Sunday, May 10, 2015

Oak Alley and Evergreen Plantations


Beautiful Oak Alley Plantation is an antebellum sugar cane plantation located in Vacherie, Louisiana, at 3645 Highway 18 (Great River Road), along the Mississippi River.  It is one of the most popular and most photographed of the Louisiana plantations, due to its alley of 300 year old live oak trees that line its front entrance. It is a mystery who first planted the oak trees, that long ago, but their canopy of branches have made this one of the most dramatic entrances to a home along the Old River Road.  (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)


The back entrance to Oak Alley Plantation.

During my husband and my visit to New Orleans this past February (see post Part 1 and Part 2 to read about our experiences in New Orleans), we decided to take a side trip to visit a few plantations. We booked through The Old River Road Plantation Adventures company, and they picked us up at our hotel early one morning in their tour bus.  The driver/guide was a very interesting man of Cajun descent who was a wealth of information on all topics related to New Orleans, and the plantations we were going to tour, telling us about Code Noir, daily plantation life, slave auctions, customs of the day, Creoles and life in antebellum New Orleans. He kept us entertained with many stories as he drove the approximate 40 minutes towards Vacherie.


The Oak Alley house was originally known as Bon Sejour and was built in 1839 by Jacques Roman, where he lived along with his wife Marie Therese and children. until his death in 1848 from tuberculosis. His wife and then oldest son managed the estate, but lost everything after the Civil War and they put the house up for auction in 1866.  It had successive owners and by 1925 was purchased by Andrew and Josephine Stewart. who were able to produce sugar cane again on its grounds.  When Mrs Stewart passed away in 1972 she left the house and grounds to the Oak Alley Foundation, which opened them to the public.



We went on a half hour tour inside the house. led by a guide in era costume.


 Portraits of the first owners and period furniture and accessories on display inside.


More views inside the house and of the porches and grounds.


Evergreen Plantation is located at 4677 Highway 18, in Edgard, Louisiana. The plantation includes 37 contributing buildings, all but eight of them antebellum, making it one of the most complete plantation complexes in the state and in the south.


The main house was constructed in 1790 and renovated to its current Greek Revival style in 1832. It was a privately owned operating sugar cane plantation until the depression in 1930, when it became bank owned.


It also has several alley of stately live oak trees on its grounds, although they do not lead up to the front of the house as they did in Oak Alley.


The Evergreen trees were draped with live moss that gently swayed in the wind.


Among the outbuildings are a separate kitchen, two "garconniere" where young bachelors of the family or guests could stay, two"pigeonnier" for keeping pigeons, which were a sign of status among the plantation holders, an overseer's cottage and late 19th century barns. We toured the inside of the house, but photography was not allowed.  You can see photos of the interior at this link.


Most haunting of all are the 22 original slave quarters arranged in a double row configuration.


Here African slaves were housed, two families to a cabin. They labored in the sugar cane fields and in the big house for the plantation owners until they were emancipated after the Civil War. After the Civil War freed African Americans continued to work on the plantation and lived in the quarters until 1947.


One of the homes was open to the public.


All that was left inside was the bare floor and walls and dividing fireplace in the middle. 


Outside this cabin were informative placards that describe the roles the African slaves served on the plantation, the archaeology project held here, along with.....
.

..the history of the antebellum era and the role of the freed African Americans. Click on the photo collages to enlarge them to read this interesting information.


It was sobering to think how human life was bought and sold in those days, and of the lives of those who lived here.


After visiting the two plantations we had lunch with our group, and then our Louisiana Plantation Adventure guide dropped us at the optional Cajun Pride Swamp Tour. The boat tour guide was a native Cajun who told us many fascinating stories about growing up and living on a bayou. This swamp is privately owned and is now a wildlife refuge. The guide told us about a terrible hurricane in 1915 that swept through this area, where many unidentified bodies were buried right where they were found, along the shore of the swamp.

Unfortunately, the weather was too cool for the alligators in the swamp to be active, but we did see some interesting wildlife:


We witnessed a dramatic struggle between a fish and a Cormorant bird, that went on for quite a while. The bird was victorious and eventually swallowed the fish whole!


We were also amused by quite a few raccoons who followed along the shore as the boat passed by.


They were obviously hoping someone would toss them a treat!


Taking a peek into life, both past and present, along the mighty Mississippi River in Louisiana was very enjoyable, and a nice side trip to take when visiting New Orleans. As the song says: Old Man River certainly "keeps on rolling along."  

