Oakland Plantation, near Natchitoches, Louisiana, is a National Historic Landmark within The Cane River Creole National Historical Park. The park is located within the Cane River National Heritage Area in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The area extends westward from Interstate 49 to the Red River and includes everything in between.
The roots of Oakland Plantation can be traced to Jean Pierre Phillippe Prud’homme, a second generation Frenchman from the French province of Dauphine. Born in 1673, Jean Pierre became a soldier of France assigned to the French colony of Louisiana. At the age of 52, Jean Pierre married Catherine Picard and acquired part of the land that became Bermuda Plantation, now known as Oakland Plantation, through a land grant on the Red River. Jean Pierre and Catherine became parents of seven children, including Jean Baptiste Prud’homme, father of Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme who built Bermuda Plantation in 1821.
Clementine Hunter was born on Hidden Hill Plantation in 1886. At the age of 15, she moved to Melrose Plantation, just south of Natchitoches, Louisiana where she picked cotton and pecans in the 1920s and eventually became a domestic worker.
Clementine had spent much of her life laboring in fields but when she arrived at Melrose, she discovered paints and brushes left behind by a visiting artist. Clementine began “marking a picture” (her description of painting). Inside her cabin on the ground of Melrose, she “marked pictures” with scenes of plantation life including picking cotton, gathering pecans, washing clothes, ceremonial baptisms and funeral scenes. Clementine always used discarded items as her canvas including window shades, cardboard boxes, jugs, bottles and gourds.
If you’re planning a trip along Louisiana’s Great River Road, you’re more than likely looking to tour old plantation homes. It’s Louisiana Plantation country so you have many homes to choose from. If you’re limited on time and can only choose one, I would highly recommend you visit and tour, Laura: A Creole Plantation. Unique French Creole architecture and an emphasis on history make this an exploration that’s worth your time when you’re in Louisiana!
I’ve toured countless homes here in the South but I’ve never experienced a historic tour like the one that you experience here at Laura. The tour guides are well versed in the history because there are so many historical records that allow the story of Laura to be told. According to Laura’s website, the tour is based on over 5,000 pages of documents from the French National Archives, Civil War Pension Records & Laura Locoul’s own memoirs.
Ornithologist, naturalist, and painter, John James Audubon (April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was known for his detailed illustrations of birds in their natural habitats. 32 of his Birds of America series of paintings were completed here at Oakley House in Saint Francisville, Louisiana, where he served a short term tutoring the owner’s daughter.
The house is within a 100 acre-forest that now serves as the Audubon Historic Site. If you need a peaceful escape, you’ll love hearing a wide variety of birds singing throughout the site forest. It’s easy to understand why Audubon was so inspired while he lived and worked here. Visiting may just inspire you too!
The Avenue of Oaks at Evergreen Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana seemed familiar to me when I visited. I did a quick search on my phone and discovered scenes from many movies have been filmed here including Django Unchained. The plantation and the avenue of oaks are just off of the Great River Road in Louisiana.
Any visit to New Orleans involves exploration and surprises. The city is full of life and surprising treasures like this townhouse. You’ll find it at 624 Pirates Alley. It was once the home of a young writer from Mississippi named William Faulkner. He lived here for six months in 1925, and that was enough time to launch his literary career. While here, he wrote for the Times-Picayune; some poetry; and the draft of his first novel, Soldier’s Pay.
The townhouse now serves as a bookstore and literary shrine called Faulkner House Books. When you walk in you’ll be surprised by what you’ll find in such a tiny space. The 16′ ceilings are packed with books! It’s a must visit the next time you’re exploring New Orleans.
San Francisco Plantation, established 1860. This plantation home is one of the most ornate in the South. The story goes that the French phrase “son saint-frusquin,” or “the shirt off his back,” was a description of what the construction of the house cost its first owner, Edmond Marmillion. This became mistranslated into San Francisco. The property and home is expansive and beautiful. You can opt for a guided tour of the home or, if you’re short on time, you can enjoy a self guided tour around the grounds.
Researchers at Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana have been studying and interpreting the slave experience in Creole Louisiana for more than 20 years. It is a part of the history of the plantation and when you visit you will leave more informed about the slave experience on this plantation and their lives beyond the Emancipation Proclamation.
The tour is incredibly educational and really helps you to understand that although slaves were freed by the law of the land, their circumstances and ties to the plantations and lands where they worked didn’t allow many former slaves to experience freedom in their life.
Old Louisiana State Capitol. Here’s a little history behind it: “New York architect James H. Dakin was hired to design the Baton Rouge capitol building; and rather than mimic the national Capitol Building in Washington, as so many other states had done, he conceived a Neo-Gothic medieval-style castle overlooking the Mississippi, complete with turrets and crenellations. Dakin referred to his design as “Castellated Gothic” due to its decoration with cast iron, which was both cheaper and more durable than other building materials used at the time. The building design was so unusual and distinctive that its romantic, medieval appearance earned the Old Statehouse ridicule from the timelessly famous author, Mark Twain.”
Some of my favorite pictures have been taken thanks to “I pulled over for this” moments. I’m sure you’ve had that moment when you’ve been on the road. You pass by something fascinating or beautiful and you make the call to delay your trip, get off the road and capture and embrace the moment. That’s what happened when I was on a road trip along the Great River Road in Louisiana with my mom. We had visited a few plantations and were trying to find a restaurant for lunch and as we were driving we passed this church. I looked at her and she looked at me and we knew we just had to pull over and see this beauty, St. Philip Catholic Church, right as a storm was moving in. I was thankful to be able to get a few photos before the rain came down.