Oak Alley Plantation : A Walk Through the Past

by Pam on August 22, 2013

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oakalleyplantation

Thanks to Oak Alley Plantation for complementary passes to tour their property and learn about their amazing history.

Known as “The Grand Dame of the River Road” Oak Alley Plantation combines a fascinating story of love, hope and despair.   Jaques Roman dreamed of having a massive sugar plantation, acquiring wealth and displaying his prestige for all to see.  He began his conquests with the acquisition of Oak Alley.  Standing beneath the line of massive live oaks, he realized this was the perfect place to build a mansion the likes of which had not been seen before in this area.  Construction was begun in January 1836 and after three years of labor intensive building, all done by his slaves,  Jaques was able to move his family into their new home.   The years were not kind to the family as they faced misfortunate after misfortunate, finally watching their beloved home be sold at auction.   The house was eventually purchased in 1925 by Andrew Stewart, who restored the property to its original grandeur. The Stewarts were childless and donated their property to be preserved as a historic landmark that anyone can visit today.  Oak Alley’s scenic vista has been featured in movies, such as Interview with the Vampire, commercials, and might have been the inspiration for the scene of Twelve Oaks in Gone with the Wind.

OakAlleySlaveryExhibit

I have always enjoyed visiting historic properties to learn more about the past and had wanted to visit the Louisiana plantations since childhood.  It took me a while to make it, but Oak Alley was worth the wait.  We started our tour by visiting their newly constructed “Slavery at Oak Alley” exhibit.  It’s a horrifying account of the brutality of slavery detailed through artifacts, historical records from the plantation and reconstructed slaver cabins.  The exhibit ends with a list of all the names of the slaves etched on the wall as a respectful tribute to their lives.

Oak Alley Plantation

Our tour continued through the grounds of the plantation consisting of a Civil War Encampment, showing the life of a typical Civil War officer. The tent has been refurnished with period furniture and their friendly Civil War historian is available to answer any questions.  After chatting for a few minutes, we wandered over to the former carriage house that had been transformed into a garage during later years.  The men in the family gazed longingly at the two fully restored antique vehicles while I complained that the tires looked too thin to travel long distances.

OakAlleyPlantation

Oak Alley Plantation Sitting Room

Our next stop was for a guided tour of the mansion.  While we waited for our tour to begin we talked with one of the docents and petted the plantation cat, “Alley.”  Because it was a rainy day and we had arrived early, our tour consisted of just our family so it was highly personalized.  The docent took the time to answer all our questions, allowed me to snap pictures where ever I wanted, and explained the history of the house and the original occupants, the Romans, in detail.  He didn’t even mind when I peeked around corners and asked, “What’s in this or that room?” (Usually it was a closet or bathroom that had been added when the house was updated with the last owners.) While much of the plantation’s original flooring and furnishings had been stolen or destroyed during the years the plantation sat empty, the Roman family has donated some family heirlooms and the plantation has been restored with period era furnishings.

Oak Alley Plantation

One of the Bedrooms at Oak Alley

Oak Alley Plantation is located in Vacherie, Louisiana,  a thirty minute drive outside the city of New Orleans and is open to the public 9 AM to 5 PM daily during the months of March through October  and closing a half hour earlier November-February.

 

 

Pam is a former teacher turned work from home mom. When she's not caring for her kids or cats, she can be found whipping up tasty recipes, trying her hand at the newest techie gadgets or reading. She loves to travel whenever she has a chance and spends way too much time on the computer sharing her experiences.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Daisy August 22, 2013 at 8:31 am

I would love to go on this tour. I haven’t visited many tourist sites in the south and I want to learn more about the history.

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Cynthia L. August 22, 2013 at 8:35 am

I would love to own this house! I am in love with old houses and furniture! Just stunning!

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Matthew's Mom August 22, 2013 at 8:38 am

This looks like an interesting property to go back through history and learn about other perspectives from the past.

