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For those of you that know me the following statement is the way I describe my self; “If it is old, rusty, paint peeling off, buried or will not crank, I have something to do with it!” In 2007, I was finally after nearly 50 years on this earth able to find my dream job. I believe it is not how much money you make but how much you enjoy what you do that is important in life. So in that respect I am finally where I need to be.
In January 2007, after several attempts by the Dorcheat Historical Association to get me involved helping them raise money, I went to work for them. As some of you know I had just about volunteered myself into the poor house and I just couldn’t do anything else and work selling cars too. So I went to the association President; Mr. Thad Andress and asked for a job. That same day a meeting of association board members was held and I was hired. I was so excited and thrilled to be able to finally do the things that I love, plan events and to help preserve history and raise awareness of our history in Webster Parish.
The Dorcheat Historical Association Museum wasn’t even open yet and I went to work the next day trying to figure out how to raise money, awareness and gain support from our community. Six months later after much hard work from many, many people we opened the doors, to what I think is one of the best local museums around. When a new visitor walks in the door, usually the first word out of their mouth is “WOW”!
With the direction of Museum Exhibit designer local artist Larry Milford has transformed our building at 116 Pearl Street into a “step back in time”. It reminds me of going into some of the exhibits at Disney World. We are first class and have Larry Milford to thank for a lot of it. It truly is a work of art from the front door to the back door. It is also a huge work in progress and will be for quite some time.
Our museum is a timeline of our parish. We start with our earliest inhabitants the Indians and move on to our pioneer families and early settlements. The importance of cotton to our area is highlighted with one of the last square bales from the area. We even have a log house inside the museum that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. From there we have the Civil War and Reconstruction, Black History, Historic Homes, Famous People (too many to even list in this story) Education, Disasters, Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Churches, Fire and Police, Commerce and Theaters just to name a few of our wonderful exhibits that are in the works. Sound effects and live footage add to your overall museum visit.
Funding is always an issue with museums. We have been fortunate so far to have some generous local support and also big support from the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau. Historic venues are one of the biggest tourism draw in most states and Louisiana is no exception. We now have a place for visitors to come. One day soon will have a theater room, equipped with surround sound and a large screen monitor to view educational and historic presentations. We are so excited about the plans for this room we can hardly wait to get started on it. We have had several financial benefactors designate there money for this new room.
Other fundraising projects include our two cookbooks. Our first cookbook “A Taste of Yesterday” not only has 400 recipes it includes historic pictures and history of Webster Parish. This first book sold over 500 copies in 10 days when it first hit the shelves in 2007. In 2008 our second book told of early education of Webster parish “A Taste Of Class” was just as big of a hit as our first book. In fact I think now people will expect a new book from us every year. These books have been given as gifts to a few people you may have heard of; President Bush, Allison Krauss, Secretary of State Jay Dardenne. I have mailed books all over the country! We still have a few available and you can go to our web site http://www.museuminminden.blogspot.com/ to see the information about them and the rest of the exciting things going on at the museum.
This year the Minden Press Herald voted the museum the number 10 item in the top 10 things that happened in 2008. To me that was extremely exciting. One of the reasons we were voted in the top 10 is the monthly events that started in March of 2008 and ran until November of 2008. These second Monday of the month events are called “A Night for the Museum” and are held at Christopher’s located just around the corner from the museum at 615 Main Street in Minden, Louisiana, right in the heart of Minden’s Historic Downtown area. These events take place at 6:00 P.M. with refreshments and socializing first and at 6:30 our guest speaker begins. These historic events have featured two men that had grandfathers that fought in the Civil War, one gentleman that began his love of the railroad at 16, a local author of a book written about a 1916 murder, the Bossier Parish Historian, the Webster Parish Historian, a trip down memory lane back to the 1950s, a touching night filled with stories about the immigrant families that came to our area with nothing but a few dollars, WWII Veterans and much more.
January 12, 2009 our second season began with WWII Veteran Mr. John S. Willis. This 90 year old veteran flew over 30 amazing missions in WWII. February’s focus on our Black History and Dr. Roy G. Phillips’ amazing research of his family back to Africa and his work on our Black History exhibit will be an important night to remember. More speakers are lined up for the year so you don’t want to miss a single one. If you do miss one, we have a DVD available for $10 each of our speakers. You can read about our events also on our web site and in our new Newsletter “Legacies and Legends”. If you aren’t on our mailing list please give me a call at 318-423-0192 and I will add you to our data base.
If you have items that you think would be of interest to the museum please drop by or give me a call. The museum hours are Closed on Monday, Open Tuesday – Friday 10 A.M. – 1 P.M. closed from 1-2 for lunch and back from 2 P.M. – 4 P.M. Saturday Hours are 10 A.M. – Noon. We are also open for special meetings and group tours by appointment. Cost is $4.00 Adults $2.00 Children with special group rates available.
Something is always happening at the museum. Remember this is not my museum it is your museum so help us make history happen in 2009. For more information visit http://www.museuminminden.blogspot.com/