Posted by Doyle Bailey for The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Guest Blogger, Adam Foreman, Executive Director, APHN

New Discoveries in the Collection at Melrose

Recently there have been several new discoveries centering on the Clementine Hunter Collection at Melrose. It all began with the stove in the Clementine Hunter house located on the Melrose Property. I do not know when the home was moved to the Melrose property however according to Tommy Whitehead, Clementine Hunter moved from the home in 1977.

For the last 35 years, items have remained in the stove undiscovered and unexplored. When I discovered these items in late February I quickly contacted Dustin Fuqua with the National Park Service to assist me with an assessment, inventory, and documentation of these [no longer hidden pieces of our collection.

What we found was truly amazing. We found items dated between 1972 and 1977. Two of the neatest items were an Avon product box and a St. Augustine Church raffle ticket from October 7& 8 1972. Several other paper documents including a receipt from Roques auto garage, newspaper sections, a Natchitoches Parish water bill, and even an empty pack of Pall Mall cigarettes (According to Tommy Whitehead, Clementine did not smoke but her daughter did.)

Also were various bone fragments possibly from beef and pork ribs and chicken bone fragments. We also found carbonized wood and a large amount of construction nails.
The second big discovery is more of a “re-discovery”. While inspecting broken glass doors in the Melrose Library I uncovered a large blue binder with a full inventory of items received by APHN from the Hunter family after her death. Once this re-discovery was fully realized, I began attempting to identify and find the items listed. One such item was an “artist box”. When I found this box and opened it- I was amazed to see Clementine’s paints and brushes still inside. With the help of supplies from Dustin and the National Park Service, I was able to identify and inventory the contents of the Artist box.

Every day is an opportunity for a new discovery at Melrose. The large blue binder has nearly 300 sheets of paper, so this project has just begun.

Thanks,

Adam Foreman
Executive Director, APHN

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