The Plantation Homes of New Orleans
With a heritage rich in history, the city and surrounding areas of New Orleans are gifted with beautiful homes and architecture dating back to the 1780’s. Spend a day touring some of these antebellum homes and relive the days of Scarlett and Rhett.
One of my favorite homes is Oak Alley. It’s truly the quintessential southern antebellum home. The home’s massive Greek revival architecture is apparent in its 28 columns and veranda that completely wraps around all four sides of the building. Most stunning, perhaps are the two rows of 250-year-old oak trees that line the walk to the Mississippi River, hence the name Oak Alley. You can just imagine southern belles strolling down this walk with their parasols, enjoying the Louisiana breeze. After touring this magnificent home, you can grab lunch or dinner at Oak Alley Restaurant, and opt to extend your stay at one of the charming overnight cottages.
The Destrehan Plantation offers a satisfying tour as well. Just minutes from New Orleans (about 24 miles west of the city, or “upriver”), time has stood completely still at this grand antebellum home. Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, this majestic attraction is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains the oldest documented plantation home in the area. You can tour the home and view important historical documents kept here including some from the Louisiana Purchase and the 1804 “Jefferson Document,” signed by the former president himself. Throughout your tour, discover how the Destrehan family story intertwines with early American history, and count knowledge as your souvenir.
Architecturally divergent from the typical antebellum plantations found in Louisiana, the Laura Plantation was built in the Creole style. It has a wide veranda, lower ceilings, and is more sprawling than it is tall and grandiose. The home has recently been opened to the public, and restoration is still underway. Some of the most interesting parts of the plantation are the slave cabins that are still standing. There were once 69 of them, but today only 4 remain. Word has it that this home was the place of genesis for the “Tales of Br’er Rabbit” stories, thought to have roots in the orally-told stories of the enslaved people who lived on the plantation.
New Orleans’ Garden District is another inspiring place to see some of the city’s beautiful plantation-style homes. The entire area was once occupied by several plantations, but parcels were sold off to wealthy Americans who preferred not to live in the French Quarter with the Creoles. Originally, the area was developed with only a couple of houses per block, each surrounded by a large garden, (hence the name “Garden District”) but throughout the years each of these parcels was divided and sold off to build more homes, many of them in the “gingerbread” or “Victorian” style. The Garden District is perfect for wandering away your afternoon, and is well worth a visit during your stay in New Orleans.