The Masur Museum of Art houses the largest collection of visual arts exhibits in northeast Louisiana, but it was once home to two of Monroe’s most prominent families.
The two-story Tudor Revival limestone building sits along a bend in the Ouachita River in one of the city’s oldest residential neighborhoods.
Elmer C. Slagle, a lumberjack from Monroe, had the house built for his wife, Mabel Chauvin, in 1929. Indiana limestone and Pennsylvania blue slate used to build the house were transported on various waterways to the banks of the Ouachita River behind the estate. .
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Originally, the land included an English rose garden and a lawn stretching down to the river. When the Army Corps of Engineers built the levee system in the 1930s, the house carriage house was moved behind the new levee.
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The Great Depression caused the house to be put up for sale in the early 1930s and it was later acquired by the Masur family, considered one of the most important families in the city. Sigmund Masur, his wife Beatrice and their three children Sylvian, Jack and Bertha Marie lived in the house until the 1960s.
Masur and his family owned a department store, known as “The Palace”, which was located in the business district of Monroe.
Although the house is referred to by architectural historians as the Tudor Revival, the style is also influenced by Tudor, Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture. Features associated with the style include picturesque massing accompanied by steeply angled, overlapping cross-gables, prominent chimneys, wall-mounted dormers, and a large sunroom that projects outward from a wide interior stair landing . The space under the hall is a porte-cochere, a porch where vehicles stop to unload passengers.
The house also features tall, narrow casement windows with multi-pane glazing. Some of the windows are single, while others occur in bands. Some of the single windows are tall enough to look like French doors.
Other features of the house include two cast stone mantels with classical designs, an interior wrought iron stair railing, a pair of wrought iron doors placed at the main entrance, gutters and copper downspouts .
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Interior modifications were made to the house for its reuse as an art museum. Walls made of plywood panels covered with carpet were designed to display exhibits. Display walls cover the windows of the former lounges, dining rooms, breakfast rooms and solarium.
The main residence now serves as a setting for exhibitions, artist talks and guest lectures. It is accompanied by a horse-drawn carriage shed which hosts educational programs in photography, painting and workshops for children.
The Masur Museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
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