Anne Butler and Norman Ferachi have always shared a common interest in preserving the rich history of West Feliciana Parish. And what started as a volunteer project by the two friends has culminated in a new book, “St. Francisville and West Feliciana Parish,” part of the Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing.
The project began when Butler, who owns Butler-Greenwood Plantation, and Ferachi, who until recently lived in Evergreenzine on Ferdinand Street, volunteered to archive, catalog and digitize the many old photos collected over the years by the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum.
Because of the fragile condition of the photos, they wanted to preserve them and eventually make them available online for future generations to enjoy.
“We’ve done close to 900 images so far, which is just a drop in the bucket, and we look forward to scanning and archiving many more,” said Butler, who estimates she’s written 20 books. “The digital archive will serve to protect fragile original images and will allow writers and historians to access the collection online from any location, which is extremely important for authors and journalists writing about the area from distant places.”
While processing the images, Butler and Ferachi were approached by the publisher from South Carolina about writing the book. The result of their effort is an interesting 128-page paperback volume, filled with more than 250 images of the colorful history of West Feliciana Parish.
“I give a lot of credit to Museum Director Helen Williams and the historical society for understanding how important these old pictures are,” Ferachi said. “We used many of those photos and others from some wonderful private collections and state collections for our book.”
The book is divided into six broad chapters: Early History, Agriculture and Lush Landscape, Amazing Architecture, Commerce, Notable Folks and Community Life. Each of the vintage black-and-white photographs is accompanied by a descriptive caption that gives the reader a detailed glimpse of what life and culture was like in the region’s past, including many images made public for the first time.
“This book project came along at such an opportune moment, when we had already started working with the old images, and we hope the book will be a good steady seller for the museum gift shop and other area outlets,” Butler said.
She said the archiving project continues for the museum, and she encourages anyone with photos to bring them in to be archived.
Butler and Ferachi will hold their first book signing from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday during Christmas in the Country at the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum, 11757 Ferdinand St., St. Francisville.
Another book signing is scheduled for Dec. 13 at Barnes and Noble at Citiplace in Baton Rouge.