You can find the most charming and popular plantation homes of the United States at New Orleans Plantations in Louisiana.
Each one of the plantations in New Orleans, Louisiana is inimitable and boasts of interesting tales that motivate tourists to visit these places over and over again. When you talk of New Orleans, one place to talk about is the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. Another is the New Orleans Plantations which is made up of several estates.
From New Orleans, you can drive further to South Louisiana which has become very popular for delightful antebellum structural design as well as numerous plantation homes. These estates were built several centuries ago.
Houmas House Plantation
Houmas House Plantation and Gardens used to be known as Burnside Plantation. It was developed during the late 18th century. The main house was finished in 1840. The plantation was named after the native Houma tribe which originally inhabited this portion of Louisiana. Eight edifices rest on 10 acres of this sprawling agricultural estate.
Houmas has been christened “Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road” and called by numerous people as the “Sugar Palace.”At some point in the 19th century, Houmas House was the biggest sugar producer in the entire United States. Alexander Latil constructed the plantation house patterned after the French colonial abode in 1775. In 1803, it became a sugar farm after the United States Government acquired the land through the historic Louisiana Purchase.
Soon after, Daniel Clark (first delegate from the New Orleans Territory to the American House of Representatives) bought the property and erected the first sugar mill alongside the river. Former General Wade Hampton purchased the holdings including the slaves from Clark. This man emerged as one of the richest property-owners and biggest keeper of slaves in the Southern US. An Irishman by the name of John Burnside acquired the farm for $1 million in 1857. The estate prospered although it was Colonel William Miles who succeeded in producing sugar at a very productive rate of 20 million pounds each year.
The great flood spared the Houmas House but the 1930’s Depression devastated the mansion until it was bought by Dr. George Crozat in 1940. Crozat was responsible for the transformation of this manor. The whole manor and grounds were renovated to mirror the luxurious lifestyle of wealthy sugar tycoons who resided at this mansion. 16 rooms of the house are filled with artwork and antique household fixtures. Meanwhile, visitors can walk around parts of verdant gardens which total 38 acres in all. Latil’s Landing, acclaimed as among America’s top 20 restaurants, is a favorite place of diners along with Café Burnside (popular for its Southern menu). Houma House also has an 8,000 square-foot gift shop.
Madewood is a former sugar estate which was named a National Historic Landmark in Napoleonville, Louisiana. It is said to be one of the most regal plantations and pre-Civil War residences that demonstrate the stylishness of that period in American history. It is snuggled in the middle of moss covered oak trees on numerous acres of hushed lands. The land is a historic place with local museums that showcase American culture.
The “Big House” now operates as bed and breakfast for tourists who can also use the authentic antique pieces. It is a perfect photography venue because of the impressive building architecture and superb landscape. At the same time, there is an old-fashioned family burial ground because estates during that time had their own graveyards. The cemetery is cordoned by a very old rusting iron fence and creaking steel gate. The tombs are quite old that you can hardly read the inscriptions.
Madewood Manor was constructed sometime between 1800 and 1848 for Colonel Thomas Pugh. The Greek revival design was made by Architect Henry Howard. It sits on a sugar estate that was as large as 10,000 acres. The Colonel was William Hill Pugh’s half-brother, owner of Woodlawn Plantation and Alexander Franklin Pugh who owned part of New Hope, Bellevue, Boatner, and Augustin estates. The area was used by Union forces during the American Civil War as a hospital. Madewood House was bought by Harold Marshall in 1964 and went through massive refurbishment until 1978. This property was passed on to Marshall’s sons. However, the modern Madewood plantation is open to the public every day. It has been transformed into a hub for cultural occasions and center for yearly arts events.
Indeed, Madewood is one of the “Great Plantations of the South” and the core of booming sugar production during the yesteryears. What distinguishes this farm from hundreds of other plantations in Louisiana is the plain fact that it was able to withstand the test of time. Yet, it has to cope with constant issues so that it will always function and be relevant. In fact, residents say that Madewood cropped up due to an ecological twist of destiny. For hundreds of years, the Mississippi River deposited fertile soil on both sides of the embankment during the flooding in spring. However, the river altered its course and left behind the stilted Bayou Lafourche. The marshland was a very abundant place.
In the early years of the 19th century, farmers produced varieties of sugar cane that were resistant to ice during winter. Aside from this, novel technology was brought in. Of course, manual labor was provided by American blacks. Some 63 sugar plantation homes were put up between the Mississippi River and Madewood. Unfortunately, the glory days were only momentary. The mill shut down operations during the late 19th century although farmers still continued to plant and harvest sugar cane. The yield was transported in trucks several miles away to other sugar mills for processing. When the Marshall clan acquired this sugarcane estate, it was already the time for the creation of a new invention.
