Margo Matherne was thinking “gold” when she pitched the project of building a kid-size replica of a houseboat for the future Des Allemands, Bayou Gauche, Paradis Museum on WPA Road.
But Matherne’s idea quickly evolved into a work of heart for the many who just wanted to see a good thing happen.
“I loved it since the beginning,” said the 17-year-old of her decision to take on the project. “I didn’t quite realize how much work it would be, but this all goes hand in hand with what I needed for a Gold Award.”
The award is the Girl Scouts’ highest award, equivalent to the Boy Scouts of America’s Eagle Scout ranking. According to the Girl Scouts, the achievement is aimed at challenging the girls to change the world.
That’s just what this Girl Scout intends to do with her project.
With help from her father, Earl Matherne, they met with Destrehan architect John Campo (also a member of the museum board of directors), who volunteered to make the plans for the little houseboat.
“I think it was pretty bold,” Campo said. “I have three daughters and they would not have done that. I think she has her act together, and I was glad to help her out. All three of mine were in Girl Scouts and I thought that was great.”Campo said she has his full support.
“I can’t wait to see the finished product,” he said. “I’m excited for her and the community. It’s designed for kids, and the kids will recognize that and realize that is ‘our world’ and go out there and play. It also fits with Des Allemands’ incredible history.”
Board Director Roy Lunk agrees.
The project fits the museum’s mission, which is to portray the early life in the area and houseboats were certainly part of that life. Lunk is the central figure in restoring a 94-year-old schoolhouse into a museum, as well as developing the board to help make it happen.
Plans are to put the little boathouse next to the museum, which Lunk hopes will be completed tentatively by 2019.Last weekend, Matherne’s hammer went to work on building an 8-foot by 10-foot playhouse or structure at her residence in Bayou Gauche. It resembles the kind of boathouse that once frequented the waters of Des Allemands. Her parents, Earl and Denise Matherne, joined in the work along with her uncle Terry Matherne (also her parrain or godfather who also sits on the museum’s board of directors).
Her artsy uncle will help paint the interior like an old fashioned dollhouse with a scene that includes boathouse fixture like an pot-bellied stove, beds and wall hangings.“It’s meant to teach about the way folks in this area used to live and living on houseboats,” said her father. “They were common around here in the early 1990s.”
He also considers a “cool” addition that will offer a nice transition with the playground and museum.
Besides, he added, “It’s fun.”
The idea for the project apparently came to his daughter while volunteering with the Des Allemands, Bayou Gauche, Paradis Museum Society. She learned about how people once lived along the bayou in the area, and the museum site including a replica of a houseboat made sense.
In yet another effort to make a good thing happen, Matherne said Orleans Shoring of Harahan saw her Facebook page about her gold project and volunteered to move the little houseboat to the museum site. They hope to have the building ready for the move in about two weeks.
But Matherne also hopes her project will inspire more girls to join the Girl Scouts.
“I’ve been in Girl Scouts since I was five,” she said. “I hope it inspires other girls to join and stay in it.”