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Celebrating ten years of history

by Minden Press-Herald

The annual fund raiser gala for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum is fast approaching its Sept. 10, 2018 date.

The evening consists of a silent auction with heavy hors d’oeuvres. Cost is $25 prepay and $30 at the door the day of event.

“It is a great way to highlight your business by helping the museum with a silent auction item,” said museum director Schelley Francis.

“These items can consist of gift baskets, gift certificates, art work, handmade items, services such as lawn work, haircuts, facials, tire rotations, cakes, cookies, you name it we have had it at the our fundraisers.”

This year, the Dorcheat Historical Museum is celebrating its Tenth Anniversary of sharing Webster Parish history at 116 Pearl Street.

In 2007 work began to push forward with a museum that could stand the test of time.

Francis was hired to raise awareness of why Webster Parish needed a museum.

Up to this point of the 30-plus years of existence, the Dorcheat Historical Association had never had a full-time employee. Volunteer efforts had tried for many years to establish a museum.

The use of buildings around Minden had been donated to house artifacts over the years with various reasons of not working out. A building was finally acquired on Pearl Street.

During the years before 2007 this location was used for various things that housed a bit of museum related items. Then it became a vacant building in need of much repair and work.

“The agreement when I was hired was that I had one year to raise awareness and funds to get a museum off the ground,” said Francis.

“ I worked from home on a computer I had won at the St. Jude auction. I had some success with the Minden Cemetery Ghost Walks that John Agan and I had worked on together.

“I lived in the Minden Historic Residential District and served as president for a good many years. It all tied together for me, the museum, the homes, and the cemetery….. it is all about our rich and fascinating history.

“John Agan and I have worked closely on so many projects. I felt with his mind for history and my promotion and sales experience we would be able to share and work on lots of historic related projects to get a museum going in full swing.”

The first programs for the museum that really showed off the local area were the “Nights for the Museum” speaker series. Before the museum opened these were held downtown in another building on Main Street.

Later, when the back room of the museum was completed the name changed and the “Nights at the Museum” began.

Since its inception in 2008 the museum has had 62 speaker programs. All of these have been recorded onto DVD by volunteer Phil Demaline.

“So much history has been captured on these DVDs that we can offer a glimpse into the past for many years to come.” said Francis.

Today, the museum is enjoyed by visitors far and wide. From classroom field trips, travel bus tours, red hat ladies, churches, scouting, and retirement center groups we have had thousands of visitors in the last 10 years.

What people see today including the building that we were able to purchase next door is roughly $500,000 spent. That includes the purchase of the buildings, the renovation, the inside construction and exhibit work as well as the new roofs and heat and air units.

“We pay as we go,” Francis said.

“We will never jeopardize what has been built by over spending on future project. Thad Andress and Marcus Wren were driving forces behind the museum succeeding. They were determined to leave a legacy of not only their family history but everyone else’s too.

“We have had a great working board all along the way since 2007.”

Today board members included the following people; Louise Snook as President, Marcel Vandenoord as Vice-President, Janet LaBruyere as Treasurer, Ann Harlan as recording secretary, John Agan Webster Parish Historian, Eddie Hammontree Museum archivist, Charlotte Martin, Richard Campbell, Cora Lou Robinson Dr. Roy G. Phillips, Becky Marvin, Janice Mourad, Kay Elzen, Ben Baldwin, Dianne McGuire, Jo McCullough, Charlotte Jones, Mary Ann Hamilton, Lucy Adkins, Rachel Miller.

Museum hours are Tuesday – Friday 10:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. closed from 1-2 for lunch then open from 2:00 P.M. – 4 P.M. also opened on Saturday for group tours that are arranged by appointment at least one week prior. For more information or if you would like to donate something please contact Schelley Francis at 318-423-0192.

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