Tour Laura Plantation, A Creole Plantation in Vacherie Louisiana

Today I’m taking you inside Laura Plantation, another one of the many plantation homes I toured with my friend Linda on our trip to the New Orleans area back in May of this year.

Laura is a Creole plantation located on River Road in Vacherie, Louisiana. It is midway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I’ve heard the word Creole many times over the years but I never knew exactly what it meant. Per the Laura Plantation website, Creole refers to the non-anglo culture and lifestyle that flourished in Louisiana prior to it becoming part of the United States in 1803. Louisiana Creole is made up of three different ethnic influences: west European, west African, and Native American.

Laura Plantation, Vacherie Louisiana 1

 

The Laura Plantation site describes the Creole lifestyle this way:

“The Creole functioned in an elitist structure, based on family ties.  In its philosophy, economics and politics, European custom and modern thought were thrown out and, in their place, a strict, self-serving pragmatism was born out of the isolation and desperation that characterized Louisiana in her formative years. The earliest, tragic lessons of survival in Louisiana created a family-oriented world that would, for centuries, put little value in public education or public works and even in the rule of law.”

Until the 20th century, the inhabitants of this area spoke French and preferred to remain separate from the more dominant Anglo-Saxon-Protestant American culture.

There are four massive trees in front of Laura Plantation. They are Live Oaks and you can see part of one in the photo above and below. The trees have been dated and named. They are: Nanette-208 years old, Elisabeth-189 years old, Desiree-189 years old and Laura-161 years old.

Laura Plantation, Vacherie Louisiana 2

 

Owned by Guillaume Duparc, the manor home was originally called l’habitation Duparc. Years later it was renamed Laura Plantation by Emile Locoul in honor of his daughter, Laura Locoul Gore.

Built in 1804, Laura Plantation was constructed high above the round on blue-gray glazed brick columns and walls that are supported underground by an 8-foot brick foundation.

The house was constructed of Cypress which was plentiful back then and inlaid with locally fired brick. They call that “briquette-entre-poteaux” which means brick between posts. You can see this more clearly in the photo below. Next it was plastered inside and stuccoed on the outside. One of the things that makes Laura special is its Federal style interior woodwork and Norman roof truss.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

Laura Plantation was painted in colors that were popular at that time: warm red, ocher, dark green, cool gray and mauve. At one time Laura encompassed 12,000 acres and the primary crop was sugarcane. Laura Plantation sits on 13 acres now and it’s still surrounded by sugarcane that continues to be grown in this area.

Laura Plantation, Vacherie Louisiana

 

This large planter harkens back to the days when Laura Plantation was a working sugar cane plantation. The sugar mill for the plantation was located 1 mile behind the manor house, surrounded by sugarcane fields.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana 07

 

When you take a tour of Laura, the first place they take you is into the huge brick basement. I couldn’t remember what they stored in the large urns we saw there so I used a lifeline and emailed Linda, my touring companion for this trip. Fortunately, Linda has a working memory, unlike me! Also, she’s toured Laura several times. So there! 😉

She said the large urns were originally used to store oils and olives from Spain but the DuParcs used them to store milk, eggs etc… They were buried in the ground up to around the neck area to help keep the contents cool.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana 04

 

This is Elizabeth DuParc.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana 05

 

Elizabeth was one of the daughters of Guillaume and Nanette, the original owners of Laura Plantation.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana 01

 

I get lost in all the names since four generations of the Duparc-Locoul family called Laura Plantation, home. Here’s a family tree from the Laura Plantation website.

Family Tree

 

In 2004 an electrical fire started in an office that was attached to the home. You can still see evidence of the fire in the ceiling above the basement. There’s more info about the fire at the Laura Plantation site. It burned over 80% of the home. Fortunately, the majority of the furniture in the home was saved.

Laura Plantation Burned Timbers

 

The dining room at Laura Plantation… The floor plan for Laura is very simple. It’s basically two rows of five rooms that all open into each other with no existing hallways. Each room, in addition to opening up to other rooms, also has a least one set of French doors that open to the outside. This was great for cross ventilation in the Louisiana heat.

Laura Plantation Dining Room in Louisiana 16

 

We had a great tour guide and he had the cutest Cajun or Creole accent…very lyrical. I could have listened to him all day. Of course, since he’s from the area, we were really the ones with the accents. 🙂 If you would like to watch a cute video by a young lady named Katelyn, explaining the difference between the different accents you’ll find in Louisiana, check out this video: Louisiana Cajun/Creole Accents

Laura Plantation Dining Room in Louisiana

 

During the restoration after the fire, the doors throughout the home were elaborately painted as they were before the fire. What a labor of love!

