Country Roads Article
Jackson Antiques Show Turns 50
Written by James Fox-Smith
An Antique in its Own Right Jackson Antiques Show and Sale Turns Fifty Outside the Feliciana Courthouse, a handsome brick and clapboard structure built in 1816, a straggle of early paperwhites were turning their pale faces into chilly February drizzle on the day we went to hear the history of the Jackson Assembly Antiques Show and Sale, which will mark its fiftieth anniversary this March 27—29. The location was fitting because the Feliciana Courthouse, (which served as the seat of justice until the parish was divided into East and West in 1824) is one of several notable Jackson structures to have been purchased and authentically restored using proceeds from the annual show, which was chartered in 1962 by a group of locals concerned that too many of Jackson’s historic buildings were succumbing to the ravages of time. Jan Worthy, who does publicity duties for the Assembly and still describes herself as “a relative newcomer” despite having lived in town since 1968, explained that in the fifty years since 1965, in addition to the Courthouse the Assembly has also purchased and restored other Charter Street landmarks including the McKowen and Pipes McKowen buildings and the Johnny Jones Store; helped establish and document the Jackson Historic District; installed historic markers; sponsored and implemented a town landscape plan, contributed to the publication of Michael Howell’s early history of Jackson; and provided space for the Charter Street Studio artists—a move that has led to the development of a local cultural district.
In other words, the Jackson Assembly Antiques Show has had a large and lasting impact on this little town during the course of fifty years—and that’s never more evident than during late March, when the town’s population of three thousand comes close to doubling while the Antiques Show is in progress. According to Worthy preparations for the show seem to set off “a chain reaction around town,” with locals turning out to cut grass, trim hedges, and volunteer in droves to cook dishes, serve visitors, sell tickets, and man the various posts required to keep two thousand visitors directed, fed, and entertained for three days in spring.
Regular visitors will see lots of familiar faces among the twenty attending dealers who bring a wide range of antique furniture and collectibles, maps, rare books and more to the McKowen Store and Centenary Inn display spaces. Like Janet and Dennis Eckstein’s Shingle Horse Antiques from Mansfield, Ohio. The Ecksteins’ booth specializing in antique tools was a fixture of the show from the early days until 2006, when Dennis’s declining health made the trip from Ohio untenable. But now, with the couple’s sons having taken over the business, Janet will be back for the first time in nine years, promising special items including an Ohio workbench and tool chest, alongside Shingle Horse’s diverting range of antique and anachronistic hand tools.
As you’d expect, many of the features that keep folks coming back to a fifty-year-old antiques show don’t change much. Returning will be guided and self-guided tours of restored historic structures (highlights include the circa 1840 St. Alban’s Masonic Lodge, and the Center Building at circa 1849 East Louisiana Hospital); home-cooked pies and soups served from the show’s traditional Gumbo Kitchen by longtime volunteers like Mary Louise Bankston and Donis Allen; a candy counter that sells homemade sweets, pralines, and cookies; and a regional artists’ show and sale. Visitors will be able to tour Centenary Historic Site and the 1898 Professor’s Cottage; and the original Feliciana Courthouse that started it all. Those early paperwhites will be long gone, of course, but with the azaleas in full bloom and the streets filled with Antique Show visitors returning for a fiftieth year running, Jackson’s significant history will still be at center stage, and well poised for preservation in years to come.
Jackson Assembly Antique Show & Sale
$10 ticket good for all three days.
Elegant antiques and collectibles from select southern dealers, Regional artists’ show and sale, delectable lunches & desserts, Three historic churches and featured historic home tours. Self guided walking tour of historic district. Centenary State Historic Site open for tours. The Jackson Assembly is a non-profit historic preservation group. Funds are used for historic preservation projects in the community.
Jackson Assembly show celebrates 50th anniversary
March 18, 2015
JACKSON — The Jackson Assembly Antiques and Art Show and Sale will celebrate its 50th anniversary March 27-29 at the Charter Street Studios in Jackson.
