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The Legacy of Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & History Museum

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame &Northwest Louisiana History Museum

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum, built in 2003, stands as an attention-getting architectural outlier in historic downtown Natchitoches, Louisiana. Located on Front Street, the museum earned the distinction of the Top Architecture Project in the World in 2013 by Azure magazine.

Local Geography of Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Museum

The museum resides near the banks of Cane River Lake as an abstract ode to the region’s waterfront, crafted of bent steel clad in capstone, its silhouette mimicking the river’s twists and turns.

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Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist, visiting Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum.

“The building is constructed with approximately 1030 pieces of individual capstone in all different sizes that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle on top of a steel framework,” explains Jennae Biddiscombe, Branch Director, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum.

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

The copper and white capstone structure exudes a futuristic rather than faux historic facade, a calculated architectural alternative among the city’s many historic structures downtown. 

The Museum’s Historical Significance

Trahan Architects of Baton Rouge designed the museum’s unique structure. The louvered copper exterior is reminiscent of the shutters of plantation homes, and cultivated fields inspire the linear, earth-colored cladding. The interior is designed to resemble the flow of Cane River Lake, with curved walls echoing the natural cut of a river.

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

“We stand here in Louisiana’s oldest city, the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase, older than New Orleans, founded in 1714. Natchitoches is the cradle of history in our state and west of the Mississippi River,” says Doug Ireland, one of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame founders. 

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

“For the first 14 years of the Hall of Fame’s existence from 1958 forward, it was nomadic. There were inductions at the halftimes of LSU basketball games and at sports banquets around the state. There was a small collection of artwork that went on display in certain places, but it didn’t have a home,” Doug explains.

In 1972, Northwestern State University offered a home and built a permanent display case, which led to the establishment of a weekend celebration honoring new inductees in the Sports Hall of Fame featuring a golf tournament and reception. 

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

Celebrating Louisiana’s Sporting Legacy

“Louisiana has a legacy of turning out more world-class athletes than most states in the nation, so it’s a given that we should honor that with a Sports Hall of Fame Museum,” Doug says.

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Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist, visiting the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum

The building stands as its attraction, drinking in light from large windows above, illuminating a winding stairway connecting two floors and two museums. The ground floor showcases memorabilia from inductees in The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. 

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

Here, you’ll learn about the accomplishments of notable Louisiana athletes, coaches, and sports stars through multimedia exhibits, including videos and touch screens. The sports museum also extends upstairs and includes new and updated shows.

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

A Decade of Sporting Glory and Cultural Richness

The museum has updated many exhibits in honor of its 10th anniversary in 2023. “In our LSU case, we added  the ESP award for when LSU won the World Series, and two of Nick Saban’s championship rings when he coached LSU football.”

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

The museum also showcases Heisman Trophy winners who played for LSU, including John Crowe, Billy Cannon, Joe Burrows, and Devonte Smith. 

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

“After LSU Women’s Basketball Coach Kim Mulkey won the 2023  championship, she graciously lent us one of her outfits from that championship season. We have several other pieces of LSU memorabilia from that championship season. So we’re proud of this,” Jennae adds.

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

A Journey Through Northwest Louisiana’s History

Upstairs houses the Northwest Louisiana History Museum, chronicling 3,000 years of the region’s culture and history with artifacts, handicrafts, and exhibits, including an overview of the Cane River National Heritage area, home to flourishing subcultures, including the Creole community of Isle Brevelle, whose origins began in colonial Natchitoches.

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com
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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

“Exhibits trace historical, cultural, and economic contributions beginning with the Native Americans through the plantation period and modern-day agriculture and timber industries,” Jennae explains.  

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

The museum also highlights notable Louisiana women, including folk artist Clementine Hunter, with 12 original artworks on display—including ten paintings about life on Melrose Plantation, where she lived. 

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Photo credit: The Design Tourist www.TheDesignTourist.com

The Museum is a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and the City of Natchitoches and is a must-see for sports fans and culture seekers.

 

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist (www.TheDesignTourist.com) that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: https://thedesigntourist.com/the-magazine/ Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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