Two Kaplan sisters took their time in deciding to build - 60 years to be exact.
Sisters Dr. Virgie and Judy Dronet have been inseparable for years, so it was only natural that they would build a home together. It just took a while.
Dr. Virgie is the oldest, Judy is the middle child, and they have one younger sister named Melissa. All three Dronet sisters became career women.
Dr. Virgie received a Bachelors of Science in Math and Science from University of Southwest Louisiana, an Ed.S. in Education and Technology from McNeese State University, and an Ed.D. doctorate from Texas State University in Education Media and Technology.
She taught High School Sciences in Lake Arthur for 26 years; as well as Education Leadership and Instructional Technology at McNeese where she retired head of the department in 2003.
Judy Dronet received a Bachelors and Masters in Elementary Education (1st – 8th) from McNeese State University.
Shey taught third grade at Lake Arthur Elementary where she also directed nine plays. She served as the student teacher supervisor for McNeese.
She spent a total of 36 years in education, her last nine spent at Northside Junior High in Jennings as librarian where she initiated the Accelerated Reading program and book automation. She retired in 2004.
The Dronets lived on Lake Arthur for numerous years, as neighbors sharing a landlord. When the landlord’s children reclaimed Judy’s rent house, she moved in with Virgie.
In 2006, Dr. Virgie’s rent house was also reclaimed, and the two sisters moved into a one-room cottage, which their father had built, in their sister’s yard in Lafayette.
In March of the same year, Judy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
The sisters knew the time had come for a home of their own.
The location was an easy decision: the land on Sims Street in Kaplan which was inherited from their parents.
The doctor of education secured a contractor, her trusted former student Jubal Guidry, but circumstances did not allow for groundbreaking until April of 2010, allowing the sisters plenty of time to design the house of their dreams .including features such as bull-nosed corners, stomp-and- drag ceilings, tray ceilings in the bedrooms, and cathedral ceilings in the sun and common rooms.
Bboth sisters wanted the home to reflect their lives – from childhood memories through present day.
Dr. Virgie purchased software and designed the house and even drew up the floor plans herself. The house was completed and ready to move in by September of 2010.
Although the home itself is relatively new, two prominent features are actually quite old indeed.
A triangular-shaped stained glass window and some long leaf Bogalusa pine wood boards converted into flooring are remnants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Maringouin.
The lumber and window from the church, which was built in the 1800’s, was purchased by the Dronets’ father in 1968 when the church was being torn down.
The sisters held onto the items throughout the decades as a link to their father, and now have incorporated a piece of him into their home.
The Dronets’ also included a part of their late mother into their home. The elder sister enlarged a photo of a table featuring a crawfish dinner at a friend’s home in New Orleans, and in the corner their mother’s hand can be seen complete with her wedding band.
Judy explains, “What better thing to have than momma’s hand in the kitchen?”
The Dronets’ created their house symmetrical with each sister having the same amount of space, ensuring the feel of co-ownership.
Although their decorating styles highly compliment one another and flow seamlessly throughout the home, there is one room where the sisters show their own individuality – the bathroom.
Dr. Virgie’s master bathroom is decorated in hummingbirds; and Judy’s is decorated in a nautical scene complete with sailboats and lighthouses.
The crowning jewel of each is a beautiful stained glass window featuring the sisters’ respective theme.
Every inch of the home is packed with nostalgic memories. Every part of the house is special in some way.
The entire home seems to be a story on its own, which the sisters are eager to share with visitors.
Dr. Virgie was 69 and Judy was 63 when they moved in – and they could not be happier with the finished result. As Dr. Virgie comments, “It’s nice to be home.”