Monthly Archives: December 2014

Laura

A Creole Plantation, Vacherie, LA

Prior to the Civil War, more than half of America’s millionaires lived between New Orleans and Natchez, along the Mississippi River.

Many plantation homes have been destroyed, but also many were saved.  This Laura Plantation house was built in 1805, but according to my tour guide the plantation itself predates the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

Laura Plantation House
The Laura Plantation House of 1805, painted in the colours found after years of white paint were removed.
Interior Laura Plantation House
Interior of the Laura Plantation House, which has almost all period furniture.

Laura was a five thousand hectare sugar plantation, with a six kilometer road lined with sixty-nine slave cabins, six of which remain.  Laura was a functioning plantation into the twentieth century, with some slave cabins occupied as recently as 1977.

The life of a slave changed significantly after the French sold the territory.  The French had rules, one of which was that nobody was allowed to work on Sunday.  If work was required, the slave would be paid.

In French Louisiana, only Catholics were permitted to have slaves, and all slaves had to raised Catholic.  Saves had to be provided with food, shelter and clothing, and could be punished, even severely.

When the US took over Louisiana, slaves lost any slight protections that they had.

Slave Cabin Laura Plantation
Slave cabin at the Laura Plantation. Each would house two families, with a fireplace on the shared wall.  Out back might be a garden or a pigsty.

It was here, at Laura Plantation, that the west African folktales of Compair Lapin were first recorded, in the 1870’s, to be known in English as B’rer Rabbit.

Tours of the home and grounds are available daily, in both English and French.

Laura Plantation
Laura Plantation buildings near sunset

Here’s a YouTube video showing a tour of the Laura Plantation from 2012.

Malus – Beauregard House

The Malus-Beauregard House is located at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Malus-Beauregard House
Front of the Malus-Beauregard House

The house was originally built by Madeline Pannetier Malus, in 1833 or 1834 in a French Colonial Style, facing the Mississippi River.  She died in 1835, and the house was purchased by Caroline Fabrice Cantrello, and remodeled to the Greek Revival Style, as it now stands.

Verandah

 

The rear veranda of the Malus-Beauregard house, identical to the front.  The sweeping veranda and huge columns make the home appear much larger than it is.  There are only five rooms on the main floor, and likely the same amount on the second floor, which was not open during my visit.  All of the rooms are unfurnished.

Veranda

 

Rene Beauregard purchased the home in 1880.  He would be the last private owner.  Subsequently, it was owned by the New Orleans Terminal Company until 1949.

Now, it is part of the Chalmette National Historical Park, and has been restored to the 1856 – 1866 period.

This location is where the Battle of New Orleans took place in 1815, and is also home to the Chalmette National Cemetery.  Now closed to new interments, it is the home to soldiers from the Revolutionary War to the Viet Nam War.

Chalmette National Cemetery
Chalmette National Cemetery

 

Magnolia Mound

The Magnolia Mound Plantation House is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, near the Mississippi River, located about one mile south of the downtown area.  It was built in the French Creole style in 1791, with an addition in the early 1800’s.

Front of House
Front of House
Front Porch
View of the front porch

The main room has a rare cove ceiling, and many federal accents were added throughout the house.  Like most large homes of the period, the kitchen was a located in a separate building, due to fear of fire.

Kitchen
The kitchen, separate from the main house.

The original grounds of the plantation were six hundred acres, and there were fifty slaves to work them.  Cotton, indigo, tobacco and sugar cane.

By 1966 the house had fallen into disrepair, and the city of Baton Rouge used “eminent domain” to acquire it, and sixteen of the remaining acres.  None of the original slave cabins remained, so one was brought in from the area.

Plantation slave cabin, original to the period.
Plantation slave cabin, original to the period.

Baton Rouge is not a huge tourist draw, even more because New Orleans is less than ninety minutes away.  There are several places here of interest to those who appreciate history and architecture and are worth checking out.

This was my first stop when I arrived, before checking into my hotel.  Well worth a couple of hours of your time, and the guide was most knowledgeable.

Siesta Key Beach

I’ve purchased a new camera:  Samsung WB350F.  There’s much to learn, and it’s WiFi enabled.  I took it to Siesta Key Beach today for a test run.

Siesta Public Beach
Siesta Key Beach Historic Marker
Siesta Key Beach
Welcome to Siesta Beach

Siesta Key Beach has regularly been voted one of the top ten beaches in North America.  Cross a bridge from the mainland, a short drive through the village, and there you are.  There’s a large, but not large enough, parking lot.  Pass over a small sand dune and you are greeted by a vast expanse of powdery white sand.

Volleyball
Volleyball on Siesta Key Beach
Lifeguard Stand
Lifeguard Stand on Siesta Key
Lifeguard
Second of three lifeguard stations on Siesta Key Beach

It was a less than optional beach day.  Cool and breezy, with sporadic sun.  One important thing with the new camera was when the sun did come in, the viewing screen became a mirror.  Almost fully useless.

The water goes on forever
Siesta Key Beach

The green flags were out at the lifeguard stations.  Here on the gulf side of Florida, one can walk out into the water for ages at still be only knee deep.  However, even then, as I discovered, it still possible to be bitten by a sting ray.  Ouch!

Every Sunday evening at dusk, there is a drum circle.

 

 

This is a beautiful beach, in a beautiful location.  If you want to go, arrive early, or you will not get a parking spot.