Houmas House tops off Louisiana's Great River Road Museum

Halen Doughty

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and Houmas House Plantation and Garden owner Kevin Kelly marked the topping-off of Louisiana's Great River Road Museum and Interpretive Center at a ceremony on Friday, April 27. Nungesser said this museum will highlight the Mississippi River and its history in growing cities in South Louisiana.

"One of our great assets in Louisiana is the Mississippi River, and we don't have enough access where our visitors can view the glorious Mississippi River and learn the history," said Nungesser. "It was instrumental in developing New Orleans and many of the cities up river from there. It's a great story to tell."

Located on the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, stretching 3,000 miles from Minnesota to the Gulf of the Mexico, the museum will join the ranks of other nationally significant Mississippi River Interpretive Centers at Dubuque, Iowa and Memphis, Tennessee. Nungesser said the rich history of the river will be on display at Houmas House. He is hopeful this new museum will become a stop for river cruises that set sail from the Port of New Orleans.

"They will be able to make more stops along the Mississippi River in Louisiana and take day trips to places like Houmas House and other great tourist attractions around Louisiana via the Mississippi River," said Nungesser.

The premier museum will highlight the history of the Lower Mississippi River and its influence on Louisiana’s culture. This is the first public-private partnership that gives our state the opportunity to promote the destination and guarantees the sustainability of the museum with foundation support.

Nungesser said Kelly has been a great ambassador for Louisiana. He said the Houmas House owner put up more than one million dollars of his own money towards the project. The Lt. Governor said that money was instrumental in drawing down federal dollars to cover the remaining cost of the new facility.

"Had it not been for his vision and financial commitment, this would have never happened," said Nungesser. "It's one of a kind for the Mississippi River, and we're just honored to have such a great partner committing his money to this center and having the vision to be able to get that federal grant here in Louisiana."

Nungesser added that during these tough budget times, the project would not have been possible without federal funding. In April 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $5.6 million National Scenic Byways grant for the museum at Burnside Landing to the Houmas House Foundation. The project is officially known as the "Louisiana's Great River Road Museum and Interpretive Center." The State Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism administers the program.

Nungesser said this is a tremendous tool to help grow tourism in Ascension Parish.

"People will come view the river, learn about it, and then hopefully venture north and south along the Mississippi River to learn more about some of the exciting places we have in Louisiana," said Nungesser. "I think it's going to continue to be something that is going to draw tourists out of the big cities to see something new and exciting."

With the new facility under construction, Nungesser said they're excited about promoting it and bringing more tourists to the area. He said what makes Louisiana so great are the generous ambassadors of the state who want to partner and find ways to make their cities even more attractive to visitors. He said everyone is excited about this new development can't wait for it to open.

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