Tour Nottoway Plantation, South’s Largest Remaining Antebellum Mansion

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Touring Nottoway Plantation

Back in May of this year, I spent an entire week in Louisiana and Mississippi touring 13+ plantation homes. I’ve never taken a whole week for the sole purpose of touring historic homes so this was a real treat.

One of the homes we toured was Nottoway Plantation located at 30970 Hwy. 405 on the Mississippi River Road, 2 miles north of White Castle, Louisiana. Nottoway is said to be the South’s largest remaining antebellum mansion and with 53,000 square feet of living space, it is huge!. It has 64 rooms, 7 staircases and 5 galleries and 365 openings, which I guess is referring to windows and doors.

Nottoway Plantation in White Castle Louisiana 42

 

Before we proceed with out tour, I should mention, this post has a gazillion pictures! I could have split the tour over two posts but I dislike doing that because it’s always nice to tour a house in full in one setting. So enjoy whatever part of this tour you have time for, then come back later for the rest when you have the time.

Nottoway was built in 1859 by John Hampden Randolph in the Greek Revival and Italianate style at a cost of $80,000. He is pictured below with his wife Emily and two of their eleven children.

John Hampden Randolph Family, Original Owner of Nottoway Plantation in White Castle Louisiana

 

The first room we entered was the ballroom and it totally threw me for a loop. It was so different from any room I’ve ever seen in any home, especially compared to the other plantation homes we toured that week. It was all white, even the furniture, draperies and floors were white! The only thing not white was the gold (gold leaf?) on the mirrors and the trim of the sofa. Elegant, and a little spooky.

Per Wikipedia, this was Mr. Randolph’s favorite room and he had the whole room painted white to “show off the natural beauty of all of the women, especially his seven daughters.”

(Picture below is from the Nottoway Plantation website.)

Nottoway Plantation White Ballroom

 

A beautiful view of the fireplace and the exquisite moldings.

Nottoway Plantation Ballroom 3

 

The ceiling medallions of today don’t even compare, do they?

Nottoway Plantation Ballroom 1

 

The ballroom showcases Corinthian columns and hand-cast archways.

Nottoway Plantation Ballroom 5

 

This long mirror was there to help the ladies check on their dresses and ball gowns. They had to make sure their ankles and hoops weren’t showing beneath their skirts. Showing your ankles back then was a huge no-no! Can you just imagine if they could see how we dress today?! They would probably faint right on the spot!

One article I found online said the floors in the ballroom were originally white tile. I wonder if it became damaged over the years and was replaced with wood. Definitely looks like painted wood now.

Nottoway Plantation Ballroom 2

 

Absolutely gorgeous mirror!

Nottoway Plantation Ballroom 7

 

Another mirror in the ballroom… I forgot to take a picture of the other fireplace, the one you see reflected in the mirror with the portrait of Mrs. Randolph above it. I didn’t know this at the time but have since read, when you’re in the room and walking around, Mrs. Randolph’s eyes appear to follow you.  Yikes!

Nottoway Plantation Ballroom 4

 

This was the Mr. Randolph’s study. The green color of the drapes, walls and fabric on the sofa is so pretty contrasting with the rich beauty of the wood/furniture pieces. The drapes remind me of that scene in Gone With The Wind when out of desperation, Scarlett sews a dress from her green velvet drapes. Remember that?

(Picture below from Nottoway Website.)

Nottoway Plantation Gentlemen's Study

 

Green velvet must have been a popular fabric for drapes back then. And dresses. 🙂

DressVia

 A dark, masculine-feeling marble fireplace, perfect for a gentlemen’s study.

Gentlemen's Study Fireplace, Nottoway Plantation

 

Beautiful Federal mirror! There are so many gorgeous mirrors in Nottoway. I wonder if the little balls on this particular mirror have a significance? There are 13 on a lot of Federal mirrors, representing the original 13 colonies. This mirror has 32 if I counted correctly.

This was probably where Mr. Randolph ran the business affairs of the plantation.

Desk in Gentlemen's Study, Nottoway Plantation

 

Desk, Gentlemen's Study, Nottoway Plantation

 

Visiting Nottoway Plantation is such an amazing experience, not just for the home but for the antiques throughout. Any antiques specialist out there? If you recognize a piece, leave a comment letting me and I’ll add that info to this post. I think this could be in the Empire style.

Gentlemen's Study in Nottoway Plantation

 

I think this is Empire, too. It always makes me sad when I see gorgeous pieces like this being painted over. I love the look of painted furniture but adore the rich patina of gorgeous mahogany and walnut pieces. I even like it when old furniture has a few scratches and dents. I see those and dream about its past lives and the folks who enjoyed and loved it before me.

