neighborhood Remembrance Garden
Melrose Place Neighborhood Architectural Example
Melrose Place Neighborhood Mermaid Statue
Melrose Place Neighborhood Early Street Map
Melrose Place Neighborhood Jungle Garden
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Humble beginnings.

By the time of the post-World War II housing boom, the areas of Capital Heights and Goodwood had already been developed, but everything north was heavily wooded. What would eventually become Melrose was east of Baton Rouge and out in the country, a 300-acre tract that was “way out there on Highway 190 about 5 miles from downtown.”  Fast forward to the mid-1950s, and Florida Street and Foster Drive had become the geographic center of Baton Rouge.  But in the decade prior to that, and right in the center of that growth, Walter R. Aldrich, owner of Melrose Development Company, began development of Melrose Place Subdivision in 1945.

Amid the building material shortages caused by the military needs of the war, many people in Baton Rouge were building as much of their own homes as possible, hiring out only bricklaying and other specialty trades. The original homes of Melrose were built during this period of resilience and rugged self-sufficiency.  The Civic Association archives have several historic accounts of such homes - one being a home built in 1946 on Valcour Drive where the owner bought materials every Friday (pay day), built the house with his wife, and never needed a mortgage.

Progress.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that municipal amenities were put into place: telephones, sewer lines, streetlights, curbs, and gutters.  During this time, the neighborhood was flourishing, and the Melrose Civic Association was founded in 1962 to “unite property owners who are interested in the civic betterment of the area known as Melrose Subdivision, with the intent of promoting the general welfare of the subdivision.”

Later, in 1982, this organization became galvanized as Melrose Civic Association, Inc.  under the leadership of longtime resident Alan Jennings who has played an important role in the growth of our neighborhood, the civic association, and our security district.  

 

Melrose has continued to grow through multiple generations of homeowners and residents, committees, and board members.  Each have taken their place, cultivated what was needed at the time, and passed the torch along to the next generation.  Our commitment to resilience and bringing together neighbors to meet the unique challenges of the day has remained a part of the Melrose Place legacy for over 75 years.   Please help us continue the legacy.

Melrose Place Neighborhood Mid Century Modern House
Melrose Place Neighborhood Pink House
Melrose Place Neighborhood Waverly Woods

Waverly Woods

Melrose Place Neighborhood Garden Rabbit

Protecting the Woods.

The woods along Waverly Drive have always been a treasured asset of Melrose Place, but in 2017 these woods came under threat of development. Over the course of several years and a lot of work, former Civic Association president Clayton Weeks fought to keep the 9.7 acre idyllic stretch of woods we now own and enjoy today.  

When the Civic Association was notified of this development in 2017, Clayton began engaging with the development company, LDG. It soon became clear that legal help was needed, so he reached out to an earlier Civic Association president (and legal expert) Alan Jennings who rolled up his sleeves and joined forces with Clayton.  Ultimately, their efforts resulted in Melrose Civic Association purchasing the 9.7 acres of land for $100. The official title transfer is dated December 16th, 2020.

The land was initially capable of being subdivided into approximately 30 single-family lots, but it was put under a negative easement that prevented any selling or subdividing of the property. This gave the Civic Association complete control over the woods.  Additionally, LDG agreed to several concessions favorable to Melrose Place: the removal of two multi-family buildings, the construction and upkeep of fencing, relocation of the water retention ponds to the front of the development (previously planned against the neighborhood), design of all storm water and sewer service away from the neighborhood towards Ardenwood, and the creation of a dog park for residents.

We thank folks like Clayton and Alan for donating their time and expertise to keep Melrose Place a beautiful place to live.

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Melrose Place Neighborhood Tree In Bloom
Melrose Place Neighborhood Lantern and Oak
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Melrose Place Neighborhood Jungle Garden
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