Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana

Oak Alley plantation is a beautiful antebellum mansion in Vacherie on the Mississippi river. It was a plantation built in 1837 and was originally established to grow sugar cane. 

Oak Alley Plantation

The Plantation

It's a place steeped in history and has been designated a National Historic Landmark for its stunning architecture and landscaped gardens. 

A distinguishing feature is its alley of oak trees, planted previously to the house being built. As you can see it frames the house beautifully. The garden is also renowned for the innovative way of growing pecan trees in the 1800's, a slave gardener known as Antoine spent many years crafting his knowledge and expertise to devise this. 

The Oak Alley Of Trees



We went on a guided tour of the house which is included in the 20 dollar admission price. I would certainly recommend this. The insight into life in a plantation was incredible.

The house was owned by the Romans, and was a gift from Jacques Roman to his wife Celina.  It was constructed primarily on slave labour and built as a sugar cane plantation. Sugar first became an attractive crop in the late 1700's and this area of Louisiana was known for its sugar producing plantations.

A valuable crop, sugar was also very arduous to produce, and the temperatures that slaves had to work in were very intense. 

When Jacques died in 1848 of tuberculosis, his wife's heavy spending nearly bankrupted the estate and her son Henri tried to turn things around however 18 years later it was sold, and a succession of owners could not afford the upkeep. The tour guide told us, the building was run down and was invaded with cattle until it was bought by the Stewarts in 1925. After renovation they were the last people to live in it. Josephine Stewart left the historic house and grounds to the Oak Alley Foundation when she died in 1972, which opened them to the public. 


Jacques Roman

The large fan above the table was moved by one of the slaves to keep the flies off the food



The clothes of the day

The three children in silhouette were three of the Roman's children who did not live until adulthood

Slavery At Oak Alley


The exhibition 'Slavery At Oak Alley", was interesting and thought provoking. 


Located in the historic grounds, six cabins were reconstructed to gain a real insight into the day-to-day lives of the slaves living at Oak Alley. There were different quarters for different slaves, and a sick house among the cabins shown. A house slave had to look presentable at all time due to the personal work they carried out and thus had different clothes to those working on the sugar cane. Displays of clothes, religion, work and punishments all helped understand the conditions of the slaves and the harsh realities of life in the 1800's for those who were not free men or women of colour.



This video really gives an insight into the life of a slave


Due to the personal nature of a house slave they had to look presentable at all times


Filmed At Oak Alley

Oak Alley Plantation has been used in numerous films and TV series. The most notable of these being Primary Colours starring John Travolta and Interview With A Vampire, starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. 

You can see some of the splendour of Oak Alley in this video we created for our new travel blog Fly Drive Explore, which also covers Dunleith, another historic building in Natchez.


Oak Alley is within an hour of New Orleans and Baton Rouge and if you are ever in the area I thoroughly recommend a visit to see the beauty of the mansion, the splendour of the gardens and gain an insight into slavery in the 1800's. Recommended.

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25 comments

  1. Really feel like I've learnt something new today, thanks! The oak alley of trees is unique.

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  2. This looks like something I would looooove! I think this part of American history is super important not to forget and visiting a house like this makes it all the more vivid I think.

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    1. I agree with you that we mustn't forget the struggle of black people in the US and the horrors of slavery.

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  3. I lovd going to placss like this and learning so much about things I didn't know.

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    1. It's a very interesting place. I really didn't know much about plantations and slavery and the free guided tour brings the history totally to life.

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  4. Oh wow this looks amazing. Like something out of Gone With the Wind X

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  5. Looks like a dream house! Would love to visit places like this x

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  6. This looks amazing. The oak valley of trees looks beautiful. I loved interview with a vampire!! X

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    1. It's such a beautifully shot film and the plantation looks stunning in the movie.

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  7. What a beautiful place! A great read

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  8. This looks amazing, I love history so would find this type of tour really fascinating!

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    1. The tour was really worth doing Kayleigh.

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  9. Oh wow, what a gorgeous place! I'd love to visit - thanks for sharing x

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  10. Looks like an amazing place to visit and I am pleased to see they do show both sides of the history by honouring the work of the slaves and the harsh reality of the life they led as well as displaying the beautiful house.

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    1. They do show both sides and the slavery exhibit is very sensitively done as well as being authentic and accurate.

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  11. This sounds like a really interesting place. I love the history behind it, especially the slave stories. Horrific but poignant

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  12. What a stunning building. I would love to learn what life was like on plantations and looks like they got the balance right. Love the costume!

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    1. The costume was so detailed and authentic.

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  13. It's such a shame such a beautiful place was built on such horror.

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    1. It is but it's important to remember this for future generations.

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  14. Must be wonderful to experience. There is sadness in some of the history though.

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  15. Such a beautiful building, but it is good that the tour also teaches that this was created by the slave trade.

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  16. This sounds like a really interesting place to visit. I love the pecan trees, they look great

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  17. What a fascinating place - my older children would be so interested, they have covered a lot about slavery in school. Kaz x

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