This is my second installment on New Orleans. It’s later than I had hoped, but that’s life at the moment. Today, I am focusing on my visit to Oak Alley Plantation. I grew up in the South, yet I’ve never been to a plantation before. I’ve always wanted to visit one. First, a few facts:
- Oak Alley was a sugarcane plantation. It is known for it’s 1/4 mile alley of 300year old oak trees.
- The house was built in the 1830’s. Yes, the house is much younger than the oaks!
- The Mississippi was visible from the second floor, until the most recent update of the levee in front of the house.
- There were at one point, 50+ slaves at Oak Alley. Don’t quote me on that number.
- Oak Alley has been under the ownership of two families, the Romans and the Stewarts. Now, it is taken care of by a non-profit.
Now, let’s get a look at this antebellum beauty.
Looking at those photos, one would think the house is huge. It’s not. At least not by today’s standards. There’s maybe 4-6 rooms on each of the two floors. Those rooms are not that big.
- The inside of the house is divided by a large staircase.
- The porch is wide and wraps around the entire house.
- Those beautiful windows are actually doors. In the summer, they would be opened to allow the breeze to cool the house. The larger rooms have between 4 and 6 doors.
A few photos of the inside. Sorry, no flash was aloud.
The views surrounding the house are amazing.
As I mentioned, Oak Alley was a sugar plantation. There are still acres of sugarcane surrounding the house. Dotting the yard are these huge cast iron bowls, called Sugar Kettles.
These kettles were used in turning sugarcane into molasses and/or crystallized sugar. I’m not going to go into how they were used, but here is a place with great explanations and photos.
Oak Alley was a plantation, so there were slaves. The slave quarters on site are reconstructions, based on records. Unlike most slave quarters they were very close to the Big House. In 1836, there were 56 slaves onsite. There are 6 houses that represent slave quarters.
- Slave quarters were based on the slaves status. The more important (valuable) the slave the better the housing. Field hands were considered the lowest class of slave. They were given the worst accommodations and worked the hardest. Not sure how accurate these houses are.
- There is a list of names, carved into one house, of the slaves known to have worked at Oak Alley.
- There is a display of shackles and equipment used by the slaves.
And no visit to the 1830s is complete without an outhouse!
- Oak Alley has never flooded. The area is higher above sea level than it’s neighbor New Orleans. Even though the Mississippi River is literally, just in front of the house, it does not flood. We actually saw the top of a ship go by as we walked by the oak trees. We couldn’t see the ship, just the top.
- I was pleased to see some sort of area dedicated to the slaves and their live on the plantation. Even if it was mainly just their names on a wall. No display can accurately describe what it was like to be a slave.
- The plantation is intake with the sugarcane fields and the lands around it. It is beautiful. It’s also a bed and breakfast. There is a pub on site that sells moonshine shots…just sayin’.
- Just for fun, a size comparison of the oak tree roots to a 6 ft 4 man. Don’t tell my hubby he’s online 🙂
I really enjoyed the plantation, and I learned a lot.
Reading: I am reading an indie book on my Kindle. Not finished yet. I keep falling asleep. That’s no reflection of the writer, I’m just exhausted from working retail 6 days a week 😦
writing: back burner
Editing: I hope to sneak a little in today.
Submissions: I am working on releasing a short story on Wattpad. The problem is I don’t have a cover. It’s a free short story, so the cover may be the title and not much else. Still thinking on that.
How’s your week going?