architects, Armstrong and Koch, Ashland Belle Helene, Bon Sejour Plantation, Cajun, contractor, Cypress, Frenchman, Garçonnière, George Swainey, Historic Preservation, Jacques Telesphore Roman III, live oaks, Louisiana, making brick, Mississippi River, New Orleans, oak alley, Oak Alley Foundation, Oak Alley Plantation, Plantation, renovation, Restoration, Slaves, The Cabin Restaurant, Vacherie, Valcour Aime
I am continuing the trend that I started a few weeks ago in identifying the plantation woodcuts that hang on the walls of the garçonnière of The Cabin Restaurant. Today’s post focuses on the woodcut of Oak Alley Plantation, also known as Bon Sejour Plantation.
Located in Vacherie, just down the Mississippi River from The Cabin (and on the west bank), the plantation was built by contractor George Swainey for Jacques Telesphore Roman III and his wife, Therese Celina Josephine Pilie on land purchased from Valcour Aime in 1836. The bricks used in construction were baked on site by slaves. The cypress boards and metalwork used in construction were also fabricated on site. Roman named the plantation Bon Sejour, meaning ‘Good Stay’, but the named was eventually changed to Oak Alley, due to the iconic alley of ancient live oaks that lead from the river to the plantation’s front door, which were planted by some unknown Frenchman or Cajun in the 1700s.
Celina and her son Henri sold the plantation at auction in 1866, and it changed several hands over the next 50 years, finally ending up in the hands of Andrew Stewart, Sr. and his wife, Josephine, in 1925. They began a series of renovations supervised by New Orleans architects Armstrong and Koch. After Mrs. Stewart died in 1972, the property was left to the non-profit Oak Alley Foundation.
Oak Alley is one of the most prominent Louisiana plantations today. The Oak Alley Foundation offers house tours and educational programs, while also operating a restaurant and inn on site. The house is magnificent, and the ancient oaks are even more impressive. It is a must see if you are traveling in the River Parishes area!