You can’t visit Louisiana without a trip to iconic Oak Alley. It’s the plantation home that so frequently appears in magazines and almost any advertisement for Louisiana tourism. You may also recognize it from having appeared in a number of movies, music videos and other productions.
It’s this view! Oak Alley’s famous “alley of oaks” captures your heart and draws you toward the beautiful, Greek Revival home perfectly framed at the end.
The oaks on either side of the alley were planted in the early 18th century, but the home wasn’t built until much later in 1836 by Jacques Telesphore Roman as a gift for his bride, Celina. Roman purchased the land from his brother-in-law, Valcour Aime and it’s thought Roman’s father-in-law, Joseph Lilie, was probably the architect and who designed the home.
(Picture above and below from Wikipedia)
If you saw the movie, Interview With a Vampire, you may remember this scene with Brad Pitt. (Picture from Oak Alley Website)
Oak Alley is located in Vacherie, Louisiana and is a protected National Historic Landmark. There are 28 Doric columns surrounding all four sides of the home. This exactly corresponds to the number of oak trees down the length of the alley.
(Picture above from Wikipedia)
If you could see underneath the stucco, you would find the home is actually constructed of bricks that were made on site. The walls are 16 inches thick and the stucco on the outside was painted to look like marble. Notice how the ceiling above the upper porch is painted “haint blue.”
I was surprised to read about an extensive renovation the home saw in 1920 that relocated the main staircase to the central hall and removed black and white marble floors that had been in the entry. Maybe they were in terrible condition or something. Also, during that renovation, a lot of dormers were removed, leaving just three on each side of the home. It makes me wonder how many there were in the beginning.
When you enter the front door of Oak Alley, you’re inside the large entrance hall that runs from the front to the back of the home on both floors. The docents were all dressed in antebellum dress for the tours.
A beautiful chandelier in the parlor…you can see the pretty ceiling medallion in the mirror.
In many of the old homes we toured, the doors were built from cypress wood which was plentiful back then. Then they were faux painted to look like oak or another kind of wood.
Remember the punkah (large swinging fan) we saw in the dining room when we toured Rosedown Plantation? Oak Alley has one, too. You may remember they were used to fan away pesky flies during meals. You can read more about punkahs in that previous post here: Tour the Dining Room in Rosedown Plantation
Some of the beautiful silver and china used at Oak Alley.
I always notice stair molding and the molding in Oak Alley was really pretty. You may wonder about some of the views/angles of the pictures I took. Photography is always a challenge in the homes because there are so many people on the tours. So I just did the best I could.
A little close-up…
While upstairs, we walked out onto the upper porch. This is the door leading out to the porch. As you step out onto the porch…
…this is your view. The oaks lining the drive leading to Oak Alley are Virginia Live Oaks and they are over 300 years old! I read that Live Oaks have a life-span of around 600 years.
Just think, in 300 or so years, there will be folks walking down this long alley, looking at old pictures and wishing they could have seen this in person. We are so lucky to be living today when we can see this in person now.
There are so many beautiful antiques throughout Oak Alley.
Notice the beautiful cradle!
Beautiful ceiling medallion in this bedroom. I love how the antiques look against the blue paint.
I’ve always just called this style bed a canopy bed, but in all the homes we toured, the guides referred to these as full tester beds. As we tour other homes in future posts, we’ll see half-tester beds, too.
Many of the old plantation homes have the small day beds like the one shown here. Usually the mattresses on the main beds were filled with Spanish moss and during the day those were taken out and aired and beaten to reshape them. Then the beds were made. If ladies needed a nap during the day, they could nap on the small day beds.
Beautiful twin, canopy, four-poster beds…loved these!
A closer view…
Other side of the room…
So many beautiful beds in this house! Look at the dress on the fainting couch. You can almost envision a lady resting there, can’t you?
Hope you enjoyed this tour of Oak Alley. If you are ever in Louisiana, you need to go see it for yourself. Pictures do not do it justice!