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Dorcheat Historical Association Museum

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Title: Dorcheat Historical Association Museum  
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Dorcheat Historical Association Museum





The Dorcheat Historical Association Museum is a preservation of 19th and 20th century north Louisiana history and culture located in Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in the northwestern portion of the state.

Overview

The museum is a block south of U.S. Highway 80, which runs parallel to Main Street in Minden. Highway 80 began in 1914 as the "Dixie Overland Highway" to link the American South with the Pacific Coast.[1] The historical association and the museum are named for nearby Dorcheat Bayou, a 122-mile stream that runs from southwestern Arkansas into Lake Bistineau and is sometimes called "the heart of Webster Parish".[2]

The site at 116 Pearl Street was formerly occupied by Major Office Supply, owned by the Minden businessman and former journalist Major Louis dePingre[3] (1928–2007).[4]

In the 1920s, the museum site was occupied by the defunct Rex Theater, owned by Edgar Beach Hands (1905–1972).[4] The Rex later moved to Main Street until it was razed in the early 1970s to provide additional parking for Minden Medical Center. During the 1950s, the former Joy Theater was next door to what is now the museum.[5]

Exhibits and programs

The museum opened in June 2008[3] and uses the motto "Preserving Our Past for Our Future".[1] It features pioneer artifacts, including a model steamboat on Dorcheat Bayou, a log cabin, furniture, clothing, and material from the American Civil War era. There are exhibits on local theaters, none of which still exist, and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company outlet on Pine Street owned by the family of Larry Hunter (1896–1971).[4] The facility no longer manufactures drinks in Minden but serves as a company distribution point. Another exhibit is dedicated to the year 1933, when Minden was struck during the Great Depression with a bank failure, a fire, and a major tornado.[6] Businessman Thad Andress, descendant of a prominent family which formerly held the Ford dealership in Minden, and Schelley Brown Francis, the museum director, have been seeking to add new exhibits in the remaining available space.[3]

The Dorcheat Historical Association holds meetings on the second Monday of each month, with area speakers discussing various aspects of local history. The gatherings, called "Night for the Museum", are free to the public, but donations are encouraged.[3] In the spring of 2008, Webster Nation spoke on local railroad history. On August 10, 2009, Carleton H. Prothro, a retired colonel and former social studies teacher and administrator at Minden High School, delivered a well-received monologue on humorous experiences from his educational career.[7] On October 12, 2009, Lonnie Milton Simpson, former principal of the defunct William G. Stewart Elementary School in Minden, discussed the history of his native Cotton Valley. On the weekend of November 6, 2009, the museum held a 1930's-style dance marathon at the Minden Civic Center on Broadway Street as part of fund-raising activities.[5]

The museum is active in the annual "Ghost Walk" held the second Saturday of November at the historic Minden Cemetery.[8]

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday-Friday and closed on Saturday (but open on Saturday by appointment for special meetings and functions). Free Admission. Group appointments are available.[3]

Related matters

Minden has an Historic Residential District in a section of East and West Street near Academy Park and the Webster Parish Library and the eastern parts of Main and Broadway streets.[9]

There is a second history museum in Minden, the Germantown Colony and Museum, which focuses on a Utopian settlement that flourished northeast of Minden from 1835 to 1871.[10]

References

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