Published On: Mon, Mar 19th, 2018

Volunteers help turning the Old House into natural history museum

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QUARTIER D’ORLEANS – Just outside of French Quarter, the Old House is coming back to life again. Volunteers from both sides of the  island spend their Saturdays cleaning up the place and getting it ready for a lively new exhibition.

Disaster struck this location on March 3, 2015, when the Old House’s resident, Pierre Beauperthuy returned from an evening out on the Dutch side. He had been dancing at Munchies Bar and Restaurant in Sucker Garden, anticipating his 65th birthday that was just six days away. But that evening, armed robbers were waiting for him when he came home. Elsewhere in the neighborhood, residents heard the two gunshots that prematurely ended Beauperthuy’s life.

Now Mark Yokoyama and Jenn Yerkes of the Les Fruits de Mer Association have found an arrangement with the Beauperthuy-heirs for the use of the Old House. It will become the new location for Amuseum Naturalis, formerly established in a small building on the Boulevard de Grand Case where it attracted more than 10,000 visitors in two seasons.

That the museum has a lot of support appears from a fundraising action organized via GlobalGiving.org. Within the first week, Les Fruit de Mer raised more than $8,000 from 69 donors. The target is $10,000.

But on Saturday’s it’s not money but the preparedness by volunteers to shed some good old sweat that does the trick at the Old House. That the place was a mess when Yokoyama and Yerkes first set eyes on it is probably the understatement on the century. But the many hands of the volunteers that went to work on their free Saturday are slowly but surely turning the place into what will become a charming place to visit – for locals and visitors alike.

Last Saturday volunteers cleared what must have been Beauperthuy’s bedroom and an adjoining space that housed, among other things, a small shower and a washing machine.

After just a couple of hours of dragging debris to a container and salvaging usable building materials, the volunteers could say with some conviction: what a difference a day makes.

The work is far from complete, but things are moving in the right direction. This upcoming Saturday is the next opportunity for volunteers to help make this sympathetic project a reality.

Inside the main building, and in the building to the right of it, a lot of the odds and ends Beauperthuy collected over his lifetime is still in place. Currently rather disorganized, it will all get its place in the new museum.

The Old House will become a natural history museum but it will also include community projects like gardens, a composting center and a native plants nursery.

The photos with this article give an impression of the collection Pierre Beauperthuy left behind for the generations that come after him.

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Photo caption: Photos of the contents of the Old House left behind by Pierre Beauperthuy. Photos by Hilbert Haar.