History of St. Louis Villa
St. Louis Villa, Yercaud:
For many years, Bro. Louis Bureau had been thinking of a house for the Old Retired Brothers, which could also be the Provincial Headquarters. Rookery (near Eachinkadu) Bainton (San Thome) were on the prospective list. There was a plan to put up a building in Bangalore. All these plans fell through for some reason or other.
In 1958, the Provincial Council chose a corner of the Belfort property, Just below the Belfort bungalow-the present site and leveling was started in October 1958. The actual work on the foundations began in February 1959. Bro. Othon had drawn up the plans and he supervised the work till March 1960.
On the 28th April 1959, when the walls were already several feet above ground level the belated ceremony of “blessing the first stone” and “Christening” was performed by the Bishop of Salem. Bro. Louis Bureau, the visionary par excellent had worked hard for the Province of India for many years and so, the formal name of “LOUIS VILLA” was chosen for the provincial House.
On the 10th May 1960, Bro. John of the Cross, Provincial, occupied one room and Father Bisschop of the Nellore Diocese, who was on holiday, occupied another. Before the end of the month, the Provincial Shifted to Montfort. Bro. Corentin and his scholastics from Loyola tenated it till the 19th June. Brothers Claudien and Vitalis were more or less “Night watchmen” till the end of the year. The Old Brothers for whom the House had been built – Brothers Victrice, Henry Gabriel, Eugene Joseph, Corentin, Paul Majella, were not too eager to move in.
At the beginning of April 1960, Othon left for Europe on home leave. By April 1960, the work on St. Louis Villa was nearly over. After Bro. Othon’s leaving for France, Bro. Zephirin took charge of the work and completed it within a month. By the end June 1960, Bro. Claudian, the Provincial Treasurer and Bro. Vitalis, the headmaster of St. Joseph’s Higher Elementary School, Yercaud, established in St. Louis Vila their night quarters. In November 1960, Bro. Louis Bureau was back in India for his Annual canonical visit. He was surprised to note that St. Louis Villa was not used for the purpose for which it was built. It had been built as house for old Brothers. In December 1960, Bro. Baptist was transferred from Eachinkadu to St. Louis Villa. It was on 9th Jan. 1961 that the Provincial and Bro. Baptist moved into St. Louis Villa. On Jan. 12, 1961, the house was blessed by the Bishop of Salem. In March 1961, Bro. Eleazer, came and stayed at St. Louis Villa. He was determined to see at least some of old Brothers installed themselves there before he left for Europe on March 10th. On March 6th, Bro. Henry Gabriel moved into St. Louis Villa with his faithful servant Peter and two Days Later Bro. Victrice joined him. On April 7th, Bro. Eugene Joseph joined the community.
On the 16th April 1970 Bro. Baptist, the Director of St. Louis Villa, left for Europe. From then on, the Provincial Superiors, in turn Brothers Stephen, Antony Francisco and Anselm have been holding additional charge as Directors of the House.
Bro. Stephen was keen on shifting the provincial Head Quarters to Kazipet, but it fell through. St. Louis villa continued to be the Head Quarters of the Provincial Superior of the South and later the Regional Superior of Yercaud region and presently the Provincial Superior of Yercaud Province. Actually it is a bit of Montfort School drifted further!
St. Louis Villa was destined to be not only the home of the Provincials but also that of sick and aged members of the Province, when illness and old age made it impossible for them to stay on in a working community; however much the Brothers would have loved to keep them.
Realising the need for more facilities and rooms, the present Provincial Administration has started to expand the Louis Villa buildings. The new facilities will include a modern museum, archives, light and sound dorm on life of St. Montfort, Chapter hall, library, office, a large Chapel, Kitchen and sufficient rooms for Brothers and visitors.
Any Brother of St. Gabriel is welcome here at any time.