Martin Hat Shop
Martin Hat Shop
Built Circa Year: Built Circa 1942
Address: 312 Stewart Street
National Register of Historic Places: Lafayette Historic Register Number 108
Historic Register Listing:Designated August 16, 2018

The Martin Hat Shop is one of the longest-operating, Creole-owned and operated businesses in Freetown, and it at one time enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best hat repair shop in the country. The hat shop building was built by John Martin, Sr., who learned how to clean, block and make hats in 1915 New Orleans. He returned to open a hat shop located at 115 Cypress Street near the train depot. He married Yolande Roy and had three children, Marjorie, John, Jr. and Alice. The original shop burned  twice from fires that started in the clothes pressing area, and after the second fire, Martin built this shop between his house and the home of his grandmother, Philomene Francois Victor. In 1951, John Martin, Jr. married Thelma Goodie from Maurice. From that time on, Thelma worked in the hat shop with her husband and father-in-law, John, Sr. Thelma did the sewing while John, Jr. did the blocking and cleaning. In 1976, after both John, Sr. and John, Jr. had passed away, Thelma was encouraged by friends and business associates to continue operating the business. She taught herself how to make a hat from scratch and how to clean and block hats. She became well known for the superb quality of her work and her exceptional customer service.