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Louisiana’s stunning plantation homes offer a unique insight into daily life during the Antebellum Era. While most of the state’s historic plantations are located along the Great River Road between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, there are a series of plantations located in West Feliciana Parish and St. Francisville. Roughly 35 minutes outside the state capital of Baton Rouge, these plantation homes have managed to stay in near-perfect condition thanks to local community efforts. If you want to avoid the lines, hear some ghost stories and speak directly with family descendants, these are the plantation homes you need to visit in St. Francisville this year.
While the exterior and alleyway aligned with 200-year-old oak trees closely resemble that of Oak Alley Plantation, Rosedown Plantation’s true beauty lies in its 18-acred pleasure gardens. These intricate gardens were the life’s work of Martha Turnbull, whose husband was one of the richest men in the US back in the 1800s. Inspired by their honeymoon in France and Italy, Martha steadily mapped out the intricate gardens, and many of the plants she originally rooted are still thriving today. Members of the Turnbull family lived in the home well into the 1950s and eventually sold it to Catherine Fondren Underwood. Underwood used Martha’s detailed diaries to restore the gardens and grand home, giving visitors remarkable insight into the daily lives of the family and slaves who once lived there. Rosedown Plantation is a state historic site and is managed by the Louisiana Office of State Parks.
Perhaps the most famous plantation in all of West Feliciana Parish, Myrtles Plantation, established by renegade “Whiskey Dave” back in 1796, is shrouded in local legend and folklore. The most infamous story is of Chloe, a slave girl who mistakenly poisoned the owner’s children and wife in an act of revenge. Current owners claim the home is one of the most haunted homes in America, citing no less than a dozen ghosts and other bizarre encounters on the property. Now a popular bed-and-breakfast, guests eagerly claim to have seen and spoken to Chloe in addition to seeing objects move on their own. You can decide for yourself if you believe the tales by partaking in one of the daily tours — or staying the night.
Oakley Plantation predates several plantation homes across the state and is the only one that can claim itself as a temporary home to artist and naturalist John James Audubon. Built in 1803 and now part of the Audubon State Historic Site, Audubon lived at the home for four months during the 1830s. An arrangement with the mistress of the plantation allowed him to serve as a part-time tutor to her daughter. In exchange, Audubon used his free time to study and sketch the local wildlife. The deal was well worth it as Audubon created 32 paintings — all of which are featured in his famous Birds of America collection — during his time there.
Plan Your Visit
St. Francisville is located in the very heart of Plantation Country, but this hidden gem can be easy to miss if you’re driving too fast down Highway 61. A long weekend getaway will give you ample time to explore the plantation homes and countless historic sites in the area. Don’t just view history — embrace it with a one-of-a-kind stay at a plantation home. Carriage Plantation, Myrtles Plantation, Butler Green Plantation and Greenwood Plantation each offer overnight accommodations. Carriage Plantation (pictured above) in particular offers guests a free one-hour tour after its breakfast service as well. With one of these stunning historic homes as your base, you’ll be able to easily explore this sleepy town at your leisure. Click here to start planning.