A limited number of shiny gold ornaments, a reminder that Germantown Colony is a Webster Parish treasure, are on sale and going fast.
"The ornament is beautiful," said Jean Doerge, board member of the Friends of Germantown Colony, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization formed for charitable and educational purposes to support, preserve and improve the Germantown Colony Museum.
"It is a replica of the Countess Cottage," she continued. "We designed it as an ornament, but not necessarily a Christmas ornament, so that it can be displayed year round."
Doerge, who represented District 10 (Webster Parish) in Baton Rouge, said she was familiar with a similar idea she saw in the capital.
"We needed extra funds and knew of ornaments and trinkets of Baton Rouge which were sold," she said. "This seemed like something that people would really enjoy as keepsakes of the historical Germantown Colony."
Doerge said the Countess Cottage was chosen for the ornament because of the role played by the Countess in founding the colony.
"She was the wife of the count who started the movement in Pennsylvania," Doerge explained. "They stopped in Natchitoches, where he got a fever and died. She picked the group up and carried them here, where they settled the colony in 1835."
Money raised by the Friends of Germantown will go toward costs incurred by running the museum.
"The colony is mostly maintained by the state because it is a state museum," explained Doerge. "But with budgets being cut across all departments, especially tourism, we thought it was prudent to raise funds."
Doerge said while the museum will continue to be under the state's care, there are some things state funding will not cover.
"Raising additional funds will allow us to continue to promote the museum and do other things we can't do with state funding," she said.
Lynn Dorsey, director for the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the visitors' center may be complete by March.
"At this time, construction may be finished in February," she explained. "Then Larry Milford will begin creating and installing the exhibits."
When bids were originally taken for the visitors' center, the amount was greater than funds available.
"The state suggested to use interest on earnings to fill in the gap," Dorsey said. "So we did as they suggested and the legislature allocated money from interest on earnings, and because of that and the support we have received from so many, the visitors' Center will be built."
Funding in the amount of $120,000 was donated by Friends of Germantown, and Petro Chem and Claiborne Electric each made donations to make water and electricity possible.
KAN Contracting of Bossier City was the lowest bid at $424,000, which met all requirements.
Dorsey said more than 275 items were taken from Germantown Colony to the State Museum in Baton Rouge for cataloging and preservation. Soon, the items will return to their home.
"The artifacts are really amazing and beautiful," Dorsey said. "An alter, coins, ivory carvings, books and stamps- there are so many great things that will tell the story of Germantown Colony."
In addition to the ornament, Dorsey is looking forward to another money maker for the museum.
"Larry has taken the seal rings, which the colonist used to created impressions in wax, and created jewelry inspired by the artifacts," she said. "These will be on sale once the visitors' center opens, and like the ornament, all of our local people will want to own these unique creations."
Ornaments, which cost $20 each, can be purchased at WPCVB and Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce, located at 110 Sibley Rd.