In 1883, a French priest, Rev. Auguste Vincente Eby arrived in the settlement of Church Point to take over the pastorship of the Catholic church. His first order of business was to build a new church structure – the existing one was built as a Jesuit missionary chapel years before. That task completed, Father Eby built a home for himself in 1887.
That stately building, the parsonage (presbytère in French), housed the town’s priests for one hundred years. Now the ancient structure, carefully restored to its original configuration, serves as Church Point’s museum. The 40 by 40 feet building is surrounded on all sides by a wide and comfortable porch and has walls constructed of bousillage, a filling of clay mixed with Spanish moss.
Le Vieux Presbytère Museum tells the story of Church Point, a predominantly Cajun community on the prairies of Acadia Parish. Church Point is far older than the old Presbytère. The first settlers received Spanish land grants along Bayou Plaquemine Brulée and began populating the area by the 1780’s. The Jesuit priests at Grand Coteau, while ministering to the local inhabitants, established a crude chapel here in 1848, and it was around this little church that a town developed.
Le Vieux Presbytère celebrates the history of the town of Church Point and of the rural farming community surrounding it.
Given that the town grew up around the original Jesuit chapel, artifacts from the original Catholic church, along with those from other churches of the community, are prominently displayed.
Well into the 1950’s, Church Point residents’ primary mode of transportation was the horse and buggy. To celebrate the reputation as the “Buggy Capital,” an antique buggy fills one room, along with memorabilia from the town’s Buggy Festivals.
The Church Point area produced a large number of notable Cajun musicians, for which the town is justifiably proud. Some of these musicians’ life histories and other old-time music paraphernalia are highlighted.
The Cajun version of the Mardi Gras has long been practiced among the French inhabitants here, including the modern celebration of the Courir, with its costumed horsemen traversing the countryside in search of chickens and overall good time.
Displays from the community’s civic, economic and social institutions form a large part of the museum. Mementos of early landmark businesses, schools, politics, and organizations are well represented. Notable displays include the original 1927 stage curtain from Church Point High School, with its listing of businesses on it, and biographies of local leaders.
Agriculture was long the major industry of the Church Point area. By turns, the propagation of cattle, cotton, sweet potatoes and soybeans fueled the town’s economy. So, therefore, farming implements and other artifacts of rural life tell of the lives and livelihoods of much of the population.
The home life of our forebears is an important aspect of our history. The museum displays period costumes, toys, household implements, and other fascinating artifacts.
Le Vieux Presbytère welcomes you!
205 Rue Iry Lejeune, Church Point, Louisiana 70525
Open Thursdays, 3-5pm or by appointment
Contact Harold Fonte, Curator