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Susan August 22, 2013 at 8:43 am

wow this looks like an amazing place to visit, so classic and historical. I am sure my history loving daughter would love to visit.

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Kristyn August 22, 2013 at 9:37 am

wow what an awesome place to visit!

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Jennifer August 22, 2013 at 10:36 am

That’s an impressive place! Looks like it’s straight from a movie. Must have been very cool to visit!

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Terry Macri August 22, 2013 at 10:37 am

Oh my gosh … that place is beautiful. I love seeing how they used to live… and some of them lived better than we do today.

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Growing Up Madison August 22, 2013 at 10:46 am

This looks beautiful. Now that is the house I want when I win the lottery. :) Thanks for sharing those amazing photos. You got some really great shots.

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Sarah Bailey August 22, 2013 at 10:59 am

WOW this place looks amazing I would love to take sometime out and walk around it I have to say :) x

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Oak Alley Staff August 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

Well written! Thanks for sharing!

– Staff of Oak Alley Foundation

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Grandma Bonnie August 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm

What an amazing tour. I have always been fascinated by this period in history. I love looking at all the old furnishings. The Civil War Encampment must have been quite interesting. Your photos make me want to take the tour myself.

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Gayle P August 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Gorgeous! I need to see more of the states!

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Ashley August 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

How pretty!! I seriously need to take a trip to Louisiana. This plantation reminds me of some of the ones I looked at for my wedding venue :)

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Danielle @ We Have It All August 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Gosh I would love to go to Louisiana and especially New Orleans… and this plantation would be so interesting to tour. Thanks for sharing with us, I love looking at the photos!

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Lisa b August 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm

What a great place for a history lesson. I love plantation houses. they look so beautiful.

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Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell August 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Those plantation homes are incredible! You were lucky to get a solo tour so you could really get all your questions answered. Awesome! I love hearing all those historical tidbits.

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Pam August 22, 2013 at 5:49 pm

That is just beautiful. I love touring these type of historical homes and grounds. I love the sitting room. Would love to visit some day if I am in that area.

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Stefani August 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm

I would love to take this tour. I wasn’t so interested in history when I was younger, but I love taking tours like this to see stuff in person.

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Mel Cole August 22, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Looks like a nice spot for a huge mansion. Love the classic setting.

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Tough Cookie Mommy August 22, 2013 at 8:05 pm

This is amazing. I can’t believe that they preserved the house and the grounds for all these years. Looking at the photos looks like walking into the past so I can imagine how it felt to see everything in real life.

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Becca August 22, 2013 at 8:18 pm

How beautiful! We have a war park around here that has a similar set up.

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Amanda @ Adorkablii August 22, 2013 at 8:33 pm

WOW! That looks amazing! I haven’t done anything like this before. I would sure love to though!

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Ashley - Embracing Beauty August 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm

That is gorgeous!!! I would love to visit there.

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Stormy Gonzalez August 23, 2013 at 12:55 am

I’d love to go tour places like this. Thanks for posting, now I feel like I have been there, almost. Great place to pin on a map to see someday!

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Meagan August 23, 2013 at 1:10 am

I would love to go on such a tour! Beautiful!

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Cindy Brooks August 23, 2013 at 3:47 am

My sisters and I visited here a few years ago. It was stunning and so interesting. We also went to Laura Plantation down the road. It is much smaller, but has an interesting story as it was inherited by Laura and run by women.

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Pam August 23, 2013 at 9:00 am

We went to Laura Plantation too. I have been teasing my family all week about how the plantation went to the smartest child and that included four generations of women. :)

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Melanie a/k/a CrazyMom August 23, 2013 at 6:09 am

WOW.. what an amazing tour, I would love to take it one day, totally adding this to my Bucket list. Thanks for your insights and great pictures… looks like you guys had a great trip

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JulieK August 23, 2013 at 11:17 am

I just LOVE how they lived back then. I mean, I would prefer today’s medicine and indoor plumbing but… the houses are just amazing!

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