803 S. Third St. – Leesville, LA 71466 HOURS: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Tuesday – Sunday
The Museum of West Louisiana is housed in the historic Leesville Kansas City Southern Depot building, built in 1916. From 1916 until 1968, the Kansas City Southern railroad served as a primary travel and transportation center for the city of Leesville and all of the surrounding area, but eventually rail travel declined and the building fell into a state of disrepair. On October 25, 1984, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It opened to the public in July, 1987 as an autonomous organization with the purpose of preserving and displaying artifacts illustrative of the history, culture, folk art and resources of Vernon Parish and the West Central area of Louisiana.
Items of interest include a huge collection of archaeological artifacts, logging and railroad memorabilia, clothing and household items, and special displays. Recent additions include the P.O.W. Paintings, a group of scenes painted on the walls of a local hotel by German prisoners of war during World War II. The Museum Gift Shop showcases many handmade and donated items.
There are a number of other restored buildings on the grounds providing examples of the architectural styles which could be found in the area in the 1800 – early 1900s period.
(above)Shotgun House – the 3 room house contains displays of (1) educational materials (2) communications including Vernon Parish’s first television set, radios, stereos, record players and associated media such as records,8mm film and so forth (3) kitchen display including wood stove, cooking implements, old style canned goods, sewing machines
(right & below)The Alexander Airhart Home “dog trot” style house from 1858
(below) Old style barn constructed by area vocational-technical school carpentry students.
(left & below)Elbert Dyess Building This building contains a working scale model of a sawmill and numerous other models of houses and businesses built from the memory and photographs of Mr. Dyess. Literally a lifetime’s work in modeling buildings of the area.
(right & below)China Grove Church/School originally located near Otis, LA in the late 1800s.
Pioneer Park located at the Southern end of the property is available for picnics, cookouts, special events, or just sitting and relaxing.
Source material: Photographs by Frank Dutton / Toledo-Bend.Com – Text directly from or paraphrased from Museum of West Louisiana brochure and/or Vernon Parish Tourism Commission – http://www.VentureVernon.com