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

I’ve always heard mirrors like this were placed down low so women could check their petticoats. Our guide said that’s a myth. He said the mirrors were placed really low this way to bring more light into rooms. I like the petticoat story better but I’m sure he was right.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

A bedroom inside Laura Plantation.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

A closer view…

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

The fireplace in the same bedroom…Laura Plantation, being a country home, didn’t have marble fireplaces so I’m pretty sure this is a faux application made to look like marble.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

Gorgeous bookcase secretary and writing desk…Laura Plantation is furnished with original antiques that were saved in the fire. Also, several pieces have been donated to the plantation by families of the original owners. How wonderful is that!

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

Another bedroom in Laura Plantation…

Antique Bed in Laura Plantation, Louisiana

 

Love the posters with their tobacco leaf design.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

This was a little office just off the bedroom above.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

A sweet crib…imagine all the generations that have slept in that sweet bed.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

I like the side rails on this child’s bed, such a great design for when children are too big for their little cribs.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

As we stepped out onto the back porch, I snapped a few pics of the brightly colored doors and shutters.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

It would be interesting to see how the design was made on the doors. They must have put the paint on the door and then dragged something through it to create the design, kind of the way we do with icing sometimes.

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

A brightly colored back porch ceiling…they weren’t afraid of color back then, were they?

Laura Plantation, Creole Manor Home in Louisiana

 

When Laura Plantation was first built, it was designed in a U-shape with the 2 back wings around a central courtyard. It had a detached kitchen building in back. The two wings were removed when the Waguespacks bought Laura Plantation.

I don’t remember the full story now but I remember the guide said there was some kind of family inheritance dispute and to settle it, two different family members each claimed their part of the inheritance by taking a wing off the main home.

I asked the guide why they would go to all that trouble, seems like it would just be easier to build from scratch. I think he said wood was hard to come by at that time so they just took the wings right off the house! Crazy, huh?! Can you imagine having to stand there and watch your home be torn apart? I can’t even imagine!

When the home burned, rather than rebuild the wings, they boarded up the area where they used to connect. The current owners hope to restore the wings one day.

Back View of Laura Plantation, Vacherie Louisiana

 

Hope you enjoyed this tour of Laura Plantation. If you ever head down to the New Orleans area, stop in and take the tour! Here’s another great article about Laura Plantation with information about its current owners and what inspires them to keep the history of Laura Plantation alive: Creole Country: Laura Plantation Rises From The Ashes

Laura Plantation, Vacherie Louisiana 1

 

To tour any of the other historic Louisiana and Mississippi plantation homes I’ve shared here at BNOTP over the past few months, click anywhere on the collage below and it will take you to the category page where you’ll find links to all the tours.

Louisiana Plantation Homes




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Comments

  1. bobbi duncan says:

    Thank you for the interesting tour. When I lived in Atlanta we had some neighbors from Louisiana and, boy, could they throw a Creole party–yum! The first home my husband and I had , a rental, had mostly cypress tongue and groove paneling, which was covered with soot from a previous fire. The landlord (a friend) said he would only charge us $45.00 a month for rent if we would clean and varnish the walls and wood floors and paint the remainder. We jumped at that–it was 1969 and, even back then, that was really cheap rent. My darling brother worked with me every day for almost one month so that the place would be gleaming from top to bottom before our wedding day, allowing us newlyweds a nice place to live. What a guy!

  2. Wow, gorgeous facade!

  3. Linda Page says:

    One interesting point is that the plantation was run by the women for three generations. The original owner gave the plantation to his daughter Elizbeth Duparc who turned it over to her daughter, Desiree Archinard Locoul, who in turn gave the plantation to her daughter, Laura Locoul. There were other plantations overseen by women after the husband died but would eventually be given over to the oldest son once he was old enough. But Laura was given to the daughters and their husbands were never in charge of Laura. This was very unusual for that day and time. I just love thus plantation and toured it for the first time when it had only been open for a few months. The owner, Charles Marmillion, was the tour guide and gave the best and most informative tour. I wish he still did the tours. Thanks, Susan, for the memory trip. I wish everyone could tour Laura for real but this is the next best thing.

  4. Thanks for the tour Susan…I so enjoyed it and I love touring old plantations..I have never toured any Louisiana yet….looks like Laura Locoul lived a very long life!…amazing pieces of furniture…can’t imagine how great it is to restore such a historical place…

  5. I have fallen in love with this house too! And thanks for another post that I can share with my French students. I especially love that they can date the trees. I love big old trees too! Also…I agree with you about the mirror and checking petticoats! Better story.
    sheila

  6. Interesting Plantation! The colors are amazing, very bold. My favorite thing is all the beautiful beds in the home. Thank you for a fun tour.

  7. I of course HAD to tour the “Laura” plantation. As loved it just as you did. Coincidently my traveling partner was my cousin Linda who at the time lived in the area. Thank you for bringing back a lovely memory. If you’re interested you can read my post which also featured the cabins on the property that inspired the tales of Br’er Rabbit .

    http://www.decortoadore.net/2010/08/plantation-homes.html

    • Laura, I’ll check it out! I had a paragraph at the end about Alcee Fortier and his ties to Laura Plantation…how he heard the Br’er Rabbit tales there, etc… but I removed it because I was confused because I thought those were written by Joel Chandler Harris, whose home I’ve toured many years ago. Hopefully your post will clear all that up for me.

