Heart of Louisiana: Abita Mystery House

ABITA SPRINGS, LA (WVUE) - It has to be one of the strangest museums in the New Orleans area. The Abita Mystery House has an odd, and downright whacky collection of "stuff". It's hard to describe what the museum's creator calls a classic "road side attraction".

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

"The museum is sort of a hobby that got out of hand. I'm from a family of collectors. My father collected stamps and rocks and his mother was an antique dealer of some sorts," said Preble.

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.

"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," he said.

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

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 Albuquerque and that's where he got the inspiration.

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

The signature piece is a 22-foot long bass-a-gator - 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? You really need a sense of humor."

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

"I think it says that I like to have fun and I like to spread the fun around. To have an attraction like this that survives for ten years means that there's a lot of people that like whoopie cushions."

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.

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