Named for the gracious moss-covered oak trees adorning the lawn,
this mansion was built by an Irishman named Alexander Porter,
who had arrived penniless in the county at age of 16. He had to
leave Ireland when his father was executed as a rebel by the
English during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Alexander
eventually migrated to Louisiana where he built Oaklawn and rose
to become a United States senator.
|Gov. Mike talks with us about
This 1837 Greek Revival plantation manor
today is the residence of another political great, Louisiana's
former governor, Murphy J. (Mike) Foster. We got to meet
Governor Foster and he shared some of his favorite stories about
The house is a true castle with the
walls 20 inches thick. The home is furnished with European
antiques, lovely bird carvings by Houma native Don Gomex and an
extensive Audubon collection. I loved the huge book of sketches.
One piece the governor is particularly proud of is a huge
stature of a female pelican feeding her young. It is reminiscent
of the Louisiana state seal. When he first acquired the piece he
wanted to place it on the dining room table.
|Gov. Mike's prized Audubon Room
His wife was adamant in her refusal to have it there. Now you
need to realize how a pelican feeds its young. The adult bird
eats a fish and the regurgitates it back into the mouth of the
baby birds. The Governor said that his wife, Alice, stated "'I
will not have anything throwing up on the same table where I am
eating.' We moved the stature over here." He indicated the
birds' place of honor in his Audubon Room.
The lower floors are open for tours but the upper floor is the
governor and his wife's private residence.
Grevemberg House Museum
When I visited this 1851 Greek Revival style home, now
authentically restored, it was hard to image it serving as a
roller ring and a community center and once being so devastated
it was ready to be torn down.
Fortunately, some forward thinking citizens formed the St. Mary
Chapter/Louisiana Landmarks Society and saved it. As you drive
up, you view Four "Temple of the Winds" Corinthian columns that
grace the home. Within it's filled with fine antiques,
documented wallpapers and early artifacts from St. Mary Parish.
It's on the National Register of Historic Places.
Grevenberg do you find a casket in a home
Originally built in 1851 by Henry
Wilson, it was bought by Mrs. Francis Wyckoff Grevenberg in
1857. She remained in the house longer than any other owners
thus the name, Grevenberg House. After her death it passed
through a secession of owners before being sold to the city of
One of the most unique items on the tour
is a cast iron casket in the display room. It is believed to
have been that of Charles Grevenberg.
The art displayed in the home is priceless and varied. The
children's room is filled with antique toys and the floor
covering is an painted oilcloth depicting early Mother Goose
|Children's room at
The wallpaper is copied from the original, pieces of which were
printed on the back of newspapers. Since the newspapers were
dated it was easy to establish the period the original wallpaper
had been printed. These old homes are such a treasure trove of
art and antiques, you just have to take the tours to really
appreciate them all.
This former sugar cane plantation house was built by
William Alexander Shaffer in 1849. William came from South
Carolina. This plantation is different from most of the mansions
you see here. It has a strong French influence. It's a style of
home called Creole Acadian; characterized by a raised floor
plan, wide galleries, multiple chimneys and a second floor front
It is not open for tours as it is used as a lawyer's
The land was named Ardoyne, meaning
"Little Knoll" by the former land owners. John Bolton Shaffer,
one of William's sons bought land and built the home for his
wife. She was sickly and was traveling abroad for her health.
She requested a "cottage" and when she returned found this
replica of a Scottish castle complete with a gingerbread
decorated 75 foot tower.
The Shaffer family owned much of the
land and homes in the area at one time. Three plantations that
are still standing trace their roots to this family. Lee Shaffer
is the seventh generation to live in the home.
Built in 1894 This plantation had so
many family heirlooms stored in the attic that it is richly
furnished with pieces that belong to the family. One item was a
dusty old pair of boots. It seems the boots once belonged to an
ancestor who was in the Confederate Army. He had the reputation
of being a cranky sort. When the family moved the boots "he"
began making strange noises like boots walking. They moved the
boots back to the office and the noises stopped.
Built in 1835 by Thomas Ellis, this charming home is
located on Little Bayou Black. One of the homes' more dubious
claims to fame is that Thomas' daughter, Eliza Brooks Ellis,
married General Braxton Bragg in the home on June 7, 1849. At
that time and until the Civil War, it was part of a thriving
sugar cane plantation. Magnolia was used as a hospital for
Federal Troops during the Civil War.
This one was also owned by one of the Shaffer family
Captain John Jackson Shaffer, CSA, who bought the home in 1874.
Today, it's a private home still owned by Shaffer descendants.
Portions of the movie, "Twelve Years a Slave" was filmed
Originally indigo then cotton was grown
here but when William J. Minor and James Dinsmore purchased the
land in 1828, they switched to sugar cane which proved to be
much more profitable. They built a sugar mill on the adjourning
plot in 1846. By 1859, William Minor was on his way to the top.
There is a Shaffer connection here too. One of Lee Shaffer's
multi-great grandparents were the Minors. He had become sole
owner and built a one story Greek Revival house. His son,
Henry, added the second story and the architectural details.
The house today had 20 rooms flanked by two turrets.
The pink color came about when the original red brick house was
white washed. The bricks were made on site and were very soft
and needed much retouching. In the process, the red from the
bricks bled through to create the color you see today.
|The graceful lines and rich wood
floors of Southdown
The Minor family remained in the home until 1932 thus much of
the original furnishing remain. 233 slaves were the real workers
here. One of the cabins was salvaged and remains on the grounds
as part of the plantation tour.
The Terrebonne Historical & Cultural Society is housed in the
plantation and offers many other exhibits about life in
Terrebonne Parish including one colorful exhibit on Mardi Gras
Located near the historic Bayou Teche in Franklin,
Louisiana, the Fairfax House was once the manor house on a sugar
plantation. It was built in 1852 by John Barrett Murphy for his
daughter Martha, who was married to Thomas J. Foster Then it was
called Shady Retreat.
Today is a flourishing bed and breakfast known for their
lavish meals and comfortable rooms.
These are just a few of the architectural treasures you
will discover along the highways and byways of Acadiana.
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