his antebellum townhouse in Franklin’s City Park has been home to large families, and was used by the townspeople as a recreation hall and location for community dances. After years of neglect, it was in danger of demolition.
In 1963, a group of concerned citizens formed the St. Mary Chapter/Louisiana Landmarks Society to “focus attention on Louisiana’s historic buildings; promote interest in the study of Louisiana’s architectural heritage; to disseminate information on Louisiana’s landmarks and support their preservation; to publish a guide to parish landmarks and to operate a community museum.” One of their first acts was to write a letter to the Park Board requesting a joint effort to prevent the demolition of Grevemberg House. They next sent a proposal to the City Council to form a committee to negotiate a lease agreement.
In just a few years, the Landmarks Society deepened the public-private partnership when it requested that the City perform much-needed repairs to the house and further proposed that it be operated by St. Mary Landmarks as a museum.
Involvement at the Parish government level quickly followed, and soon after, state funds for local tourist attractions aided the establishment of parish museums, such as Grevemberg House.
With financial support from the City, St. Mary Parish government, a state grant, and fundraising efforts by the St. Mary Landmarks Society, restoration began. In 1972, the Grevemberg House Museum held official opening ceremonies.
The initial goal of saving the house was accomplished, and in 1980, the Grevemberg House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
More challenges were in store for Grevemberg House and St. Mary Landmarks. Tragedy occurred in 1983 when a fire damaged the house. The St. Mary Landmarks Society rallied its allies and completed the repairs and repainting in just over a year. Then in 1992, Hurricane Andrew damaged Grevemberg House, but the structure withstood winds clocked at speeds in excess of 140 mph.
St. Mary Landmarks has continued to grow, and remains dedicated to the Grevemberg House Museum. More restoration, maintenance and enhancement projects have been completed. Community, government, and corporate involvement have all greatly contributed to the success of this St. Mary Parish landmark.