Before we left New Orleans we visited the new National World War II Museum. I'll share highlights of that visit on my Memorial Day blog post, coming in a few weeks. In the meantime, I want to catch up on our life back in Colorado. We have snow for Mother's Day again this year, but thankfully the weather will return to the 70's and low 80's in a few days and I think that will be the end of frost until the fall.

  Wishing everyone a very Happy Mother's Day! 

I'm linking this post to the following blog events:
Thank you to all the blog hosts!

!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --> Bookmark and Share Pin It

43 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, what an awesome tour of the plantation..It is beautiful from the outside. I love the pretty trees. The view of the outdoor staircase is lovely.. Thanks for sharing your visit. Happy Mother's Day to you!

happywonderer.com said...

Such a great dramatic place to visit. Love the tree lined drive!

Snap said...

Happy Mother's Day! Isn't Louisiana an interesting place??!! So different from the other states -- really a world of its own. I've visited several of the plantations and always learn something new. Really enjoyed your post. I have a dear friend who is living in Louisiana now ... many trips to come! Love the oak trees and the spanish moss.

Parsimonious Perfection said...

Wonderful and also touching post Pat....love this reminder of how far we have come as a country, a reminder of the haves and have nots. Have a blessed and wonderful Mother's Day, thank you for sharing!

Vee said...

Snow! Oh my. That's about enough of that.

This New Orleans trip must have been so interesting. It is sobering to see the slave quarters and to think that slavery goes on all around the world boggles the mind. I'd prefer to think that we are beyond that.

I will go look for some inside photos following your link...what a beautiful antebellum home.

No Thanks. said...

Great stories and incredible photos! One minor suggested fix: Oak Alley Plantation was, and still is, a sugar cane plantation, not a sugar beet plantation.

Michelle said...

Oak Alley is a beautiful place. We visited there, along with the neighboring Laura plantation. I highly recommend a visit to the Laura plantation. I can now see that I need to visit Evergreen!

Betsy Adams said...

Hi there, Just stopping by to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to you. I’m sure you are having a fabulous day. I celebrated yesterday when one of my sons and his beautiful wife came to see us….

As you probably know, we’ve been out-of-town this past week and I haven’t done any blogging much at all. I hope you enjoyed my two Tulip blog posts while we were gone——and be sure and tune in tomorrow morning to find out what we’ve been doing this past week….

Enjoyed your post today!Since I have visited all of those areas (plantations, etc.)---your post brought back great memories. I always thought that I'd enjoy being a tour guide at one of the plantations... BUT--when I lived there, I was working and raising kids by myself....

Hugs,
Betsy

Pondside said...

I think it was a great idea to book that tour, and I will file away the name of the company. You managed to see much more than we did when we tried it out on our own by car.
I loved looking at the inside of the houses - those twin canopy beds are lovely!

Annesphamily said...

As I kid my folks took us to visit my mom's youngest sister in Baton Rouge and my aunt and uncle took us on many tours. Even as a child, I was stunned at the treatment of different classes of people and how so many still lived in so much poverty back then. I remember my father saying always treat everyone you meet with kindness because God is always watching. I have always appreciated the various history lessons I learned. Thank you for sharing your trip and I hope your Mother's Day was wonderful! Have a good week!

diane b said...

It is a very interesting historical part of your country. I really wanted to sea Oak Plantation when I was there but we ran out of time and as we had seen quite a few antebellum homes during the trip the others preferred to see more of New Orleans instead, Your photos are beautiful and it is almost like being there in person. The slave quarters were interesting too.

Latane Barton said...

Those are such fascinating pictures. And, I love, love, love that beautiful house with the sweeping entry stairs. I could SO live there.

SmilingSally said...

Hi Pat,

You are living the retired dream! It seems every post is an adventure.

Isn’t it fun finding blues to share? Thanks for playing today.

Happy Blue Monday!

Ann said...

We went on the Cajun Swamp Tour last year and enjoyed it a lot. Never have been to the plantations but I really want to. You take such gorgeous pictures. The tree lined alley is my favorite.
ann

Jeanne said...

Good morning dear Pat. this post certainly got my attention. I would have loved to go on the tour of the wonderful old homes in the area. The plantation homes have always amazed me. Oak Alley is on my bucket list. I have heard of it for many years. Your photos tell the story of the history of the old homes so well. The preservation of the slaves homes and out buildings is so interesting. You always tell the history with your text and photos so well. Thank you for sharing your 'always' interesting adventures.

Hugs,
Jeanne

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A great tour indeed -- and the contrast between the mansion and the slave headquarters is heartbreaking, but a big part of our history that we must not forget.

