Anthony Tassin, Cajun Cottage, Center for Louisiana Studies, Creole Style Plantation, Hurricane Betsy, Kismet Plantation, Laura Plantation, Mississippi River, Natchez, New Orleans, Persac's Map, St. John the Baptist Parish
My last blog post featured a portion of Anthony Tassin’s (a distant relation of mine) personal recollection of Kismet Plantation. Mr. Tassin had quite a few recollections of the old Creole-style plantation, so I have broken them up into sections to share with you. Here’s another snapshot of Kismet:
Kismet is on the right bank of the Mississippi River, about one-half mile below the St. John the Baptist Church. The location of the church can be seen on Persac’s map, called Norman’s chart of the Mississippi River from Natchez to New Orleans in 1858.
The house is generally believed to have been built about 1840. However, since it is similar in structure to the main house of Laura Plantation, the date of construction may have been earlier.
Prior to Hurricane Betsy (September 1965), the house had two dormer windows. Damaged during the hurricane, they were not replaced when the roof was repaired. (Alas!) The dormer windows admitted sufficient light [to] illumine the attic. The attic is floored throughout with rough planks and has a high cathedral-type ceiling. The attic is accessed by means of a heavy-wood ladder in the bathroom. In typical Cajun cottages, it is typical to have the ladder leading into the attic outside the house. Hence, this inclines me to believe the bathroom was a later addition.
Originally, the kitchen was an entirely separate structure, about 20′ x 30′ in size. The exterior was made of vertical weatherboards on the sides but horizontal on the far end. The kitchen had a corrugated galvanized tin roof with a small chimney to accommodate the wood stove. The interior was unfinished, as can be seen in the enclosed photo from Marcia Gaudet’s Tales from the Levee, p.44. (Lafayette: Center for Louisiana Studies, 1984). (Note – I could not find this picture anywhere in my files). The kitchen looked exactly that in the 1930-40 when I lived there. The wood stove, mounted on bricks — for insulation, no doubt — was the same. Black iron pots were still in use.
The kitchen was situated approximately 12′ to 15′ away from the house itself, a pattern frequent among homes of the period. It was an obvious precaution taken to avoid possible destruction of the house by fire.
The kitchen was accessed by a breezeway. Since the kitchen was about two feet lower than the house proper, there was a 2-step stepdown from the back porch to the breezeway.
Neither the breezeway nor the kitchen exists today. The breezeway was eliminated when the house was moved from its original location, at which time the kitchen was brought flush against the back porch.
The kitchen was removed entirely in the early 1950s, when the back porch as converted into a kitchen and breakfast room.
Check back in on Tuesday to see how Kismet survived the Great Flood of 1927…