Love this blog on everything Louisiana, Cajun, and Creole!
Antebellum, Bagatelle, Bagatelle: A Novel by Maurice Denuziere, beach, Bed and Breakfast, book, Burnside, Cajun, Civil War, Fourth of July, France, French, house moving, Louisiana, Maurice Denuziere, Plantation, plantation country, Plaquemine Point, reading, St. Francisville, The Cabin Restaurant, The Cajun Village Cottages, travel, vacation
This week, the week after the Fourth of July, is usually a pretty good week for a vacation. I always enjoy relaxing on vacation with a good book, whether I’m at the beach, in the mountains, or hiding out in a cozy bed and breakfast down here in Louisiana’s famous Plantation Country. One of my all time favorite books is Bagatelle: A Novel by Maurice Denuziere. The book is a historical fiction based in Louisiana around the St. Francisville area. Here’s the description from the jacket:
“Bagatelle by Maurice Denuziere, Translated from the French by June P. Wilson. Her name was Caroline. Her beauty was exceptional, her passions and ambitions unquenchable. Her resolve: to become mistress of the great southern plantation named Bagatelle, located not far from old New Orleans. His name was Clarence Dandridge. He was a bachelor, slender, handsome, a man of probity, the catch of Louisiana. He was also a man with a terrible secret that prevented him from loving and marrying any woman, a man who desired but could not possess the most desirable woman of the antebellum South, Caroline. So begins this international best seller written in the grand tradition of the great romantic southern novels. It is a story filled with danger and death, war and pestilence, a story of an unforgettable heroine, Caroline, and hero, Clarence, and their successful struggle to overcome personal and historical adversity.”
The book begins in the early 1800s and follows the happenings and people of Bagatelle Plantation. The original Bagatelle Plantation (see picture above) was located much closer to where The Cabin is in Burnside and moved in the 1970s to Plaquemine Point by barge, about 20 miles upriver from Burnside. Originally published in French in 1898, Denuziere’s novel has served as a way to get to know Louisiana for French citizens for the last 100+ years. In fact, when I was working at Bocage Plantation a few years ago, we had French guests who said as much and recommended the book to me.
So if you’re on vacation and looking for a good read and are interested in Louisiana history, I highly recommend Bagatelle. You won’t regret it!
American, Canal Street, Central Business District, flooding, French, French Quarter, Hurricane Katrina, Lake Ponchartrain, Levees, Louisiana, Mississippi River, New Orleans, NOLA, Plantation, Rampart Street, river bank, River Ridge, Sauve's Crevasse, Uptown
Although this focuses on the New Orleans area, it is a great read on the history of flooding, levees, and the Mississippi River in Louisiana in and around New Orleans. Hope y’all enjoy this and have a great Valentine’s Day!
I work in a building that sits right along the Mississippi River. Actually, part of it sits on top of the Mississippi. This means a lot of visitors ask me if we sustained any damage from Hurricane Katrina. The first time I heard this question I was more than a little surprised. But then I remembered just how little information about the actual causes of post-Katrina damage entered the minds of the general American (and foreign) public. So I’ll clear it up here – the Mississippi did not overflow before, during, or post-Katrina. In most areas of the city, being right along the River is the absolute best place to be, as it’s some of the highest ground available. The water level rarely rises high enough to be of any concern to the residents on the Mississippi’s banks. As a matter of fact, while it was a common worry in…
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American, Antiques, C & C Treasures, china, chromo lithographic decorations, David Haviland, France, French, French china, Haviland China, kaolin, Limoges, local, New York, porcelain, The Cajun Village
Amongst the many shops in The Cajun Village is C & C Treasures, which is specializes in local and regional antiques. They have many lovely pieces, none more so than the set of Haviland China in the picture above. The pieces are absolutely gorgeous, so I thought it was worth a share. Here’s a brief history of David Haviland, the founder of Haviland China in the early 1840s, from the company’s website for you. He was a key figure in the development and history of porcelain china in France and the United States, and his company is still a leader in that field today:
“David Haviland was an American businessman from New York dealing with porcelain in 1839. One day his shop door opened and a customer came in carrying a small package that was not only to change David Haviland’s life, but was to have a profound effect on the whole china industry and on the china ware in thousands of American homes. He could tell at once that it had come from France. But from what part of France? Examine it as he did, the cup had absolutely no mark of identification. Familiar with imported china as he was, the cup baffled him. He had not the slightest notion of its source.
“Once David Haviland had seen the cup there was nothing to do but go in search of it. He came finally to the city of Limoges, where he found the match of his cup. That this china was made in Limoges was no accident. In 1765, in the quaint nearby town of St. Yriex, kaolin had been found. Kaolin is a very pure white clay known from time immemorial in China, that had enabled Chinese artisans through the centuries to make their rare and marvelous pottery. With excitement, satisfaction, and high hopes David Haviland arranged to export his long sought French china so that he could supply it in New York.
