Acadian, Architecture, Ascension Parish, Bourbon, Cajun food, Convent, Creole food, Helvetia Plantation, Historic Preservation, Louisiana, Monroe Plantation, Plantations, River Road, The Cabin Restaurant, Welham Plantation
Continuing the trend started in last Friday’s blog post, this post will focus on another excellent example of adaptive reuse in Ascension Parish, Louisiana: The Cabin Restaurant. Founded in 1973, The Cabin has made a dedicated effort to preserve and serve traditional River Road cuisine in a historic setting. Below is a description of the restaurant written a few years back by its owner, Al Robert:
Through the efforts, ideas, love, sweat and patience of friends and family, you are able to enjoy a small sampling of Southern Louisiana history.
The Cabin Restaurant is unique in all the world. It began as one of the ten original slave dwellings of the Monroe Plantation. It is approximately 180 years old.
As one looks around upon entering, the Cabin gives off an aura of authenticity and realism. The original cypress roof is still visible from inside, and even the spider webs of 100 years ago are still clinging to the ceiling. The walls are papered with ancient newspaper fixed to the walls with a mixture of flour and water. This was the way the slaves insulated
the walls of the original slave dwelling. Hanging from practically every nook and cranny are antique farm implements and tools of years gone by. The original floor in the main cabin has been replaced with pine flooring from the commissary at the Welham Plantation in Convent.
Originally, there were two chimneys and four rooms in the main cabin. One of the chimneys has been rebuilt as it once stood. The extension to the rear of the main cabin is a two room slave dwelling from the Welham Plantation with its original roof and walls. It is approximately 140 years old. To the rear of this cabin are the restrooms. They are unique in their own way. They were constructed from a cypress water cistern that was used to store fresh rain water. The partitions in the restrooms are from the Old Crow Distillery in New Orleans, which was demolished in 1970.
The main dining room built onto the back of the Cabin was designed to resemble a garçonnière (the visiting bachelor’s quarters on a River Road plantation) opens via French doors to a brick courtyard surrounded by two more slave cabins, both from the Helvetia Plantation, and dominated by the Schoolhouse, the restored first Black Catholic School in Louisiana, built in 1865 by the sisters of the Sacred Heart.
Back in the main dining room, the roof is supported by four massive beams that were manufacturer’s rejects obtained for a bottle of Old Crow bourbon.
“Rock” the alligator was carved from a virgin cypress sinker log. This log was cut down approximately 100 to 120 years ago, on the banks of the Amite River. It had been laying on the river bed under mud since then. Pulled up on April 20, 1988 and sculpted by James Schexnaydre into the “Largest Alligator in the World!”
Our goal is to preserve some of the local farming history, serve meals typical of the River Road tradition, and make your visit a relaxed and memorable one.