Byers is an anthropologist who studied at LSU obtaining degrees in both anthropology and geography.
She says she loves old people, old things and old houses and believes old homes have souls. "Just like with any old thing, if you leave it alone long enough, it shrivels up and dies," Byers said.
Zachary Historical Village is unique. Located right in the middle of town and a flashback to the 1900s, Byers says the whole street, which is two city blocks long, exists pretty much as it did and just like a snapshot taken in 1903 following a big fire that nearly wiped out the entire commercial center in the heart of town.
The ZHV and the entire street, which includes the McHugh, Allison and Bauman houses, as well as the Benda house and the salon at the corner of Lee and Virginia Streets, were recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, a division of the National Park Service of the United States.
Byers says it's one of the only streets in Louisiana that encompasses an entire street with all its original houses.
The Zachary Depot is also on the National Register. There are talks of making it a 'welcome center' for visitors, she said, and possibly turning it into a coffee shop with WiFi connectivity. "But nothing final has been decided, it costs money to do that and we have only so much in our budget."
The ZHV and Museum are open every weekday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and weekends and holidays by appointment only. Many families visit during Christmas time to take portraits there, the museum director said.
The past three years have been spent systematically stabilizing and preserving the buildings, which are also open to school tours.
Roofs have been replaced, structures painted, a new HVAC system has been added and new sidewalks put in by local Eagle Scouts.
For more about the Museum or Village, contact Jean Byers at 225-654-1912.