Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum
The dual focus of this museum site highlights two very distinct—and compelling—aspects of Louisiana’s rich history.
The Wedell-Williams Aviation Collection highlights the legacy of Louisiana aviation pioneers Jimmie Wedell and Harry P. Williams, who formed an air service together in 1928 in Patterson. Both men became nationally prominent during the Golden Age of Aviation. Although both Wedell and Williams perished in plane crashes, their legacy lives on in the memorabilia and planes on display in this collection.
State-of-the-art displays include numerous aircraft, such as the famous Miss Patterson #44 and the Gilmore #121. Also on display are Wedell-Williams’ 1930s air racing trophies and memorabilia. The David J. Felterman Theater features an exciting air racing film that visually transports you to the heart of the 1932 Cleveland National Air Races.
The Cypress Sawmill Collection documents the history of the cypress lumber industry in Louisiana. Lumbering became the state’s first significant manufacturing industry. As a result, cypress lumber harvested and milled in Louisiana was shipped in mass quantities throughout the U.S. Patterson was once home to the largest cypress sawmill in the world, owned by Frank B. Williams. In 1997, the Louisiana State Legislature designated Patterson as the cypress capital of Louisiana. The exhibit features a variety of artifacts, photographs and film that tell the story of this important regional industry. The museum also hosts changing exhibits that highlight other aspects of Louisiana’s culture and history.