Driving the Backroads | First Methodist Church | Columbia, Louisiana

FUMC Columbia 7

Happy Halloween! I’ve been on the road a lot this month on several trips to North Louisiana. The drive through rural Louisiana farmland is always a beautiful one lined with cotton fields, sugarcane, and vernacular architecture (my favorite!). After years of driving through the small town of Columbia, Louisiana, and thinking, “I’ll stop next time,” I finally decided to pull over and photograph this fantastic early twentieth-century wooden church building.

The First United Methodist of Columbia was constructed in 1911 by contractor Frank Masselin and Son of Monroe, purportedly from plans brought from Europe by a church member. The rectangular church is clad with wooden clapboard and features a combination of Romanesque, Gothic Revival, and Craftsman architectural elements. Most prominent are the two towers of unequal height with low, overhanging eaves and exposed rafter tails, all Craftsman features.  The recessed belfry at the top of the taller tower features false buttress-type supports and rounded arch louvered vents.  Beautiful stained glass windows grace the second-story levels of both towers; the windows on the shorter tower are stylized quatrefoils of Gothic design. The main doors to the church are located beneath pointed arches in each tower. If you look closely, you will notice a Gothic mouchette motif on the wooden doors.

FUMC Columbia 3

The church was expanded in 1939, and the addition appears seamless from exterior view.  Wood siding, paired wood windows, and a consistent use of similar stylistic features blends the 1939 addition with the original structure.


The church was closed on the day I stopped to take photographs, but this photo, courtesy of the National Register nomination, shows the interior of the original 1911 sanctuary.  I would love to see the semi-circular railing in person. This photo also shows the original wooden pews.

FUMC Columbia

It was a special treat to catch the church decorated for fall, but it is beautiful at any time of the year. Next time you’re driving up LA 165, make a stop in Columbia. The church is on the edge of Columbia’s cute little downtown on the banks of the Ouachita River.  Kudos to this congregation for taking such good care of this beautiful building.

P.S. – I’d love to know more about the history of the church, those European architectural plans, and the members who brought them back.  Please share what you know in the comments!


Creativity in a To-Do List

Every season, I make an around the house to-do list of all the projects I want to tackle.  These projects range from hanging a new light fixture to framing artwork to painting the porch floor. There seems to be something about a change in the weather that inspires me to get busy being productive and creative.  A few days ago, this season’s inspiration struck and the result is the following, ever ambitious, list.


By the looks of it, you’d think we have no furniture in our house and that the walls are completely bare, when, in fact, the situation is quite the opposite.  So why do I feel the need to tackle all of these projects?  It’s a question I come back to often and a question I considered before starting this blog.  Do I like being busy?  Do I just want more stuff? Am I dissatisfied with something else in my life?  For me, the answer to all those questions is a resounding, “NO!”  I like to tackle these DIY projects because I enjoy the process.

I love the experience of living in an old house with my young family.  I love when ideas pop into my head about how I can help us live better or more fully in this space.  A sense of anticipation bubbles up when I set aside the time to hunt for the perfect inspiration piece to accomplish that goal.  I get excited about the possibilities when I gather objects – often those that have been discarded, tossed aside, deemed worthless and old – and imagine how to give them a new life in a old home. It’s pure joy to me to work in steady silence, with hands-on and hands dirty, to create a final product that may be nothing that I envisioned, but that I know has been worked out to suit my family and our home.

If this process sounds a bit spiritual, that’s because for me, it is.  The act of creating is a beautiful thing.  It engages the hands, the eyes, the mind, the heart, and the spirit. For me, writing a list is only the beginning of my creative process that helps me dream about the possibilities.

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands….

Come spring, if I cross only one project off of my list – which is highly likely, by the way – I will be thankful that I had at least one opportunity to express my creativity in my home this season.


Autumn is Here

Although autumn officially arrived a few weeks ago, it was just yesterday that our Louisiana weather caught on.  Like many other Southerners I know, autumn is my favorite season, which is funny seeing that we really don’t experience many signs of fall down here.  Most of the leaves on our trees turn brown instead of brilliant gold, fiery orange, and deep red.  I’m not sure our temperatures ever really reach the point where flannel blankets become warm rather than scratchy (though we love them nonetheless).  Early morning temperatures of less than 60 degrees usually call for cable knit sweaters and fleece jackets.

But maybe that’s why this season is so special to us.  We cherish the small glimpses we do receive.  Crisp breezes come as a relief to summer’s enduring heat.  When the few trees whose leaves do turn colors finally begin to change, driving by to marvel at the beauty of transition can become a daily ritual for an entire community.  Like nature, we tend to slow down to focus on family, friends, and all the things for which we are thankful.  As the weather cools down, my spirit grows warmer and more welcoming.  I want my home to reflect the same spirit.

Fall Mantle_final

My family loves to use our fireplace whenever we can, so I always focus on bringing seasonal elements to our mantle.  In Autumn,  I like to keep them natural, so simply placing a basket of firewood on the hearth is both useful and decorative.  I always buy real autumn leave from the grocery or craft store and use them to fill in around my collection of autumn gourds and pumpkins.  This year I chose to place real pumpkins on the table rather than the mantle.  I added my vintage wood clipboard and old reading primer card – estate sale and flea market finds – just for a fun touch.  The “Boo!” banner is a recent purchase from a local crafter.  It’s made  entirely of up cycled materials – old book pages, twine, and an old orange sweater.  I love the way it ties in several aspects of my family’s style to a fairly common mantle theme.

HGH_fall table

This year, I placed my favorite funky real pumpkins on the center of our dining table surrounded them with a combination of real and artificial fall leaves.  Because we use this table at least two times a day, I chose to keep the big white bowl at the center of this arrangement.  It holds a weekly family time brochure that comes home from school with my eldest son, a kids devotional that we do our best to read a few mornings a week, Bath and Body Works’ Autumn room spray (my favorite), and other odds and ends such as the requisite army men, mardi gras beads, broken crayons, and anything else the kids leave lying around the dining room.

HGH_Paris fall

This little vignette sits on our entry table.  I pulled the old books from elsewhere around the house, the plate from our cabinet, and the little Tour Eiffel is one of my most favorite (and least expensive) souvenirs from an autumn semester abroad in France.  I found the globe at a thrift store for less than $3 and the small book of maps that the tower sits on was a gift from a friend in grad school.  I scattered in those tiny dried pumpkins which are probably almost 10 years old and were purchased from my one of my favorite stores of all time.  All these things remind me of the beauty of the season in different places that are near and dear to my heart, and they provide me the opportunity to share stories of my experiences with my boys, who I dearly hope will one day spread their wings and  have their own travelling adventures.

HGH_fall leaves

I’ve seen several photos  of beautiful autumn decor in non-traditional colors such as green and white.  Though tempting to try, I just can’t seem to break from the warm colors of this arrangement.   Pairing traditional autumn colors with everyday household items and special mementos is how I like to create an autumn spirit in my home.  How do you bring autumn into your home?