Iberville Museum to bring Atchafalaya Basin to Plaquemine

Andrew Green agreen@postsouth.com
The Edward B. Schwing houseboat to serve as the crown jewel of the upcoming Atchafalaya Room exhibit at the Iberville Museum.

Iberville Museum Director Elizabeth Brantley and the Museum board members have been hard at work since summer 2013 on the long-awaited Atchafalaya Room which they hope will become a reality at the end of 2016.

The Atchafalaya Room exhibit will serve as the crown jewel of the Iberville Museum and will find a permanent home in a separate building behind the museum.

One of the main attractions to the exhibit will be a replicated houseboat built by Gene Seneca of Grosse Tete, whose family roots trace back to life in Bayou Chene.

“I’m so glad this is going to happen,” Seneca said.  “It seems like everyone is interested in the Atchafalaya Basin because of all of these television shows, but now we’ve got a place for visitors to see what the Basin is like.  I’m excited we now have that avenue.”

The house boat built by Seneca is made of pieces of cypress pulled from the very swamps the exhibit highlights.  “This houseboat is a source of pride for me,” Seneca said, “for it to be made of old cypress pulled from the Atchafalaya.”

The houseboat, named the “Edward B. Schwing” by an auction winner at one of the museum’s fundraisers, will give visitors an idea of what it was like to live in a houseboat in the deep swamps of the basin.

Others also assisted in building the new exhibit, including the addition of the famous putt-putt boat donated to the museum years ago along with a genuine 8 horsepower Nadler motor restored and donated by Ora Mendoza, Dana Mendoza, Sr., Larry Prejean, J.B. Castagnos and Tom Pirie.

“This is a fully functioning putt-putt boat,” Elizabeth Brantley said.  “We could take this out to the Atchafalaya now if we wanted to.”  Brantley is excited for what the exhibit will mean to the parish and its inhabitants.

“A lot of people associate the Atchafalaya Basin with the Lafayette area, but Iberville Parish is a huge part of the Atchafalaya,” Brantley said.  “A lot of those old communities are gone now and unable to share their traditions so we thought it was extremely important to interpret that with this exhibit.”

Brantley and the Museum board members are currently in search of more additions from locals to find a permanent home in the upcoming exhibit.  They are looking for artifacts ranging from hunting and fishing equipment to stories of the Atchafalaya.  Look for the new addition to open at the end of the year.