We saw those beautiful live oak trees lining a walkway to a grand old home in Savannah -- loved them. And we have toured some plantations in South Carolina which are kind of the same. But it sounds like your tour and tour guide were exceptional!

And of course I loved the nature shots from the Bayou.... we love that kind of thing ... and we loved Louisiana!

Cindy @ Dwellings-The Heart of Your Home said...

Amazing homes! The live oaks too, just beautiful.
Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!
Blessings,
Cindy

Fun60 said...

What an interesting post. The oak trees make an impressive frame to the house. It is good to remember our history.

Photo Cache said...

Without a doubt, this is on my bucket list. Always been fascinated by the entry to this plantation.

Worth a Thousand Words

Donna said...

An amazingly beautiful place with those live oaks and so sobering...

edenhills said...

What an amazing place! Beauty. History. Nature. Thanks for sharing it.

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

Such a grand plantation home and grounds and I love how the oaks have knit together.
The slave shacks are rather depressing though aren't they? Two families together wouldn't allow for any privacy. I enjoyed the tour thanks Pat.
Thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday.

Rajesh said...

Fantastic place. I love that first shot.

ladyfi said...

Wow! Amazing trees - so beautiful. And what an impressive house with those sweeping double staircases.

Ola said...

I love the trees in the front of the house-amazing!

Leiah said...

Oak Alley is one of my favorite places here in Louisiana and always has been. We recently began researching my husband's ancestry for his inclusion in the Veterans of the Confederacy and discovered his 7x great-grandmother was the daughter of Mr. Roman, the original owner of Oak Alley.

Ida said...

It's a dream of mine to tour Oak Alley and some other plantation homes in the south. I've been a fan of that style of home every since I read GWTW and saw the movie. What a grand life style they led. Yes the slavery was wrong but one has to remember that not everyone mistreated their slaves. I don't believe in slavery but it was a part of history. You were so lucky to visit this place and I so enjoyed all of your amazing photos.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

We took a plantation tour when we visited New Orleans years ago but we did not see this one. I do wish we had! We great photos you got during the swamp tour.

NC Sue said...

Gorgeous photos of a striking place - would love to visit there myself.
Thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/05/a-walk-on-beach.html

Sara D.B. said...

What a fascinating tour, Pat! Dramatic stories and photos...
For the joyful side, I have never seen raccoons as cute as those in your photos!
Wonderful photos. Have a lovely day!

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

As always, gorgeous photos!

TexWisGirl said...

the oak alley is amazing! to see it in person must have been wonderful. the staircases on that plantation mansion are breathtaking. but as you said, the row of slave cabins was completely sobering, like a punch to the gut. the beauty and grandeur lost a great deal of shine.

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

The trees are just amazing...I loved the shot of them lining the drive and then the moss covered trees...how lovely!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

I'm smiling here as I read this post. It brings back such good memories of our visit to New Orleans and 'plantation alley'. We toured Oak Alley and the Laura plantation. Both were amazing...we learned a lot. Thanks for sharing your visit with us!

John's Island said...

Hi Pat, Wow, What a great post on the plantation. I feel like I've been there. Great work! Thank you for sharing and for your comment on my blog about the train museum in Golden Colorado.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

What a grand entrance to the plantation main house. The alleé of trees really sets it up beautifully. You and Vinny are just so lucky to be having so many wonderful retirement adventures -- and have those adorable grandchildren too.

Nancy's Notes said...

What a stunning plantation! Be still my heart, oh my!

Gracie said...

That's so interesting....it's something we usually see only in movies. Another good page on your travels' diary.

Rue said...

Hi Pat :)

Reading about your Louisiana trip was so much fun this morning! I was in New Orleans for only a day to get on the Delta Queen when it was still running, but we didn't have time to see the sites. The food alone looks like it would be worth a trip back lol

Thank you for taking me with you ;)

xo,
rue

La Petite Gallery said...

I have been to one Plantation, it had Camellias growing every where, The owners let me pick them and I flew home to Fl. with a beautiful Table centerpiece.
New Orleans is so special. Those Oak trees are a gift from God.
I have a Raccoon that is busting up my new hav-s-heart Squirrel cage. They are so cute. Well, back to yard work. yvonne

Pamela Gordon said...

Beautiful photos of this historic mansion. The alley of live oaks is incredible to see. Thanks for sharing the history of this plantation and all your wonderful photos Pat.

Gayle said...

My kind of tour. Not for the beauty alone; but for the history within its walls and surrounding area.
Thanks for the post Pat.

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

imagine living in the owner's house, and then the slave's cabin.