Charles Evans knows the secret to what makes a loving home — so much so that he’s turned his into a museum.
The 82 year-old shared nearly 60 years of marriage with his late wife, Louise, in their Starkville, Mississippi, home until her death in 2011. The couple had often joked about using the many photographs of their relationships to create a museum, but it wasn’t until her passing that Evans felt inspired to see the project through.
“A few months passed and I said to myself, ‘I got to follow through with this dream that we had,” he told TODAY.com in a phone interview.
Since then, he has independently built an indoor and outdoor oasis to commemorate their love, beginning with photos from when they met in the 10th grade, and their wedding as 18-year-old high school sweethearts.
“I like to say that we were 18-year-old children with a little love at first sight,” Evans said. “But believe me, it worked.”
The museum, which he likes to call “LaLa and Louise Land” ("LaLa" is a childhood nickname that stuck with Evans as a result of his carefree personality), largely showcases the couple’s love of dancing — an activity that Evans said he taught his wife, and one that defined their love in many ways. His favorite memory in the room, he says, is a photo of the couple’s last dance together, which he keeps at the doorway so that it can be the last token he sees.
Outside, the backyard is adorned with colorful beach umbrellas, flowers, and windmills in a space that Evans calls his Umbrella Grove.
“Now, I can see even more of the beauty in our life,” he said of both creations. “I can reflect and say, ‘Wow, we lived.’”
The public is also welcome to visit the museum (for free), according to Evans. "If someone wants to stop by and dance with me around it, I'll dance with them," he said.
Even the band Mutemath was impacted by his story, choosing to feature Louise Land and Evans himself in the music video for their new song, “Monument.” In the video, Evans joyously dances throughout the house, re-enacting many memories with his wife.
When asked if he plans on expanding the museum, Evans says “Who knows? For now, there’s enough room for me to dance, and that’s all that matters.”