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Germantown Colony Museum reopens in Minden, 1800s artifacts preserved

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Germantown Colony Museum in Minden, Louisiana, reopened Thursday after a year-long construction of a visitor’s center.

The new dogtrot-style building showcases German settlers who established a commune in North Louisiana beginning in the mid-1800s in a quest to avoid religious persecution.

Lynn Dorsey, executive director of the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the $512,000 project ensures that artifacts will be preserved.

“They were exposed to all the elements. There was nowhere to keep them preserved. Now, we have an exhibit area for that and we have handicap-accessible bathrooms and ramps, which are really important for tour groups,” Dorsey said.

Museum director Jean Doerge saw this project through every step, beginning in 2008 when she worked as a state lawmaker to secure funding for the building. Webster Parish was able to raise more than $60,000 through in-kind donations of plumbing and electrical along with other monetary donations. This was the last museum added to the state system and more than 100 artifacts are on display.

“We are telling a part of history that’s almost been lost. We’re opening that up to not only adults but children as well,” Doerge said, who helped dozens of tourists see Germantown Colony last month even though the visitor’s center was still under construction.

Dorsey says museum-goers get a sense of how disciplined these settlers were, even making silk from silkworms and spinning it on a wheel.

“Once you pass through the visitor’s center and through big gates, it opens up and you see the colony and the existing buildings as they stand currently. You see the beautiful, vast hillside beyond and the actual buildings that still remain. That’s where the actual colony was,” Dorsey said.

The museum is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday shuttle buses will transport visitors from Minden’s Fasching Fifth Season Celebration that recognizes the town’s distinctive German heritage. The event begins at 10 a.m.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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