  8. Oh, I really enjoyed this tour!! The history is wonderful, I love it……….they must have been a joyful group of people, the colors are lively as well as the food. I can see how they banded together and were separate. What a beautiful blend!!!

  9. Vicki Daugherty says:

    My husband’s relatives are from a nearby area to this plantation and I have always been curious about the difference between “Creole” and “Cajun”. All I know is that they both are amazing cooks! Interesting to note on the timeline that there was an early relative by the name of Prudhomme. Paul Prudhomme is a prominent name in New Orleans history and must be related somehow. Thanks for sharing this. Vicki in Louisville KY

  10. You are correct about the wood grain finish at the base of the doors. It is done with a tool called a “rocker”. It takes a good amount of skill to pull it off but, the effect is amazing. You can do all types of grains from oak to bamboo with these tools on a less expensive wood that has no grain design on it. A current version of these tools can be found at a hardware store or big box home improvement store.

  11. Hi, Susan,
    Thank you so much for the tour. I love looking into homes from this era, wondering what life was like for the people who lived there at that time. The furniture pieces are absolutely lovely and I had no idea homes were so colorful back then. I wonder how long the trip to the Sherwin-Williams store was!!(hee…hee). This series has been so much fun, and really makes me want to explore the area. Thank you for sharing your adventures on what must have been a great vacation! Rosie

    • Thanks, Rosie! I know, I was sooo surprised by all the color, too! I love it though. It was kind of refreshing after seeing all the stately elegant homes to see one that was so colorful. lol about Sherwin Williams. I wonder how they did mix their paint/pigments back then. That would be interesting to learn about!

  12. Oh, WOW! How gorgeous.

  13. Hi Susan,
    what a fun to see your tour through Laura Locoul Gore’s Plantation. I visited it once and made a post, too: http://silber-rosen.blogspot.de/2011/11/tea-and-memories-of-old-plantation-home.html.
    It didn’t chance much since that time. Did you read her fabulous book?
    Best greetings, Johanna

    • Johanna, you know what’s funny, when I created that post yesterday, I googled to read more about Laura and when I saw the cover of the book, I realized it was one I had. I bought it years ago and read about half of it. I kept thinking the cover of the book looked so familiar! I’ll check out your post! I need to get that book back out again. So glad you were able to visit, too!

  14. Susan, thank you for this tour. It is on my bucket list to travel to the South, hope it comes true.
    I just loved the furniture in this house, the large secretary and the small desk in the office. The cribs were so cute.
    What a pity they destroyed those two wings, how ridiculous to spoil a home like that.
    Did you taste Creole food when there?

  15. So FUN!! And, I have that yellow and cream bed-covering….think, “Pottery Barn”…franki

  16. That is I interesting that they referred to the bottom floor as the basement. Because we live at or blow sea level and flooding is always an issue, I have never seen a home with an actual basement as is often seen in other places where it is underground. Also, there are not many creole style homes here in south Louisiana so consider yourself lucky to be able to see one of the few that remain. Also, a huge census of creoles lived in New Orleans and throughout the French Quarter in an almost aristocratic society and were quite wealthy. And although creoles have Africian heritage, its very confusing sometimes when you consider Louisiana was a state that had many slaves that worked on our sugarcane plantations. So you had this group of very well off creoles who had slaves that worked for them. Just another strange thing about this state.

    I saw your other homes that you toured. We have so very many that have survived in the smaller towns between New Orleans and New Iberia and as far north as what we call River Road (along the Mississippi) Inasmuch as you admire architecture, I hope you get to see more of what we have here. Amazingly, many of these homes are still occupied, too. And that doesn’t even take into account the more modern, yet very distinctive A Hayes Town’s very popular architecture.

    • I tell ya, history was always my worst subject in school, so it doesn’t take much to confuse me. My eyes tend to glaze over when the guides start explaining about all the cultures and how they all came to be in the area. I just get lost in all of it. It’s all fascinating though and I’d love to learn more about that area and its history.
      I’ve never known what to call the lower part of a raised home when I’ve seen them Charleston and Savannah. In the article I linked to in the post, the one where they interviewed the owner, they referred to that lower area as the basement and I think that’s what our guide called it, too. Fortunately, that area didn’t flood during Katrina. Here’s the article where they interviewed the owner: http://blog.nola.com/living/2007/08/creole_country_laura_plantatio.html
      We toured 13-14 homes during the week I was there…a few were in Mississippi. There are several homes I haven’t shared yet but hope to share them all eventually. These posts take a really long time to create. This one took me a full day and I still didn’t include all the pictures I had wanted to share. It would really take several posts to do Laura Plantation justice.

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