Crowley, Louisiana, (population 14,225) is located in the south central area of the state. It was founded in 1887 by two brothers, C.C. and W.W. Duson. The new town offered land well suited for agriculture, particularly rice, and the population grew to 6,000 by 1917.
Rice production began in earnest in Louisiana shortly after the Civil War. Thanks to the warm climate and long growing season, farmers could usually harvest rice twice a year. Rice continues to play an important role in Crowley’s economy.
In 1940, torrential rains dropped 20 inches on Crowley in 24 hours, and another 20 inches over the next few days. Crowley’s 9,523 inhabitants were marooned, with more than 80 percent of homes taking in water. After the deluge, residents returned and cleaned up the town.
Crowley recently restored the Ford Building, built in 1921 as a car dealership and partial assembly line for Model Ts. The building, open for tours, now serves as city hall and houses four new museums: the Rice Interpretive Center, the City of Crowley Museum, the Ford Motor Company Museum, and the J.D. Miller Music and Recording Studio Museum. Miller was a pioneering force in the development and preservation of Louisiana music, and his famed recording studio is noted for its Cajun, country, swamp pop, and swamp blues recordings.
Crowley has more than 200 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including many Victorian residences featuring Queen Anne architecture. The city is in the midst of a $2.52 million restoration of the 1901 Grand Opera House of the South, and the building is open for tours.
Crowley has milled more rice than any city in the country, earning it the designation of “Rice Capital of the World.” Every October, the city celebrates the International Rice Festival, one of the nation’s largest and oldest agricultural festivals.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2007.