ALBANY — The first phase of work on the Hungarian Settlement Historical Museum is now complete, said Alex Kropog, of Holden, president of the Hungarian Settlement Historical Society.
The first phase of work included completing the interior of the building, except for refinishing the floors of the more than 75-year-old former school building and painting the interior walls.
The second phase of work will include installing a restroom, a small office, a meeting room and additional exhibit space, Kropog said.
In addition, phase two will include installing a new ceiling, he said.
“All of this is rather expensive,” Kropog said. “We are collecting money and hoping phase two will work.”
“This community is very supportive,” Kropog added.
Kropog said he hopes to open the museum later this year or early next year, and said the museum will rely heavily on donations and grant money to complete the work.
The Hungarian Settlement received its first school in about 1920, Kropog said. That building, however, burned during the 1927-1928 school year. In April 1928, a delegation from Hungarian Settlement asked the Livingston Parish School Board for a new school. In November, the School Board moved a no longer used school building in Springfield to Hungarian Settlement, Kropog said.
The school building could not be easily moved in its entirety, so it had to be divided into sections to allow it to move over the narrow roadway.
The largest segment was moved first. With a system of pulley, blocks and tackles, cables and ropes attached to the building section, oxen walked in a circular pattern around a drum, tightening the ropes and chains, thus moving the building forward.
Logs were placed under the building to act as wheels. The moving process took three weeks, Kropog said.
According to information provided by the Hungarian Settlement Historical Society, from 1928 to 1943, the school was the principal educational facility for the children living in Hungarian Settlement. The nearest other schools were in Albany and Springfield.
Some children went to the “regular” school in these communities, but the vast majority were educated in the Hungarian School. Grades one through seven were taught, and many Hungarian children learned English at the school. Upon graduation, students then went to Albany or Springfield for high school.
In 1943, the Livingston Parish School Board closed the school. From 1944 to 1976, the building served as a nursing home named Our Home. For the next 24 years, the building was left abandoned.
In 2000, the Hungarian Settlement Historical Society signed a 50-year lease with the school board with the express purpose of renovating the building into a Hungarian Museum, Kropog said.
Today, those closest to the project hold fundraisers and accept donations to aid the project.
Tax deductible donations can be made to Hungarian Settlement Historical Society, and mailed to P.O. Box 1909 Albany, La. 70711. All donations will be used for the restoration project. Donations to the museum restoration fund are tax exempt, their web site states.
For more information, and project updates, log on to http://hungarianmuseum.com/Home/tabid/65/Default.aspx.