The event raises funds for Jackson Assembly’s historic preservation projects.
Charter Street Studio artists Linda Broderick, Alice Kent, Donna Bateman Kilbourne, Roger Persons and Carolyn Ory Thornton will anchor the show.
In addition, guest artists will also have their work on display. Feliciana potter Craig Roth will have many hand-thrown, glazed and fired pieces for sale as will jewelry artist Catherine Rouchon, of Clinton, and Cleo Scott with wood carvings, duck decoys and bird carvings.
Sandra and Wayne Maltese will return with their handcrafted pine straw baskets and painted gourds.
Other artists on display will include Keith Morris, Della Storm and nationally recognized watercolorists Judi Betts and Roberta Loflin.
Displaying oils on canvas will be Stephany Causey, Ronnie Collins and Jenny Mills. Folk art will be presented by Judith Braggs, Peggy Carbo and Dotti Radcliff.
Antique dealers from across the South will also take part in the show. Doors open at 10 a.m. the first two day and will remain open until 5 p.m. On the last day of the event, the art show will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission to the art galleries and numerous Jackson-area historical properties is $10 and tickets are good for all three days.
St. Albans Masonic Lodge opens up for Jackson Assembly
50 Years of Assembly
Jackson — Local Masons have taken votes in the historic St. Albans Masonic Lodge building for 166 years, including a unanimous vote during the Civil War requesting that the Grand Lodge of Louisiana bar “from all rights and privileges of Masonry” the hated Union Gen. Benjamin Butler, whose troops were occupying New Orleans.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Jackson Assembly Antiques and Art Show and Sale, the organization will open the historic Masonic lodge, which is still in use today.
Built about 1849 in the Greek Revival style, the brick building has a simple two-story portico and four classic Doric columns. The exterior was finished in plaster, which may have originally been scored to simulate stone.
“It was built as a commercial structure,” said Jim Hendrickson, Jackson Assembly president and show chairman. “Shareholders put money into the project and would share the profits.”
The bottom floor was designed as office space with the Masons renting the large meeting room upstairs. First floor rooms were used by a variety of notaries and lawyers in the early years. According to records from 1850, the offices of notaries John Catlett and Andrew Aitchison were located “under the Masonic Lodge.”
“George Catlett bought up all the shares,” Hendrickson said. “He moved in and for 10 years wouldn’t let the Masons use the building.”
When Catlett died in 1868, the Masons bought the building. “It was built exactly like Centenary College,” said Scotty Dawson, a member of the lodge. Centenary College first opened in Jackson as the College of Louisiana and later moved to Shreveport.
“The college was from the same period of time. We think the same craftsmen must have built both,” Dawson said. “They were true craftsmen. All of the joists are hand-hewed and fit together. The ceiling beams fit in notches.”
The building, which served as the Jackson post office for many years, survived a massive fire that engulfed most of the Jackson business district in 1876. According to a newspaper account, the building caught fire, but the flames were extinguished.
In its 50 years, the Jackson Assembly has purchased and restored four historic buildings, including the Old Feliciana Courthouse, which for a short time was the parish seat of what was then the combined Feliciana Parish. encompassing both East and West Feliciana parishes. All of the buildings were in poor condition, but have been restored with profits from the antiques shows.
In a newspaper article announcing the 25th Assembly show in 1990, Olivia Dudley Acosta, chairwoman of the first show, described how the project started with a reception for “old residents and descendants of residents of Jackson.” Those attending were asked to bring “treasures” of Jackson.
Acosta said that after the reception, she received letters from people across the state inquiring about some of the items brought to the reception. This led to the first antiques show, which featured five dealers. Members of the Assembly and other friends from Jackson prepared gumbo and desserts for buyers.
The food ran out and the dealers would have to go home at night and bring more antiques to sell, Acosta said.
“Customers were begging the members of the Assembly to wait on them, meanwhile clutching the antiques to their bosom and glaring at other women who even looked at their treasured antique. Need I say, the officers were hilariously happy,” Acosta said in her report to the Assembly.