The addition expands on a 2008 effort linking 32 sites across Louisiana through promotional material from the Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism. The new sites include one in the Opelousas area: the Venus House located in Le Vieux Village at the city’s east corridor entrance.
The French Creole style home was moved to Le Vieux Village in 1973 after the Earl Fontenot family donated it to the city. The home was originally located in northwest St. Landry Parish in the small community of Grand Prairie.
The house is named after its former owner and occupant, Marie Francois Venus, a free Creole woman of color, who lived in the home during the 18th century. Other former owner names include Guillory, Doucet, Fontenot and Perkins.
The Venus House is one of the oldest houses of its kind in the Lower Mississippi Valley. It features bousillage, a natural insulation that was once common in the walls of Cajun and Creole dwellings. The Kiwanis club of Opelousas funded the relocation for the Venus house, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
The addition of the Venus House comes after a 2011 call for site submissions and application process. The trail already includes one site in the Opelousas area which is Creole Heritage and Folk Life Center on Vine Street. The addition of the Venus House will allow the site to become part of a state-wide marketing effort to promote the African American Heritage Trail.
The Louisiana African American Heritage Trail (AAHT) is designed to add new experiences to a visitor's trip to Louisiana. The AAHT is a collection of sites and points of interest that includes museums, universities, historical homes, churches, and other historical structures that tie the threads of African American people, history and culture to Louisiana and the United States.
The current sites on the trail tell the story of that heritage from the earliest days of slavery in the 18th Century, for example, through reconstruction and Jim Crow, to the struggles and victories of the Civil Rights movement and beyond.