FIRST IN PRINT: Grant Awarded to Houmas House Foundation for Riverside Tourism Complex

Staff reports

 Houmas House Foundation, a non-profit organization, has been awarded a federal 2010 Scenic Byways Discretionary Grant Thursday worth more than $5 million to be used for a steamboat museum/interpretive center on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Houmas House Foundation spokesperson Kevin Kelly received notification from Senator Mary Landrieu’s office that the foundation was Louisiana’s recipient for the grant totaling $5,182,952. Kelly said the grant will be used for the Louisiana River Road Steamboat Overlook Interpretative Center at Burnside Landing.

Beth James, chief executive assistant to Parish President Tommy Martinez, said the foundation had applied for the grant in February of 2010. She said in order to assist in the success of the foundation’s endeavor, the parish created a cultural district which incorporated the area where the museum complex would be located. She said the cultural district would provide tax credit availability for the foundation.

“This future landmark will change the landscape of Ascension Parish’s tourism market for generations,” James said.

The riverside complex will be located across River Road LA Hwy. 942 from the Houmas House Plantation. It will be accessed by an elevated, covered walkway from the plantation grounds parking lot to the top of the Mississippi River levee. The walkway will be called the Plantation Walk.

Norman’s Chart of the Lower Mississippi River will be etched in the floor of the walkway giving visitors a sense of the river’s location to the local area. This map was commissioned and drawn in 1858 by A. Persac, who traveled the river in a skiff, descending every mile while drawing every plantation line and taking down every name and landmark of both banks of the river, according to design information.

After reaching the top of the levee, visitors may enter the Warehouse Exhibit Hall which will include historical exhibits of plantations and steamboats among others as well as an amphitheater for live performances.

The Steamboat Lookout will be located next to the Warehouse Exhibit Hall. It will be a sized replica of the promenade deck and pilot house deck of a grand steamboat. The Steamboat Lookout will include exhibits of life along the Mississippi River, from leisure travel to the business and commerce of the plantations.