Nottoway Plantation Gentlemen's Study

 

A last glance into the Gentlemen’s Study as we leave the room.

Gentlemen's Study Nottoway Plantation

 

The dining room is breathtakingly beautiful! It makes me want to go bold and paint one of my yellow rooms a bright yellow! (Picture below from Nottoway Website.)

Nottoway Plantation Dining Room

 

The table was set the day we visited.

Nottoway Plantation Dining Room

 

Let’s move a bit closer and take a look at the china.

Nottoway Plantation Dining Room

 

So pretty! The plates are all hand-painted, each with a different scene.

Nottoway Plantation China in Dining Room

 

The sideboard…

Nottoway Plantation sideboard in Dining Room

 

Another gorgeous mirror here in the dining room!

Nottoway Plantation Dining Room Mirror

 

Nottoway Plantation has a music room. I can just imagine all the children in here taking their music lessons. I wonder if the boys took lessons or if that was only for the girls? (Picture below from Nottoway Plantation website.)

Nottoway Plantation Music Room

 

I snapped a quick picture of this chair. I think the guide said they were often stuffed with Spanish moss and sometimes horse hair. I wonder how they got the bugs that live in Spanish moss out of it first.

Nottoway Plantation Chair Stuffed With Horsehair

 

I always drool over the chandeliers on these historic home tours.

Nottoway Plantation Chandelier in Music Room

 

The harpe in the music room…

Nottoway Plantation Harp in Music Room

 

This was a cabinet designed especially for storing sheet music. It’s amazing to think how old this piece is and it still looks great!

Nottoway Plantation Sheet Music Cabinet

 

This was the master bedroom where Mrs. Randolph was known to stow away items of value in a secret hiding place. She hid them in one of the bedposts at the end of the bed.

Nottoway Plantation Master Bedroom

 

Such a beautiful tester bed!

Nottoway Plantation Master Bedroom with Tester Bed

 

Nottoway Plantation Master Bedroom with Tester Bed

 

Beautiful antiques all throughout the home!

Armoire in Master Bedroom in Nottoway Plantation

 

This was a sweet little room. I’m guessing it belonged to one of the children.

Nottoway Plantation Bedroom

 

 

Nottoway Plantation in White Castle Louisiana

 

We didn’t get to tour all of the bedrooms but we did tour this one. (Picture below from Nottaway Plantation website.)

Nottoway Plantation Bedroom

 

Another full-tester bed.

Full Tester Bed in Nottoway Plantation

 

Look at the carved details on the headboard!

Nottoway Plantation in White Castle Louisiana

 

We didn’t get to tour the next two bedrooms pictured below but I thought you might enjoy seeing them.

Nottoway Plantation Bedroom

 

Photos above and below are from the Nottoway Plantation website.

Nottoway Plantation Pink Bedroom

 

I snapped this photo as we walked out on the back porch/gallery area. You can see the “boy’s wing” from here.

Nottoway Plantation in White Castle Louisiana 40

 

Another view of the boy’s wing from the Nottoway Plantation site. It was pretty common back then to have the boys sleep in a different part of the home. Glad that custom died. I can’t imagine having my son sleeping in a different building or wing at night…I’d never get any sleep for worrying.

Boy's Wing at Nottoway Plantation

 

At one point in the tour, we stepped out onto one of the upper porches or galleries. The windows go right down to the floor so you can walk right through them.

Nottoway Plantation in White Castle Louisiana

 

This was our view from the upper gallery along the front of Nottoway. Nottoway Plantation originally sat on 400 acres of highland and 620 acres of swampland. It was completely surrounded by sugarcane fields and oak trees when the Randolph’s lived here. See that body of water? Shockingly, that’s the Mississippi River flowing only 200 feet away from the front door of Nottoway Plantation.

Nottoway Plantation in White Castle Louisiana

 

I wonder how far away it was from the river before the Levee was built. I also wonder how many times it has spilled over the levee. Looks like it wouldn’t take much to do that, doesn’t it? I remember on one of our tours, probably the one we took of San Franciso Plantation, they mentioned that the course of the river had been changed at some point in history, bringing it much closer to many of the plantation homes. I find that fascinating…that a whole river can be rerouted!

Nottoway Plantation in White Castle Louisiana

 

We’ll end our tour with a couple of photos from the Nottoway Plantation website showing Nottoway at night.

Nottoway Plantation Lit Up At Night

 

Hope you enjoyed the tour. If you’re ever in the area, stop by and see it in person. It’s open all throughout the year and is available for special events. I noticed at their website, they have a “murder mystery dinner theater” on Halloween night. Bet that will be a lot of fun!

