Welsh may receive $200,000 to complete renovation of 1938 landmark

Published 8:31 am Monday, June 24, 2024

Plans to renovate the old Welsh High School home economics cottage could soon be moving forward again.

State Rep. Troy Romero recently announced that the Friends of the Welsh Museum board is in line to receive $200,000 to complete restoration of the cottage, located at the corner of West Hudspeth and South Kennedy streets.

Funding for the project is part of a state supplementary appropriations bill by Rep. Jack McFarland to offer financial assistance for non-government organizations. Approval of the funding is pending the governor’s signature, Romero said.

Email newsletter signup

“This is good news and we are excited,” Museum Board President Mary Sue Lyon said offering gratitude to the support of Romero and Sen. Mark Abraham for the project funding. “We’d be able to finish the home economics cottage project which we have been working on for a long time.”

Part of the funding would be used to restore the building’s roof which was damaged during Hurricane Laura. Funds could also be used to sheetrock interior walls and add a parking lot.

“We were just about ready to finish the project when Hurricane Laura hit and it put us so far behind,” Lyon said. “We needed a new roof, so it sort of came to a standstill.”

Friends of the Welsh Museum have been working to restore the 2,000-square-foot cottage into the Hazel Hebert Benoit Memorial Arts Center in honor of the school’s long-time home economics teacher, who taught for more than 30 years.

The cottage was built in 1938 by the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works and served as the school’s home economics department until 1959 when it was moved to the new high school. It later served as a library and special education school, but sat empty for several years before being donated to the museum in 2013.

Although the museum board is still finalizing plans for the cottage, Lyons hopes it will serve as a continuing education center for both children and adults, as well as a small meeting place for local residents.

“We wanted a place to help children and adults, as well as a place to hold small meetings and events like small showers,” she said.

Lyon envisions holding programs to teach youth how to cook, sew and do arts. The center could also provide programs for local veterans, she said.

“This would be a big boost to our community because we don’t have an arts center and sewing is an art, especially embroidering,” she said.

“I think the town will certainly benefit from it, but the idea is to take those funds and try to help the kids get a better understanding of what adult life looks like,” Romero added. “We need to teach kids to cook. We need to teach kids how to do a checkbook. We need to teach kids how to diaper a baby and care for a child. Those things are important and that is what we have lost because they don’t teach that in schools anymore. We’ve got to provide that.”

The Friends of the Welsh Museum had to file an application seeking the funds to include plans for how the money would be used to help the town.