Nottoway maintains a vantage point over the Great Mississippi River. The plantation is the definitive blend of Southern saga and warmth. It is considered a perfect venue for wedding receptions, leisure tours, fine dining, corporate affairs, and social retreats. This landmark mansion has eight bed and breakfast rooms with baths and exquisite furniture amenities. Designs include Italian and Greek with 15-foot high ceilings and doors that stand at 11 feet. Nottoway house is made up of the following:
- Three floors
- 64 rooms inside the house
- Six interior stairways
- Three contemporary baths
- 22 colossal square columns
- 200 windows and 165 doors
The crescent white ballroom has been adorned with Corinthian pilasters and hand-cast porticos. There have been recent additions such as the full-service restaurant; a couple of well-designed ballrooms for banquet dinners and meetings; five star hotel and cottage accommodations; outdoor swimming pools; indoor tennis courts; golf; and, health spa.
Cotton grower John Hampden Randolph ventured into sugar production in 1844 due to the prospects that it offered. Randolph mortgaged the Louisiana home as well as the 46 slaves for construction funds. This paved the way for the building of the first sugar mill operated by steam at Iberville Parish. Randolph became a successful sugar baron and purchased property for a so-called white fortress in 1855. Once again, it was the distinguished architect from New Orleans (Henry Howard) who designed the magnificent mansion. The building of Nottoway was finished after four years. It was home to the Randolph family until 1980 when it became a popular public facility.
Guests take pleasure in guided tours of the lush mansion and view the documentary of Randolph narrating the Nottoway story to his grandson. The museum displays relics such as historical documents and photographs that date back to the American Civil War. As of 2008, a total of $14 million has been invested in the reconstruction of the main mansion. Also included in the transformation were cabins designed in Arcadian style along with corporate suites, luxurious guestrooms, and honeymoon suite. The citadel’s ground level was converted into the upscale Mansion Restaurant with complete luxury amenities.
Ormond Plantation House is situated at Saint Charles Parish in Louisiana. The manor is patterned after a French and West Indies Creole farm house in the Mississippi. It was constructed with the use of bricks laid between vertical support studs made of cypress wood. The Ormond agricultural estate has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is currently owned by the Carmouche family. The parcel of land where the farm stands was given to a French national (Pierre d’ Tregpanier) who served during the American Revolution. The Spanish Governor from Louisiana rewarded the Frenchman with a big lot that extended from Mississippi up to Lake Pontchartrain. Pierre built a home on this land in 1789 which became the Ormond Plantation.
This plantation lies at the center of the German Coast of Louisiana. It started out as a farm for the tropical indigo plant just like other farms in this pace. Indigo was eventually replaced by a more profitable variety of sugar cane called ‘white gold” and the plantation flourished. Colonel Richard Butler of the United States Army purchased Ormond from the wife of Pierre d’ Tregpanier in 1805. The name Ormond came from Butler’s family abode (Castle Ormonde) in Ireland.
Ormond encountered hardships after the Civil War just like the other neighboring estates. It was auctioned off in 1874 and 1875 respectively. Senator Basile LaPlace Jr. finally procured the plantation in December 1, 1898. Unfortunately, the Senator was murdered by mysterious assailants believed to be members of the local Ku Klux Klan in 1899. The property was inherited by the widow of LaPlace and eventually by the mother. It was passed on to the Schexnayder family in 1900 which owned the place until 1926.
The Inter Credit Corporation eventually inherited Ormond from this family. The house began to fall apart but the ceiling, walls and covered entrance were repaired by the Browns who owned the Velvet Dairy enterprise in New Orleans. The Browns added modern facilities which included electricity, indoor plumbing systems and gas. Under the ownership of the Carmouches, it can be used for special tours, wedding receptions, luncheons, and different private events all year round.
Poche Plantation is now a combination of the RV Park and Resort and the historic bed & breakfast. Two families lived in this plantation within a span of 70 years. These were the clans of Judge Felix Pierre Poché as well as Judge Henry and Adele Himel. Judge Poché built the manor in 1867 on a 160-acre sugarcane farm many years before. In 1892, the judge relocated to New Orleans so the plantation served as a summer vacation place until it was sold to Judge Henry Himel.
Judge Poché was a successful lawyer and justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court as well as co-founder of the American Bar Association. Poche was noted for achievements in courtrooms and battlefields during the Civil War in Louisiana. In 2006, Poché Plantation provided shelter for more than 300 evacuees affected by Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flood. The property is now surrounded by white picket fences customized with columns having reverse caps. Today’s Poché Plantation is a popular camping site with bed and breakfast accommodations for city dwellers who want to relax and spend their weekend in Louisiana.
Saint James Parish hosts arts and crafts shows every year at the Poche Plantation which is known as the Southern Louisiana event. It is a non-profit show (for charity) which benefits the entire parish. Vendors are invited to exhibit as well as sell artwork and trade crafts. The regular event continues to entice visitors from Baton Rouge State Capitol and New Orleans. The Economic Development Board is one of the event organizers.
These historic sugarcane plantations in New Orleans have turned out to be local landmarks as well as popular tourist attractions. Perhaps, this is what has made the state of Louisiana and the port city of New Orleans well known in the United States. The plantations are also reminders of the hardships of farmers who were mainly responsible for the productivity of these agricultural estates for many decades.