Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Trip to Creole Country: Laura Plantation

I've been to New Orleans before, but it's been years and we never left the French Quarter.  Now that my son and his wife are living there, Breck and I took the opportunity to visit again.  This time, however, we never came close to the French Quarter and had a completely different experience.  Besides shopping and eating our way down Magazine Street, taking in a Cowboys/Saints football game, and hanging out in a sports bar playing Bocce, we also visited a couple old plantations on the Mississippi river.  They could not have been any different from each other.

The first was a Creole plantation named Laura painted in rich Caribbean colors.

Our guide was wonderful and did a great job laying out the history of the family that ran the plantation with all it's ups and downs.

He explained that the family used the plantation as more of an office than a home spending most of their time in town homes they owned in New Orleans.

They had the largest wine collection in the area

I still find it amazing when I walk in places that have so much history.  These bricks were made by slaves from mud dredged from the the Mississippi river which is only 600 feet or so from the front door.

The Live Oaks out front are 200 years old, planted by the family when they built.

In 2004 a fire burned much of Laura and the charred wood can be seen throughout the home.  restoration took 3 years, but much of the damage was left maintaining its authenticity.

This brick has crumbled to powder as had many that we saw.

Dinning Room
This is part of the house that burned where they left the walls exposed showing the construction underneath the plaster that exists in the other rooms.

Here the floors were rebuilt with pine though the rest of the house is cypress since it is no longer legal to harvest cypress in Louisianna.

After leaving the main house we walked through the gardens of citrus, persimmon, fig, and banana to tour the slaves quarters.

Two families of slaves shared these homes.  Interestingly, many slaves remained on the property after emancipation and continued to work the sugar cane fields.

Wooden bowl and stirring stick
 In fact, many of the homes were lived in until 1977 when the inhabitants were forced to leave and many of the buildings were torn down.  No running water, folks.

Why were they torn down?  Because the owners wanted to sell and thought removing them would make it more marketable.  Luckily some were not destroyed.

There is one other very grand home on the property that was home to one of the women in the family who resided there for 30 plus years.

The photo above represents the home in its heyday.  Time has not been so kind and the building is now in complete decline.  The front porch has long since collapsed and been removed.

Still beautiful, but in a different way now.

I had planned to tell you about both plantations in one post, but once I started I found it was too much to cover.  I'll show you Oak Alley Plantation in my next post, but here is a picture to show you not to expect any similarities.

Oak Alley Plantation