In Albany, a community located between Baton Rouge and Lake Pontchartrain, a project is under way to create a museum that will detail the area’s Hungarian history.
Hungarian immigrants first arrived in the late 1800s to work in sawmills on the timberlands of Louisiana. The area where they lived became known as the Hungarian Settlement, and the residents preserved their heritage for decades by speaking their native language and marrying within the community.
Today, the Hungarian Settlement Historical Society is in the process of completing the Hungarian Settlement Museum. The museum will be housed in a 1929 schoolhouse where many Hungarian students attended classes in the early 20th century. The first phase of the museum is set to open this year and will feature Hungarian artifacts, documents, photographs and family history resources.
Groups interested in visiting the settlement and museum should contact the Livingston Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In the Chalmette area of southeast Louisiana, St. Bernard Parish traces its roots back to “Los Islenos,” a group of 18th-century settlers who came to the area from the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain.
Islenos set up four settlements in the area, but “San Bernardo” became the most successful. Founded in 1779, this settlement was set up along a channel of the Mississippi River and soon became a principal supplier of the garlic, onions, beans, potatoes and poultry consumed in nearby New Orleans during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Eventually the Islenos integrated into the greater Louisiana culture, but the Los Islenos Society and Museum Complex in St. Bernard Parish preserves the history of this Spanish group and their contributions to the area. The museum is a set of 10 buildings that were constructed around the start of the 20th century. In addition to period homes, visitors see the Coconut Island Barroom and the Estopinal House and kitchen, which was used by the area’s first Spanish governors.
The city of Lafayette sits in the heart of Louisiana’s “Cajun Country.” This area is named for the large population of French Acadians who made their way from Europe to Canada and eventually to Louisiana in the 18th century. Their distinctive dialect, music, food and culture, with its deep French roots, have become an inherent part of statewide traditions.
Groups visiting Lafayette have a variety of ways of learning about the area’s French Acadian heritage. The Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center tells the story of the Acadians and their migration into the area. The Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park, a 23-acre site on the banks of Bayou Vermilion, depicts how the Cajuns and Native Americans lived and interacted from 1756 to 1890 with food, music, cultural exchange and historic architecture.
Special annual events highlight French and Cajun traditions in Lafayette. Each April, the Festival International de Louisiane is the country’s largest French-language festival. In October, the Festivals Acadiens et Creoles celebrate the area’s Cajun and Creole culture with music, dancing and contemporary arts.