NEW ORLEANS -- Staffers at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation are moving into in the recently restored New Canal Lighthouse.
Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed the 1890 Lakefront icon. Public donations paid for the seven year, $1.5 million restoration effort, and seeing it finished is an emotional moment for former Executive Director Carlton Dufrechou.
"It's great when dreams come true," Dufrechou said.
The grand opening of the Lighthouse Museum is April 19, and visitors will find the walls, floors, and shutters came from the original structure. The exhibits will range from the lighthouse story to the importance of the seafood industry.
"This is all about the history of the Lakefront, the development of the Lakefront, the building of the seawall," said Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation Executive Director Dr. John Lopez, as he described the exhibits.
"This is all about our water quality program on Lake Pontchartrain, which we've been doing for years," he added. "But of course we also have our ongoing crisis in the Coast, Bill. Here is a picture of the MRGO, one of the great problems that we've had." This is really past, present, and future? "Absolutely."
And the best view unfortunately won't be open to the public. Climb a ladder and you're in the cupola, where the light is, and take a look at the view of the Lakefront and the city.
But they still need help to finish the property surrounding the Lighthouse.
"We need another $150,000 to pay for the landscaping," said Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation Development Director Sheila Englert. "As you can look around the grounds and see the importance of having landscaping around the Lakefront Lawn."
"You dream it, and you can do it," concluded Carlton Dufrechou.
To help the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation complete the Lighthouse project, call 836-2205, or visit their website at www.saveourlake.org. They are still selling personalized bricks that will be on display. Prices start at $200.