“It was from Limoges, then, that David Haviland began importing this fine French china. Unfortunately, however, his pleasure in realizing an ambition was to be short lived. French manufacturers whose factories were of limited capacity were unwilling to make American shapes and decorations. So David Haviland, loath to accept defeat, decided upon a bold step. He resolved to move to France, build a factory in Limoges, and there make china in accordance with his own ideas.
“Throughout the next years the Haviland factories devoted themselves to the production of functional china that continued to have extraordinary success. At the same time experimental work went on with ever higher standards of artistry and craftsmanship as its goals. When in 1873, three Frenchmen originated an important new process of decorating china, David Haviland was quick to realize its merits and with the resources at his command he considerably improved it. He engaged famous artists of their day and encouraged them to use their talents to make this new decorating a memorable achievement. Other experiments were successful, too, and it was the Havilands who introduced chromo lithographic decorations on porcelain, a method afterwards followed by practically every china manufacturer in the world. In the meantime, David Haviland’s son Theodore followed in his father’s steps.
“Shortly after 1890 Theodore Haviland built one of the largest and best factories in Limoges, and introduced every new method in machinery decorating, and firing. Skilful French china makers were placed in charge of manufacturing, great ceramic artists headed the decorating departments. Inheriting his father’s genius and enterprise, Theodore Haviland rapidly became a leader in the making of fine china.”
The factories still operate today in France and the United States, producing top-notch porcelain and other items.
Al Robert, Architecture, Bousillage, brick between post, briquette-entre-poteaux, C & C Treasures, Cantrell House, construction, Convent, Creole, Creole Cottage, French, French doors, gallery, Greek Revival, hipped roof, Historic Preservation, Italianate, Louisiana, Louisiana Architecture: A Handbook on Styles, Mississippi River, Mississippi Valley, New France, Norman truss roof system, Office of Cultural Development, raised houses, River Road, South Louisiana, Spanish moss, The Cabin Restaurant, The Cajun Village, Vernacular
If you’ve followed this blog over the past year, I’m sure you have seen me write about the historical, vernacular architecture on display in both The Cajun Village and The Cabin Restaurant. Al Robert and his family have saved over 50 buildings in the last 40+ years. Most of them originated on the great River Road, in and around Convent, Louisiana. One such building is the Cantrell House, built in 1820, which now resides in The Cajun Village and is home to C & C Treasures.
The Cantrell House is unique among the other preserved and restored buildings around it, in that it was built using the old French Creole construction method of briquette entre poteaux, or “brick between post.” This method, and architectural style, flourished in New France, i.e. the Mississippi Valley, from first arrival of the French in early 18th century into the late 19th century (although it was mainly found in the vernacular architecture after 1830s, once the Greek Revival and Italianate styles took hold amongst the wealthy).
This is the basic description of the French Creole style according to the Louisiana Architecture: A Handbook on Styles produced by the state’s Historic Preservation division of the Office of Cultural Development:
“Creole cottages can be defined by the features they shared. Heavy braced timber frames and Norman truss roof systems formed the structure, with bricks or a confection of mud and Spanish moss called bousillage filling the space between the timbers. Houses were raised several feet off the ground on piers or blocks. The earliest Creole houses had broken pitch roofs. Later, straightly pitched gable or hipped roofs were preferred in both urban and rural areas. Despite the large attic space available beneath the high rooflines, the Creoles almost never utilized the attic for daily living. Most Creole houses had generous galleries set beneath their broad, spreading rooflines. Depending upon the weather, the gallery might serve as a sitting or dining room, with curtains hung from iron rods between the columns to provide shade. Thus, the Creoles decorated their galleries as outdoor rooms with chair rails, wainscoting, and cornices. Multiple French doors opened from the gallery into the rooms.
“The floor plans of Creole houses varied greatly in size. The plan always consisted of at least one range of rooms typically paralleled by a front gallery. This range included a nearly square salle (parlor), with at least one narrow chambre (bedroom) located next to it… The houses usually lacked hallways; instead, the rooms opened directly into each other.
“Decorative elements preferred by the Creoles included turned or chamfered gallery columns, exposed beaded ceiling beams, the use of a French diamond shaped parallelogram called a lozenge, and wraparound mantels. The latter centered upon boxed chimney flues located on interior walls.”
You’ll notice in the pictures that the Cantrell House displays many of the French Creole tradition: multiple French doors that open from the gallery into the main room, a range of rooms paralleling the gallery, hipped roof, wrap-around fireplace mantels, and briquette entre poteaux walls, although the interior walls have been removed to create more of an open floor plan. The briquette entre poteaux plan was sturdy, put together with local materials (cypress beams and bricks or bousillage), and a surprising good way to insulate a building, especially if a layer of plaster or stucco was applied on either side of the wall. Yet another fantastic example of vernacular Creole architecture, preserved and restored into a tribute to our wonderful architectural heritage in south Louisiana!