Visitors to Vermilionville have long lacked direction when strolling through the self-guided museum. But that’s changing with an introduction to the village now offered at the entrance, in the Maison des Cultures.
“The artisans and craftsmen are in here doing their crafts and attempting to tell everyone about the cultures,” said Annie Mahoney, Vermilionville registrar and soon to be curator. “But they only have so much time. We wanted a spot where we could put all of that so people can get more information before walking through the village.”
Vermilionville’s Maison des Cultures is a 19th-century home from the Carencro area that now will feature a permanent exhibit introducing visitors to the Acadian, Creole and Native American cultures before they tour the village.
“We have some documents missing about the actual origins (of the home), but we believe it is circa 1850s and maybe moved from the Pont Brulé area on the outskirts of Carencro,” Mahoney said. “It belonged to the Coussan family since the 1920s.”
She said the house has been at Vermilionville since 2002. She said changes were made to restore the house to look more like what it would have looked like when it was originally built.
Multiple panels are displayed in each room explaining the contents of the room. Artifacts in the Native American room were donated by the Avogel Tribe, of Avoyelles Parish.
“We try to give as much information about the history and provide primary sources and really great images from special collections around the area,” Mahoney said.
“We want people to know where we’re coming from with our structures, the crafts we do, and let people know what we have and give a brief introduction to the cultures we represent.”
Mahoney acknowledged that Vermilionville has long needed an introduction to the village — something that would provide international guests and other visitors with the background of what they are seeing as they traverse the grounds.
“We try to keep it a living history museum,” Mahoney said. “Hopefully, this will give people an idea and then they can go through and really enjoy the village as well as be a little more edified on the history of the region.”
She said it took a long time to the do the research, design and writings for an introduction to the village. The Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, the Louisiana Division of Archaeology, the Bayou Vermilion District Board of Commissioners and the Vermilionville Living History Museum Foundation made the new development possible.
“We’ve worked on this since the beginning of the summer,” Mahoney said. “This will be visitors’ first stop. And then, when they head to the back, they hopefully say, ‘Oh yeah. I remember that from the panel.’ ”