Nottoway Plantation at Night

 

Enjoy touring historic plantation homes in Louisiana? You’ll find many more linked here: Plantation Homes in Louisiana

Tour Oak Alley here: Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley

 

Tour Laura Plantation, A Creole Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana here: Laura Plantation

Laura Plantation, Vacherie Louisiana 2




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Comments

  1. Regality (aka The Quing) says:

    Lovely, lovely home. Thank you for the tour.

    And I so agree with you about painting over gorgeous old wood. Even if I don’t really like the piece, when I see beautiful wood like that “desecrated”, it just makes me grind my royal teeth.

    • Yep, I don’t have any problem doing it if it’s in such bad shape, it’s lost its value anyway or isn’t a quality wood piece. I just can’t paint over an antique if it can be saved and returned to its original beauty.

  2. Peggy Thal says:

    Such a gorgeous home! Loved the tour. Wonderful home design and a beautiful collection of furnature. Thanks for the tour.

    • Thanks, Peggy! So glad these homes are open for tours and allow photos. Only 2 of the home we toured, both in Natchez, no longer allow pictures because one Natchez was robbed after a show about it aired on This Old House…or at least that’s what the guide told us.

  3. I absolutely love your house tours and table settings and, well, everything that you post!! Thanks for the work you put into this!
    Also, when I toured homes in New Orleans years ago, our tour guide told us that the reason the “windows” were so tall and low to the floor was that the people were taxed on the number of doors that they had. In order to avoid paying the door tax, they simply made their windows work as doors.

    • Thanks so much, Patti! Isn’t that amazing about the windows! So glad they don’t tax every outside door today that way. Funny they found a way to get around that law and build their homes with the access to the outside as they needed and wanted. 🙂 I was just thinking, with the way houses caught fire back then, it was probably helpful for escaping if you had to, as well.

  4. Hi Susan,
    whow, this is amazing. Its a castle and not a small one. I love all the details. I am very impressed that all looks like newly made although its antique. A wonderful home. Thank you for the tour.
    Best greetings, Johanna

    • I know, I wondered if any of the pieces had been restored or if they had just been that well taken care of over the years. Thanks, Johanna! You toured Laura Plantation on a visit once, right? I think I’m remember that correctly.
      🙂

      • Yes, you remember right, Susan. In comparison to this plantation the Laura Plantation is really simple and small. May be they are from different times. I wonder if they are restored. May be Nottoway Plantastion had just all the time a really good housekeeper and took care for the furniture. The fabrics might from newer age. Usually they fade out with the times. But nevertheless its an impressing home and a bright sign for American History.

  5. Linda Page says:

    This is one of my favorite plantations to tour. Your pictures are great. You may remember that the last owner, a man from Australia who bought Nottaway 20+ years ago, had just recently died when we were there. He had made many improvements and additions to the out buildings, adding guest cottages and spa facilities. Some of the rooms you showed are available to stay in but are a little pricey. Maybe one day I will splurge and stay in one. That would be fun. Great tour.

    • Oh, I had forgotten that. I remember how sad everyone was that day in the gift shop from the news. He really did do a lot of wonderful things to preserve Nottoway! When I saw the last two rooms online at their website (the ones I added to the end of the post) I figured those must be some of the rooms they told us were currently occupied and couldn’t be shown…remember when she told us that. I’m so glad they had those pics at their site since we didn’t get to see those rooms on the tour.

  6. What a coincidence – we are motorcycling today to this plantation – and Oak Alley, too. Loved seeing your pictures and information ahead of time. Thanks!

    • I’m jealous, Kim! 🙂 Have fun! We ate in both restaurants…the one at Nottoway and at Oak Alley when we were there and both were good. I know you will have a wonderful day and I bet the weather is perfect for touring this time of year!

  7. Susan, My husband and I hosted the wedding rehearsal dinner for our son and his bride at Nottaway. It was spectacular!!!!! It couldn’t have been held in a better place, such rich history and beautifully furnished. The trees on the property are such a site to see as you have experienced. I would encourage anyone who is vacationing in the area to take to time to see Nottaway.

  8. WHAT a WAY to LIVE!!! *sigh* franki

  9. Now this house Susan, would definitely fit us all!! There are some beautiful pieces of furniture, especially the desk in the *gentleman’s* room. Yes those curtains remind me of Carol Burnett in a skit of GWTW and she had he rods across her shoulders!! 🙂
    Coming out of that dark room into the beautiful dining room, was akin to coming out of dark into daylight, such a contrast.
    I did like the ballroom, it looked ethereal. The windows were different, but would seem strange climbing in there!
    As for showing ones ankles, they are sometimes the only thing covered up with some of the youth of today!! 🙂
    As this is open every day, I presume the house was turned over to a trust?
    Thank you Susan, you have satisfied my looky-loo addiction for today.

