Our third day was spent visiting some plantations further up the river from New Orleans. We visited three plantations and took guided tours through two of them.
The first one was Laura Plantation, named for the granddaughter of the woman who ran the plantation for most of her life. We didn’t take guided tour, but did purchase a DVD of the PBS documentary of this plantation. One of the most disturbing parts of the story was how the owner increased the number of slaves. While visiting the slave market in New Orleans, she noticed how inexpensive the young girls were, and decided to buy a number of them, and four males to hopefully impregnate the young girls. She referred to the unborn children as her “crop”, which highlights how little regard she had for the slaves.
Here is a picture of the restored plantation house, built in Creole style. Creole style dwelling were built off the ground on stone pillars, to allow for air flow to help cool the house. There were only three rooms, and no hallways, with large windows to help cool the house. The large pot in the foreground was originally used to boil the sugar cane.
The second plantation we visited was Evergreen Plantation. Evergreen Plantation is the most intact plantation complex in the South with 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including 22 slave cabins. Evergreen has its country’s highest historic designation and joins Mount Vernon and Gettysburg in being granted landmark status for its agricultural acreage.
Today, Evergreen Plantation remains a privately owned, working sugar cane plantation. People live here and work here. The woman who owns this property lives in the French Quarter and will come up here to entertain guests. Because it’s a private residence, we were not able to take pictures of the inside. The house was originally built in Creole style, but later modified to the Greek revival style you see in the picture.
One of the very interesting feature of this property were a pair of building on either side of the big house, called garconnaires. The purpose of these dwellings was to give the young men of the family a place to live once they turned 15, as they were not allowed to stay in the big house.
Evergreen is noted for having 22 intact slave cabins, something very rare. The main reason they are still standing, is that sharecroppers lived in them until the 1940’s. The cabins are 12 x 24 feet, with a wall down the middle that had a hearth for each side to share. A family lived in each half of the cabin.
While waiting for the tour to begin, you can purchase mint juleps to sip on while relaxing on the front porch. Here are Denise and Cassie relaxing with a cool drink while taking in the scenery, partly shown in the picture above.
One of the most impressive parts of the tour was the dining room. The large piece of fabric over the middle of the table had a rope tied to it that ran over pulleys to the corner. A servant would pull on the rope to get it moving and create a cooling breeze for the people at the table. Some times an ice sculpture would be in the middle to provide more cooling for the air.
On Tuesday, we toured one of the famous graveyards, which are unique for the above ground burial structures. Our daughter then showed us some of the other areas of New Orleans and we did some shopping, including picking up some steak and other items for supper.
On Wednesday, our last day, we did some more shopping in the French Market, to get some last minute items for the munchkins and others. We then went to Tulane University, and I helped Cassie load costumes in her car that were used in a recent play and needed to be dry cleaned. Then it was off to the airport for the first of our two flights that would get us to Minneapolis that evening.
This it what greeted us when we got back to the hotel. I did clear a some snow off before taking the picture. We arrived home a little after midnight, and were glad the day of traveling was finally over.
I am considering trying to make it back to New Orleans this fall, to relax by the pool and eat some more great food. Until then, we’ll have the great memories of this trip, especially spending time with our daughter.