Heart of Louisiana: Abita Mystery House

John Preble says he's always had a lot of stuff in his house.

"I'm from a family of collectors. My father collected stamps and rocks and his mother was an antique dealer of some sorts," he says.

Preble has a lot of hobbies - or jobs. He's a musician, composer, record producer, painter and ten years ago, the creator of the Mystery House in Abita Springs.

"The museum is sort of a hobby that got out of hand," Preble said.

The Mystery House has a large assortment of animals with alligator heads, sometimes with more than one head, a collection of old radios and barbed wire, paint by number art, a fortune teller and lots of other strange stuff.

"I don't want expensive things. I want things that are interesting. Someone brought me a bottle opener that looked like Jimi Hendrix. It was perfect."

Prebble already had a lot of stuff, but he hadn't thought about turning it into a museum. Then on a family vacation he stopped at a roadside attraction near Albequerqe, and that's where he got his inspiration.

"When we saw this, I was like I got all the same junk this guy has. I can open my own museum."

The signature piece is a 22-foot long bass-a-gator. It's part bass, part alligator. It's near the airstream trailer that once-upon-a-time was hit by a flying saucer. The aliens never left.

A 1920 barn has been turned into the house of shards decorated with 15,000 bits of glass and pottery.

Visiting musicians can tryout a century old hand-crank organ from the Masonic Hall on St. Charles Avenue or stare at whimsical dioramas, jazz funerals, a tornado in a trailer park and other Louisiana scenes.

"We do have some people that walk in that just don't get it. They say well why you got all this junk. So you you really need a sense of humor," said Preble.

If you ask Preble what his favorite item is, he'll show you the marble machine made out of Popsicle sticks.

"You'll find me sometimes at night when no one is here. I'll be pushing that button and watching that ball come down," Preble admits.

So what's really behind this garage sale turned museum?

"I think it says that I like to have fun and I like to spread the fun around.

At the Mystery House, children are encouraged to touch. If anything breaks, it's only junk…. junk that John Preble wants to share.

Preble says he's always adding items to his mystery house. Most of the new additions come from friends who know the Abita museum is the perfect home for oddball stuff.

For more information, go to http://www.abitamysteryhouse.com/