Antebellum History: The Story of Houmas House and Oak Alley Plantation
Those who are interested in the history of New Orleans plantations have no better starting point than the stories of Houmas House and Oak Alley Plantation. These storied homes provide unmatched insight into the architecture and lifestyle of mid-1800s Louisiana.
Sometimes called “Burnside Plantation” after its location, or simply referred to as “The Houmas,” this 10-acre spread draws its name from the native Houma people who once resided in the New Orleans area. The plantation features a main house completed in 1840 along with eight other structures. Houmas House has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.
By 1803, Houmas House was already a working sugar plantation when it was purchased by Louisiana representative Daniel Clark. Notably, Clark suffered a leg wound on the property in an 1807 dual with governor William C. Claiborne.
Although the plantation went on to change hands several times, the current main house was constructed by John Smith and Caroline Preston. This breathtaking Greek Revival structure is distinguished by its hipped roof and majestic Doric columns.
The plantation has frequently been used as a filming location. Movies that feature Houmas House famously include the 1964 Bette Davis thriller Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, as well as episodes of All My Children, The Bachelor, and Top Chef.
Oak Alley Plantation
The first thing tourists notice when they visit Oak Alley Plantation is the double row of towering oak trees, planted in the 18th century to create a canopy known in French as an “allée.” This unique landscape gives this National Historic Landmark its name.
The land on the banks of the Mississippi was originally purchased in 1830 to establish a sugarcane plantation. The mansion, which was completed in 1839, was also the location where prized Centennial pecan trees were developed by an enslaved gardener. The iconic Greek Revival home is distinguished by 28 Doric columns, one for each tree in the allée. The grounds also include formal gardens, a blacksmith shop, and a cemetery.
The estate remained in the original family until 1925, when it was purchased by Andrew and Josephine Stewart. The plantation was inherited by the Oak Alley Foundation in 1972, after the Stewarts died, and became open to the public.
You can truly delve into the rich and vibrant history of New Orleans when you purchase a tour from Joieful. Sign up today for fun, exciting guided options that include tours of Oak Alley and Houmas House, as well as neighborhood tours and riverboat tours. Call us at 504-207-4555 or contact one of our local experts online to purchase your experience today.