COVINGTON, La. – He’s one of Covington’s most famous residents, and in the world of books, especially philosophical fiction, Walker Percy is a super star. Many of his novels are set in and around New Orleans, and he won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962, for “The Moviegoer.”
“People come here and they want to know: where was his house and were is he buried? There’s a definite interest for the people who loved his books,” says Lisa Condrey Ward, the co-owner of the Southern Hotel, and creator of the Covington Public Art Fund.
Ms. Condrey Ward has done a lot to promote Walker Percy-related tourism in Covington. One of her hotel’s spacious and well-appointed suites is named for the author, and, at the hotel bar, every Wednesday is “Walker Percy Wednesday,” based on a quote from the award-winning writer. (Percy is credited with saying, “Home is where the heart is, but it’s no place to be on a Wednesday afternoon.”) During these special happy hours there are Bourbon specials; apparently Percy enjoyed them during his forty-plus years in Covington.
“Covington has always been known as an artist’s community. We have a long history, for whatever reason, of artists living here or coming here to do their work,” says Condrey Ward.
The CPAF’s first commission was unveiled in August, and it also honors Percy: a bronze masterpiece near the entrance to Bogue Falaya Park. It took less than two years for the group to raise $60,000 to make it happen. There’s another piece of art in the works that also honors Percy: a bust that will be placed in the public library once its renovation is complete.
Finally, if you’d like to pay your respects at the final resting place for this literary genius, head to St. Joseph Abbey. He and his wife are buried there, and the visitor center can help you find the spot. You might want to call ahead to be sure someone will be on hand to guide you.
Percy’s novels speak to the struggle of mankind in the modern world, but you won’t struggle to find markers to celebrate his life when you journey to Covington.