What will the Bellefleur home look like in Season 3? Will it be Greek or Gothic Revival style, Victorian, or French Creole? Here is a sampling of each. Please note that French Creole architecture is mostly found in southeast Louisiana. The fictional town of Bon Temps is located in north central Louisiana.
The Plantations of St. Francisville
“English Plantation Land” / “Spanish West Florida”
West Feliciana Parish
It was built by Civil War Captain, Congressman and Judge Thomas Butler in 1824. Visitors to the house included such notables as Jefferson Davis, Henry Clay, Zachary Taylor, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Andrew Jackson slept here after the Battle of New Orleans on his way to Natchez.
Life, after the beginning of the Civil War, changed forever. The Union Army took over the Cottage and removed everything that could be found of value, from horses to furniture to jewelry to even the clothing of the children. The troops occupied the plantation and held the family prisoner.
After the troops left, the family abandoned the house and it was taken over and used as a hospital for Union soldiers with yellow fever. In the years that followed, this is probably what saved it from being destroyed by vandals. Many had died from the disease in the house and were buried on the grounds…. the fear that the sickness lingered kept many people away. Rumors of ghosts kept the house empty for many years to come, until it was restored in the 1920′s.
Cottage Plantation house, built with Doric columns
Courtesy of Lagniappe Tours, Foundation for Historical Louisiana
Daniel Turnbull (1799–1861) and his wife Martha (1809–1896) began construction on the main house at Rosedown, supposedly named for a play they saw on their honeymoon to the East Coast and Europe. The 1835 Federal-Greek revival style great house, complete with Grecian style wings, is at the head of a 660-foot long oak alley. Eighteen acres of ornamental pleasure gardens illustrate a combination of the Baroque style and the winding paths of the picturesque tradition.
Most of the flowering plants are the original ones transplanted in 1835, lovingly tended to for 175 years. The fragrance of the flowers, when in bloom, is said to travel for a mile or more.
View of Rosedown Plantation gardens
Photo from National Historic Landmarks collection
It’s an enormous Greek Revival temple set deep in the Feliciana Woods. It was originally constructed in 1834 by Daniel and Martha Turnbull.
Greenwood is not one of the more exciting plantation homes, but it does possess a surreal, majestic beauty. It is the stereotypical plantation home, complete with original antiques. It is believed to be haunted, and is listed on many paranormal websites. The movies “North and South, Book 1 & 2″ and “Louisiana” were filmed here.
Photo Credit: Kunio Owaki “North and South, Book 1″
Built in 1813, it was the forest home and employment of naturalist John James Audubon and his pupil Eliza Pirrie. Audubon’s stay at Oakley lasted only four months, but he painted 32 of his famous bird pictures here and developed a love for the beautiful West Feliciana Parish. Audubon returned at a later date to join his wife, then teaching there, and his son. He wrote, “Numerous pupils desired lessons in music, French and drawing…the dancing speculation fetched two thousand dollars; and with this capital and my wife’s savings I was now able to foresee a successful issue to my great ornithological work.” This work was later to become Audubon’s famous Birds of America.
This is a lovely, shaded area to spend a day; some of Audubon’s original artwork is on display, and the entire area is a bird paradise with a multitude of birdhouses. The nature trails on the property are clear, shaded pathways, and there are picnic tables under the large magnolia trees for a scenic lunch.
Catalpa Plantation is one of numerous late Victorian cottages found across Louisiana, significant for the beautiful gardens that surround it. The oak trees lining the grounds were planted in 1814, and Catalpa’s oak alley is thought to be the only one in Louisiana which has an elliptical shape. Primarily a cotton plantation in the antebellum period, Catalpa’s grounds were devastated during the Civil War, and the plantation house burned. Mr. Fort, the owner, died during the Civil War. In 1885, his son, William J. Fort, rebuilt Catalpa and it is this house that still stands.
Catalpa Plantation House, surrounded by large oak trees
Courtesy of Lagniappe Tours, Foundation for Historical Louisiana
Begun in the 1790′s by members of the same family that still occupies it today, Butler Greenwood Plantation exemplifies the early cultural influences of this unique corner of Louisiana. The earliest settlers in the Feliciana parishes, like the family at Butler Greenwood, were Anglo-Saxons and came down from the East Coast soon after the American Revolution. From the wilderness they carved great plantations on grants of land offered by the Spanish crown, for this area was not part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase from France, instead remaining with Spanish West Florida until 1810. The area continues to exhibit strong evidence of English traditions and culture.
THE MYRTLES, a.k.a “The Dark Lady”
Called “America’s Most Haunted House”, it was built in 1794 by General David Bradford, and was called Laurel Grove at the time. General Bradford lived there alone for several years, until being pardoned for his role in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1799.
When I visited several years ago, I took the haunted tour. My favorite story was of the ladies of the house taking in an injured Confederate soldier during the Civil War, (“It’s one of OUR boys!”) nursing him back to health, and then hanging him when they found out he had run away from the regiment. His ghost supposedly haunts the main house.
There are many such stories that you can hear on the tour of this home, including the Creole mistress Chloe who poisoned the family in revenge, a grand piano that plays itself, a bizarre portrait, and a spooky mirror. I personally can certify it as the creepiest place I have ever visited! (See the hauntedamericatours.com site below for photos of various phenomenon.)
Courtesy of Lagniappe Tours, Foundation for Historical Louisiana Is this Chloe?
French-Creole Plantation Country
Sometime in the early 1700′s, a settler claimed land from an original royal grant for his dwelling and defined its entrance with an alley of live oaks in two rows leading to the river. Native to the area, they thrived and by 1722, when the early Capuchin Fathers arrived at St. Jacques de Cabahanoce to establish the settlement of St. James Parish, the young trees had already attained a stature which hinted at the magnificence that was to be theirs.
Interview with a Vampire
The film featured Oak Alley as Louis’ home place. Some graveyard scenes and the loading dock scenes were filmed here as well in October 1993.
Other filming here includes: Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu” Music Video and “B’Day” CD – June 2006, “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” with Bette Davis, “Days of Our Lives” – August 1984, “Ghost Hunters” – August 2008, “Primary Colors” with John Travolta -1998, “The Long Hot Summer” – August 1985, and “Midnight Bayou” (based on the Nora Roberts bestseller) – October 2008.
St. Charles Parish
Jean Noël Destrehan descended from a long line of noble French families and purchased the property that became Destrehan Plantation from his father-in-law’s estate in 1787. During Jean Noël’s lifetime, he was a cornerstone of Louisiana History. Jean Noël helped shape the economic situation of the South when he and his brother-in-law, Etienne de Bore, perfected the granulation of sugar. Jean Noël was active in the political arena all his life and was well respected for his fairness and intelligence. He and his wife Céleste had 14 children.
Within the walls of Destrehan Plantation, there is a climate controlled room displaying an original document signed by Thomas Jefferson. The document dated 1804, assigns four men, one of whom is Jean Noël Destrehan, to the Orleans Territorial Council. This document is considered one of the most important in Louisiana history and is known as the “Jefferson Document.”
One precedent established from this Council that continues today is the sub-dividing of Louisiana into parishes as opposed to counties, as in the rest of the nation.
Destrehan Plantation is an excellent example of the French Creole architectural style
Photograph from the National Historic Landmarks collection
I hope that I have given you a small glimpse into the many beautiful, historic homes of Louisiana. So, what type of home do you think the Bellefleurs will have? My guess would be late Victorian style, similar to Catalpa or Butler-Greenwood, which is prevalent around the area of “Bon Temps.”
Thanks for reading!
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