The Cooley House, while designed in the year 1908, wasn’t constructed until 1925 and completed in 1926. The house was designed by Walter Burley Griffin, an architect of international acclaim, for Gilbert ‘Captain” Cooley, an entrepreneur in Monroe, Louisiana. The home was built from concrete, and features a green colored tile roof and wood trim, as well as a detached carport. The carport wasn’t part of the original plans for the house in 1908. Between 1910 and 1920, Cooley became Monroe’s first resident to acquire an automobile. Because of this, a detached carport was added to the house’s plan during revisions in 1925.
The Coole House is the last building to be designed in the United States by Walter Griffin. The house is also one of the last examples of the residential architecture of the Prairie School surviving in the southern United States. It is noted among historians and architects for its combination of elements from Griffin’s Australian and America periods. Gilbert Cooley resided in the house designed just for him until he passed away in the year 1952. After the death of Cooley’s widow in 1955, the Cooley House was sold to a man by the name of Donald Hughes.
The Cooley House was transformed into apartments, and later into law offices. It was purchased in 2000 by the G.B. Cooley Board of Commissioners. The house was added to the country’s National Register of Historic Places in 1986 at a level of state importance. It was placed on the state’s Top 10 Most Endangered Sites for Historic Preservation by the Louisiana Trust in 2006.
In 2010, the Cooley House was placed at a level on the National Register of Historic Places of national importance.
The City of Monroe bought the Cooley House and entered an agreement to restore the historic house and gardens with The Cooley House Foundation. The home became the property of the City of Monroe, with staff also provided by the city. The Cooley House Foundation is responsible for raising the necessary funds to restore the property and provide continuous support for the house operated as a museum to the public.
In July of the year 2008, restoration began on the Cooley House, and still continues today. Once fully restored, the home will be opened as a museum, welcoming visitors and locals alike to explore the house. The house turned museum will display various exhibits in addition to being a showcase for the historic home, as well as provide educational programs.
The Cooley House is among a number of historic houses located along Monroe’s South Grand Street. Also situated along this road are Layton Castle and the Masur Museum of Art. When the museum at the Cooley House opens to the public, it will add to the community’s cultural corridor that is in the process of development along Monroe’s Ouachita River. This area stretches from the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens to the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum, as well to the Masur Museum of Art to the south.
701 Kansas Lane, Monroe, Louisiana, Phone: 318-362-5540