I wrote a post a few weeks back on in a wood-cut of Ashland Belle Helene Plantation which hangs in the garçonnière at The Cabin Restaurant. There are several wood-cuts of local plantations hanging on the wall. The one in the picture above is a wood-cut of Houmas House Plantation, which is about 3 minutes away from The Cabin in Burnside, Louisiana. Allen B. Crochet, a local artist, carved the wood-cuts a few years back. Because there aren’t any labels on the artwork, it is hard for out-of-area visitors to identify which plantations they are. I profiled the Belle Helene woodcut already, and today I will give you a little bit of history on Houmas House!
Houmas House/Burnside Plantation has somewhat unclear origins. It may have been in 1774, when Maurice Conway and Alexandre Antoine Latil purchased several thousand acres of land from the Houmas Indians. Latil may have erected a simple Spanish Colonial house shortly after the purchase. Other records suggest that a house, possibly built by William Donaldson and John W. Scott was on the property by 1809. Either way, a four-room brick house dating to the colonial era remains as the rear portion of the current main house. The building now houses Latil’s Landing Restaurant.
The main house, pictured in the wood-cut above, was constructed in 1840 by John Smith Preston and his wife, the daughter of General Wade Hampton, a famous Revolutionary War hero and U.S. Congressman and Senator from South Carolina. The house was built in the Greek Revival style. Two garçonnières sit on either side of the house. Today, one of them houses the Turtle Bar (one of my favorite places to grab a sazerac!).
The property was purchased by John Burnside, a.k.a. the “Sugar Prince of Louisiana”, in 1857 for a whopping $1 million. He renamed the plantation after himself and ended up owning nearly 800 slaves, making it the largest plantation in Louisiana at the time.
After the death of Burnside in 1881, the property passed through several hands until 1940, when Dr. George Crozat of New Orleans purchased the plantation and undertook a comprehensive restoration. The restoration was completed at the time of Crozat’s death in 1966. Houmas House was left to relatives who opened it to the public in 1970. Kevin Kelly, the current owner, purchased the plantation in 2004 at exhaustion and undertook another comprehensive restoration. Houmas House is a major player in the tourism industry today, drawing thousands upon thousands of visitors from all over the world for tours, weddings, receptions, and parties.