Mrs. Ethel Claiborne Dameron conceived the idea of a historical association museum for the parish in June of 1968. She had originally persuaded the Police Jury, the parish’s governing body, to save the remaining rooms of a former courthouse to serve as the parish library. Then, when the library moved into larger quarters, Mrs. Dameron was successful in convincing the Police Jury to make the space available for a parish museum.
The Historical Association was incorporated as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization exclusively for educational and literary purposes. Its activities are directed toward promoting an interest in history, especially that of West Baton Rouge Parish, by encouraging research, collection of materials illustrating past and present activities of the parish, and by presenting programs and exhibitions at the West Baton Rouge Museum.
Financial support for the museum comes from a minimum property milage levied on the parish. Support for the Historical Association comes from contributions and memberships in the organization. Fundraisers, such as the Sugar Country Ramble and the St. Patrick’s Day Bridge Tournament provide funds for projects and on-going collection maintenance.
The original section of the museum was opened on April 21, 1974 and named for Mrs. Ethel Claiborne Dameron. Formerly the records vault of the third Courthouse (built in 1882), the Dameron Rooms are constructed of walls one foot thick and made of “tabby”, a mixture of ground shells, sand and water making a kind of cement. The columns and gallery across the front of the building are Greek Revival style additions.
The museum has continued to evolve through generous donations of individuals and companies. Our complex has increased to include the Paul D. Perkins and Francis J. Whitehead galleries; a pre-Civil War Allendale Plantation cabin; the circa 1830 Aillet House; and a new 5,000 square foot addition providing a new education room and a large brick gallery to highlight our parish and Mississippi River history.
Our permanent collection contains over 1300 photographs and 3800 objects of historical significance to the parish. Through donations and purchases the organization continues to enrich the collection.
The West Baton Rouge Historical Association has worked hard to recognize historic landmarks throughout the Parish. Recently, they erected this landmark which commemorates the site of the original 3rd courthouse, which later became the parish’s first library, and later still, the parish’s first museum!
• Early notification of Museum sponsored events
• Écoutez, our organization newsletter
• Opportunities to work “behind the scenes” with the West Baton Rouge Museum Staff to provide quality exhibits and programs for all West Baton Rouge citizens
• “Friends” members enjoy special tours arranged on request; use of the museum for 2 events a year; recognition in Écoutez and on museum foyer display
You can download, view and print the Membership form to join the West Baton Rouge Historical Association. This form is in Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF). You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print the form. You can download a free copy by clicking this link: Historical Association Membership Form