If you’ve got a secret you need to share, the Hidden South Confessional is a safe place to spill the beans. And you can pick up some incredible artwork or furniture simultaneously.
For lots of its visitors, this unusual retail shop in Louisiana plays a valuable role. Those who venture upstairs will find a small private room with a unique purpose.
Curious and ready to shop? We’ve got the details on the Hidden South Confessional for you.
History of the Hidden South Confessional
Many churchgoers are very familiar with confession, but this version isn’t tied to religion. We think it’s a more public alternative to PostSecret, where people confide their secrets anonymously on postcards.
Brent Walker, a recovering addict and book author, came up with this version while on a book tour. He placed a wooden confession box next to the copies of his book, The Hidden South–Come Home.
The response surprised him.
Wherever he went, people eagerly wrote down secrets and dropped them through a slot. Many blabbed openly about what they’d shared, while others were shy and reticent. So many were grateful for the chance to unload that he thought people should always have such an opportunity.
When he created his retail shop later, he converted an upstairs bathroom into a permanent confessional space. Behind a closed door, people write secrets on the wall, sometimes just for kicks but often to release heavy burdens.
They can linger a bit to read what others have shared. Many visitors find that experience cathartic, as well.
Where Is the Hidden South Confessional?
The unusual retail space with a greater mission is in a section of greater New Orleans called Arabi. This community is just a few miles east of the city in St. Bernard Parish and is still somewhat rural in places. It has a colorful atmosphere of its own with a unique history and customs. They include hunting and fishing, of course, but much more.
They say that Arabi and its neighboring towns and villages offer the best of both worlds. They’re just a short drive from the city, maybe 15 or 20 minutes, and each has a distinctive personality. The people are warm, approachable, and somewhat proudly independent of New Orleans, though firmly connected.
The Hidden South Confessional is inside an old two-story house at 7124 Saint Claude Ave. To get there from the French Quarter, you can head east for about five miles along Saint Claude Avenue.
For another route, you can take South Claiborne Avenue to State Highway 39 South for a little over six miles.
Pro Tip: Grab a bite at one of these 5 Can’t Miss Restaurants in New Orleans.
Other Things to Do Near the Hidden South Confessional
While you’re in this area, you can get a taste of the rich history and extraordinary natural beauty. We recommend these two particular stops before or after your visit to Hidden South.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park
The National Park Service operates six sites under this banner, including the Bataria Preserve in nearby Marrero. This is where the half-mile Bayou Coquille Trail, which starts at a prehistoric Native American village, snakes through unspoiled wilderness. Ancient relics include shell mounds and middens that elevated structures above sea level.
The Chalmette Historic Battlefield, on the site of the famous Battle of New Orleans, also is part of the park.
San Bernardo National Scenic Byway
For a broader perspective, travel this 36-mile byway in St. Bernard Parish. You can learn about casinos that once thrived here and the sugarcane plantations that fueled the historic Domino Sugar Refinery. Don’t miss the impressive canopy of trees at Dockville Oaks.
You probably know by now about the French and Spanish periods in New Orleans. On this illuminating side trip, you’ll learn about the significant influence of the Isleños people from the Canary Islands.
Pro Tip: While New Orleans is known for its party scene, these are 5 Reasons to Avoid Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
Best Places to Stay Near the Hidden South Confessional
If you want to stay overnight to experience more in this one-of-a-kind region, we certainly won’t blame you. Here are three terrific options that are in the area and suit different styles.
St. Bernard State Park
Near the town of Poydras, this riverside park has 51 campsites with water and electrical hookups. Each site has a picnic table and grill, and a bathhouse has hot showers and laundry. The park also has a nature trail and a boat launch.
The location is another big plus. The 358-acre park is right alongside the Mississippi River and has lagoons for more opportunities for recreation or relaxation. Restaurants and retail stores, including a grocery, are just minutes away.
The Lookout Inn
Back in the city’s Bywater district, this small inn is historic, quaint, and free-spirited. Each suite in this stately but small converted mansion has a queen-sized bed and private bath. Guests can also stretch out in a spacious living room area and make a splash in the cozy backyard pool.
The guest rooms’ whimsical decor reflects the personalities and interests of the owners, who also live on-site. You can book a room with an Elvis or Mardi Gras theme or even go Bollywood.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Chalmette
This modern hotel might fit the bill perfectly if you’re looking for more conventional comforts. It’s in the relatively laidback suburb of Chalmette but still just six miles from the lively heart of New Orleans.
The pet-friendly hotel has 78 rooms and suites with amenities like internet, refrigerators, and big-screen TVs. They also have laundry facilities and serve a complimentary full breakfast each morning.
Confess Your Secrets at Hidden South
Hidden South Confessional is a welcoming place, with groovy music playing and thousands of items for sale. Brent Walker’s inventory of creative art pieces, orphaned antiques, and oddball bits of curios attracts streams of gawkers and collectors.
But, the little room upstairs may be the real treasure (or at least a big conversation piece.) Besides being able to browse among the eye-catching merchandise, visitors can slip off discreetly to reveal their own hidden truth.
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