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Birthplace Of Craps Hit By Blaze

15 July 2002

MANDEVILLE, Louisiana – As reported by the Associated Press: "Perhaps the oldest and most storied building on Mandeville's historic lakefront -- said to be the birthplace of the dice game craps -- was heavily damaged by fire that likely was caused by someone leaving a kitchen boiler on overnight, authorities said.

"The bottom floor of the cottage is home to a restaurant owned by well-known Louisiana chef Alex Patout.

"District Chief Merrick Tassin of St. Tammany Parish Fire Protection District No. 4 said the fire started at a seafood boiler, then `shot upstairs and raced across the second floor.'

"Patout came to the fire scene Saturday and spoke with fire officials, Police Chief Tom Buell and members of the Bechac family, who have owned the cottage since 1910.

"…Generations of Mandeville residents have grown up with the 1830s-era, West Indes-style cottage as a constant in their lives, they said.

"…`But the grand old lady is still standing,' Mandeville Council President Denis Bechac said, his eyes bleary and reddened from emotion.`"She is the grand dame of the lakefront, and she did not go down. We can, and we will, rebuild her.'

"…Legend has it that Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville invented the dice game craps on the balcony of the building. He is credited with creating the game, but historians are not sure where that happened.

"Fire damage was extensive to the rear kitchen area and the second floor, and part of the old roof seemed about to cave in. The building is as it was originally built except for a small ground-floor addition on the east side built as a bar…"

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