Calling all volunteers: 1811 Kid Ory Historic House hosts recovery days & archaeological event

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 20, 2021

LAPLACE — Community members are invited to explore and help preserve the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House, whether by volunteering for recovery projects or participating in archaeological dig days on the grounds.
Volunteers are needed to give the museum a much-needed face-lift due to the devastation from Hurricane Ida. Recovery days will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. October 23, October 30, November 13 and November 20. Light and moderate tasks include gardening, painting the porches and ceiling, brush and debris clearing, stabilizing pieux fences and reglazing windows.
While the museum components, including artifacts, furniture and informational displays were thankfully spared by the storm, Operations & Programs manager Charlotte Jones reported that the grounds received significant damage. Hurricane Ida claimed three century-old Magnolia trees, tore down fences, ripped the carriage house in half, and damaged the roof of the old horse stables. Other damage included the loss of several glass panes as doors and windows flew off the hinges. Some water damage was accrued in the house, though Jones said this was mostly cosmetic, and some ceilings will need to be repainted in the museum.
No one will be asked to work outside of their expertise or comfort zone. The 1811 Kid Ory Historic House is also welcoming volunteers who would like to do recovery work with neighbors in the surrounding Woodland Quarters.
Local students are welcome come out and earn service hours. Students from Tulane’s Center for Public Service will also be participating in recovery efforts at the site.
Community members with a passion for history are invited to dig deeper into the past during archaeology days scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. November 13 and November 20. Volunteers can help archaeologists from the University of New Orleans and LSU conduct shovel tests on the farm behind the museum.
Kenetha Harrington, a Ph.D. candidate at LSU, and Dr. Ryan Gray from UNO began leading Phase I testing (also known as shovel tests) with UNO students on the museum grounds last spring. Additional shovel tests are being completed with access to the farm and the historic “oak alley” on the old Woodland Plantation grounds.
According to Jones, shovel tests are used to identify areas for future investigation and to help researchers get an idea of the historical deposits left on a site.
Volunteers will assist with digging, screening for artifacts and sorting materials.
Please mask up, bring your own gloves and bug spray, and make sure to wear closed toe shoes and long pants for all activities. Due to COVID-19, food will not be provided, so a packed lunch is encouraged.
“We hope that the upcoming shovel tests will provide us insight about the enslaved who resided on the Woodland Plantation before the Civil War, since we have very little written record on their lives here, apart from the 1811 German Coast uprising,” Jones said. “Artifacts can range in material and age: from brick foundations to broken ceramics, building materials such as nails, mule shoes, tools, beads, pottery, and even the rare Picayune.”
While a plethora of information about the plantation’s former owners has been made available, Jones said archaeological tests can help researchers formulate a more complete history of the site. The grounds are significant to the development of LaPlace and have served as the backdrop of two major historical events studied throughout the world – the 1811 Slave Rebellion and the rise of Jazz pioneer Kid Ory.
“We hope that our community members, who are interested in learning more about this genesis will join us for the archaeology weekends — and that volunteers who are interested in preserving the historic integrity of the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House, the Woodland Plantation grounds and LaPlace will help us get back into shape by volunteering for recovery projects,” Jones said.
Please use the following link to register for recovery days or archaeological “dig days”: https://forms.gle/aruNrdCwYgfkYTXc6
Interested volunteers can also obtain the registration form by using the contact page at https://www.1811kidoryhistorichouse.com/contact
The 1811 Kid Ory Historic House is located at 1128 Highway 628 in LaPlace. For more information, please visit 1811kidoryhistorichouse.com or call 985-359-7300.