I’ve had the pleasure of visiting an old plantation near Charleston years ago and while we were in New Orleans for our long visit, my sister and I went to Vacherie, LA to check out Oak Alley Plantation, an antebellum mansion. It was such an interesting place and we enjoyed every minute of our beautiful day there. Old South sugar plantations like this that date back before the Civil War are just fascinating to see. I’ve seen movies from the Old South and this just brings it alive even more.
By the way, here are just a few of the movies and entertainment videos that have been filmed at the plantation, along with other media coverage:
Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964)
The Long Hot Summer (1985)
Interview with the Vampire (1993)
Primary Colors (1997)
Beyonce Videos (2006)
The 300 year old canopy of Virginia Live oak trees (or alley) of Oak Alley plantation are a quarter mile long and were planted in the early 1700’s by an unknown settler. The 28 oaks were inducted into the Live Oak Society in 1995 and each tree was registered and given a name. The house was built in 1836 by Jaques Roman, a wealthy sugar planter who lived in New Orleans and built the plantation for his wife, Celina. Here’s a fascinating bit of this tour. The house is said to have been designed by Celina’s father, Gilbert Joseph Pilie (pronounced Pil-ee-a) and this is of special note to our family, since Lauren married a Pilie from New Orleans. They know for sure that Gilbert Joseph is a relative and all of them are related. How about that?
There have been several owners since then and in 1972 the Oak Alley Foundation was formed by the last owner, Josephine Stewart and she set it up so that it would be taken care of and it was opened to the public as a tourist attraction. They have corporate events, weddings, private parties and more at Oak Alley these days. You can take a self-guided walking tour of the sugar plantation grounds and see replicas of the 20 slave cabins that once stood behind the house. They’ve been rebuilt to size and inside is lots of information about how the plantation was run and the slaves that were here during those pre-Civil war days. Showing the daily life of the slaves, these exhibits cover health care, punishment, and life after emancipation. The plantation ran with slaves from 1835 until the end of the Civil War, 1865.
The large Greek Revival house of Oak Alley Plantation.
Isn’t she grand?
A sidewalk was built going from the main road to the house. This is looking back towards the road.
The 300 year old Virginia Live oaks are something to see, their twisted and gnarly branches dipping to the earth.
The back side of Oak Alley plantation house.
The trees and vegetation on the property are just beautiful. We took our time walking around and it was a perfect sunshine day.
The rebuilt slave quarters which had deteriorated over the years.
Very fascinating to read about the slaves who were housed here before the Civil War. Of course, we all know that slavery is a horrible thing that we did here in the US, but it is part of our Southern history.
Inside the cabins, there is clothing displayed showing what they wore.
Artifacts and other plantation instruments are in displayed in the cabins.
Enslavement, identity and dress.
Tools used on the sugar plantation.
You know what this is, right? Outhouses were prevalent, I’m sure. I’ve used my share of these over the years. They seem to have been all over the South way back in the day. No, we didn’t have one of these at our house, but I’ve used them in rustic situations in the mountains.
A winding paved sidewalk connects all the houses to the parking area and the Big House.
View of the back of the Big House.
One side of the Big house.
I did some fashion photos here and you can see how big these doors are.
Inside the big foyer, I joined a large group for our guided tour.
Look at the main staircase.
The molding and millwork in the house is just spectacular.
A peek into the living room.
The guides are dressed in period costumes and this young lady was very good and informative.
Some of the period pieces around the house.
The large dining room was something to see. What a table!
She explained that during dinner, one of the slaves would come in and using a pulley system, pull this big fan over the table, moving it back and forth to keep the air circulating and the flies away from the table.
She demonstrated a fly catcher jar on the table. They would be attracted and fall into the water.
Table settings and the fly catcher jar.
One of the large fireplaces in the house.
Such chunky millwork and details all over the house. They really built homes with lots of details back then.
One of the bedrooms in the house.
These rooms were large and had plenty of furniture.
The master bedroom was so big and spacious.
A beautiful chandelier hanging in the master.
The master bed. They lived very well back then, didn’t they?
Another view of the master bedroom. Check out the old plank floors.
Oh, the things this house has experienced and seen over the years.
A lady’s pink bedroom.
With twin beds and canopies.
From the top balcony, you can see the canopy of trees well.
Peeking down below at my sister and baby Parker. She’s learned how to wave now and it’s SO cute. She steals our heart! We couldn’t take the stroller inside, so when Parker got loud, she took her out. She loves her stroller when she’s moving and seeing things.
A view of the gardens.
Upstairs porch that wraps around the house. Can you imagine the upkeep on this house?
One last room, the office in the house.
When we got to the plantation, it was almost lunch time, so we ate a nice lunch in the restaurant.
They were all decorated for Mardi Gras.
I hope you enjoyed tagging along with me to Oak Alley Plantation. I would highly recommend going and checking it out if you are in the area. It’s about an hour from New Orleans and easy to get to. It also sits on the river, but we didn’t get close to the river to see that part. It’s an amazing place and I love seeing Southern history preserved like this.