Laura, A Creole Plantation

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Because “visit a plantation” was one of Amanda’s bucket list items, I asked her to share her thoughts about our tour of Laura, a Creole plantation located along Great River Road in Vacherie, about 35 miles southwest of New Orleans.

In Amanda’s words:

I picked this plantation tour because you hear so much about the big white houses with the long driveways, just like you would see on “Gone With the Wind.” Though they are beautiful and still on my “must see” list, I wanted to see what “Creole” looked like.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Creole colors on the plantation porch

You hear about their cooking (Yummy!), but since I’m a visual person I also wanted to see how they lived and what their culture was like.

And unlike the others, the brochure for Laura said that there were still slaves quarters standing. The others did not and I wanted the opportunity to see and experience as much as possible. I love this type of history. There is so much emotion and so much to learn from.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

The overseer’s cottage; this building was a few yards from the main house, and is larger than the slave cabins.

I was also drawn to the name. As we all know this was a time when women didn’t get to be involved with much unless it was raising the little ones and making sure the house was presentable to company. In this case the women in the family were in charge.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Wine cellar

This plantation was passed down from woman to woman for generations. That really appealed to me.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

The women of Laura Plantation

There are several aspects of this visit that really stuck out to me.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

View from the front porch

First was the view from the front porch. The trees were absolutely stunning. You can tell that they have been there for a very long time. I can imagine that the view from the porch would have been through the trees and right to the water. A lazy afternoon of socializing, sitting on the rocking chairs, and watching the ships go up and down the river.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

High chair, rocker and bench on the porch of Laura Plantation.

Then looking at the house you can tell from the multitude of color that they were a fun group. At least in my mind they were.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Our guide, Ethan, was knowledgeable and enthusiastic as he told us about the plantation.

The small size of the rooms and the house itself surprised me.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Where business was conducted. Note the nursery directly adjacent to this study.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Nursery in the main house

As a plantation I thought it would have been much bigger, but as our guide, Ethan, told us this house was not for entertaining it was business, so that also put it into perspective.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

View of the back of the plantation house.

Behind the house was the garden,

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

The kitchen garden, or potager

what used to be the kitchen,

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

The kitchen and water pump

and the small slave houses.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Slave cabins often housed two families

Of the three the slave houses stick in my mind the most. They were so very small; about the size of one of the bedrooms in the main house. I tear up to think that multiple families would have to cook, wash, sleep, and socialize in this very small room.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Fireplace and spinning wheel in one of the small rooms in the slave cabin.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

This room is one-quarter of the entire slave cabin, which would have housed two families. Note the “toilet” in the corner on the right.

The lack of air moving through the room, the heat, humidity and possible disease was just so overwhelming.

While standing outside the gate to one of the slave houses a man, about my age, was waiting for the rest of our group to go into the house so he could take a picture.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

This gentleman was tracing his roots, having learned that some of his family members had been enslaved at Laura Plantation.

I asked him where he was from and he said Florida. He was here doing some genealogy. He had found out that his ancestors had been slaves there. During his journey backwards he had found pictures and letters about his family.

Inside the slave cabin, looking out

Inside the slave cabin, looking out

We both looked around at all of the land around us and both teared up.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Two slave cabins at the back of the plantation property.

That was the best part of the day.

There was so much more to see and listen to. I wish we had more time to stay and learn more about the people that lived and worked there. It was so worth the trip….

According to the website:

The cabins were lived in until 1977. Descendants of slaves live near the Laura Plantation to this day.

Louisiana Creole is a blending of three different ethnic influences: the west European, west African, and includes a significant input from the Native American.

Creole Louisiana was a place where class, not race, determined social status, where rural life conformed to rigid disciplines, where human bondage created wealth, where adherence to the family business and tradition was paramount, where women ran businesses and owned property, where democratic ideals and individualism were held in contempt and where, until the 20th century, people spoke French and lived this way, separate from the dominant White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant American culture.

Accessibility

According to the website:

  • The grounds and first floor of the Big House are wheelchair and stroller accessible.
  • The Laura Plantation Store is also ADA compliant.

Clearly, the upper level is not accessible.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Although the wine cellar, gardens and most of the plantation grounds are wheelchair accessible, the main house and wrap-around porch is not.

Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, New Orleans, April 2015, ©2015 ImagesByRJM

Carriage house. (The gravel pathway would have been wheelchair-accessible, but the lip at the threshold of this structure would have made it difficult to navigate without assistance.)

All photographs: ©2015 ImagesByRJM

2 thoughts on “Laura, A Creole Plantation

  1. Fascinating tour. I looked for Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara in the photos but could not find either of them. I suspect their ghosts may be there somewhere. Amanda has her Mom’s way with words.

    • Thank you, Ted. I’ve shared your comments with Amanda. I’m sure she will be very pleased!

      And yes, the tour was wonderful. I’m so glad we got to experience this truly Southern experience.

      ~Jeri

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