  10. crumpety cottage says:

    Susan! 53,000 square feet?! My goodness. It would take you 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other, looking for your children. Lol. That’s incredible.

    A very beautiful place, and all the girly bedrooms are so lovely. I fear the boys may have been jipped a bit, there. 🙁 But the amount of land you mentioned actually seems insufficient to provide for a household of that size. I’ve always been under the impression plantation homes typically owned thousands of acres, rather than hundreds. At any rate, it is lovely and I’d love to visit it someday. Thanks for the beautiful tour.

  11. crumpety cottage says:

    P.S. I’d hate to be in charge of dusting and cleaning that place. 😉

  12. Wow Susan,
    64 rooms and 365 openings! 365!
    Actually, I like to clean windows, but… 365?!
    On the other side… living in that house and cleaning and dusting it, would make going to the gym superfluous, I guess… Not bad! LOL
    How long did the tour take? Some hours? Some days? 🙂
    Love every room, especially that dining room and that music room, but what a great Dad Mr. Randolph must have been to want that ballroom all white “to show off the natural beauty of his seven daughters!” So thoughtful and sweet of him! 🙂
    Susan, have you noticed they had their home photographed and framed hanging in that “green room”, Mr. Randolph’s office? In that picture you can see the (very) little differences between the home’s exterior back then and today.
    ~Hugs to you~
    Cecilia

    • Really…can’t imagine cleaning that many windows. You would have to do one a day and then start over at the end of the year. The tour took about an hour…we didn’t get to the see the whole home, just a few rooms. lol I bet he just wanted to make sure they all got married off! 🙂 I did see that. I wonder how old that picture is. I bet when they restored it, they tried to keep it the same as it was back then.

  13. What an amazing tour – thanks, Susan – I always so enjoy these tours.

    I need to get down there and visit the deep south again – and see these lovely incredible homes of history one day soon.

  14. bobbi duncan says:

    Thanks for the tour, Susan. That home is huge! The green velvet dress reminded me of Gone with the Wind.You must have had a blast getting to tour all those lovely plantations. I am a mirror person and the ones in this house were really something. This past weekend we went to a terrific furniture consignment shop near us that we just love because a lot of wealthy people drop off some amazing high-end items in great condition that sell for very reasonable prices. Well, we really lucked out because they just got in three Friedman Bros. gilded mirrors (two are gilded and black) from some estate that we jumped on at an absolute steal. I just love them. They also had a nice french dresser, in good shape, but I don’t like the color so will have to refinish that one. I just love finding things that work for our spaces at tremendous savings.

  15. Gorgeous photos!!! Is this no longer a B & B? I remember staying there back in the 1990s back in the gentleman’s quarters.

    • I think it could be called a B & B, too. It says on their website that it’s a “resort.” It’s basically a B & B that’s large enough to host all kind of special events like weddings and such.

  16. What a lovely home thanks for posting so many wonderful pictures of it for us. Making the Natchez Pilgrimage is on my list of things to do.
    Just curious – you wrote ‘tester beds’ but I thought it was ‘teester’?
    Perhaps if you had11 children and plenty of people to look after them you would be okay with the boys having their own rooms, separate from the rest of the house, to rough-house and make all the noise they wanted.

  17. Holy cow! Now that’s a house. And did you check out that crown molding? To die for. I completely agree with you on this trend of painting every thing with chalk paint. Enough already.

    • Crown molding was amazing! Looking at the molding and the doors is always one of my favorite parts on these tours…they are just so beautiful in the older homes!

  18. thanks so very much for the tour!!!! I have a question please. In the dining room on the left side in the photo there is some sort of chest on a stand. Do you happen to know what that was used for? thanks so very much!!

  19. Terri Montaldo says:

    A few more facts. All of Nottoway’s windows that are floor to ceiling, you can walk out of. Yes, 365 openings, one for every day of the year. As the house was being built, any cypress or pine found to have a knot, the workers would chant knot away, hence the name Nottoway. There is a system of bells in the house so that servants, by the sound of the bells, could tell what room to go to. The kitchen, built away from the house, burnt down three times. Servants were told to whistle while bringing food from the kitchen to the house, so the Randolphs would know that they were not eating it! All the door handles are German silver or painted porcelain. The architect of the house is the same architect who designed The White House. The “boys wing” or garçonie was for young adult men after the age of 14, as not to disturb the women of the house with their comings and goings.

  20. Kim Taylor says:

    I visited Nottoway in 1983 when I was a teenager. The floors were painted white back then. I think they have always been like that. It was a private residence back then with a little old lady living in part of it. I remember the docent saying the green velvet drapes were a nod to Gone With the Wind because Nottoway was considered for filming as Scarlett’s Atlanta house. It’s on my bucket list to go back and perhaps stay overnight.

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