COPYRIGHT 2020 © PRESERVATION ALLIANCE OF LAFAYETTE
La Maison Française, named the French House by the University after they acquired the property in 1955, was built for Mr. Myrtil Meyer, and his wife, Mrs. Louise Bendel Meyer. Louise was the sister of famed Lafayette native, Mr. Henri Bendel. Henri designed and built the French House and lived in the house during the construction of his own home. Henri’s caretaker’s home, the Bendel Lodge, was located at the corner of Marguerite Blvd. and Bendel Road. The entire property became subdivision, Bendel Gardens, in 1951. Henri and Louise were the children of William Louis Bendel and Mary Plonsky Bendel. Their father died in 1874 when Henri was six years old. His mother was an astute businesswoman who owned and operated a retail furniture outlet, a drug store, a dry goods store, and an undertaking parlor in Vermilionville. In 1878 she married Mr. Benjamin Falk who owned a dry goods store and the popular Falk’s Opera House which operated above the store on Washington Street between West Vermilion and West Main Streets. In 1894, Henri Bendel married Blanche Lehman, daughter of Aaron Lehman. Being a talented designer and skilled at branding and marketing, Henri opened a successful ladies accessories shop in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The French-speaking Bendel enhanced his store’s exclusivity by importing fashions from Paris, and in 1907, he developed the iconic Bendel brown and white striped box which came to signify his brand’s identity. Throughout the 20th century, upscale boutiques offered Bendel fashions to women across the United States. The flagship store, located at 712 5th Avenue in New York City, operated under the Bendel name until January 2019. Henri Bendel would appreciate the historic name given to his sister’s house, because he was known to have a deep love for everything French.