Bordering a busy Nicholson Avenue at the advent of downtown Baton Rouge is a historic gem that simply must not be overlooked. There, peering from behind sweeping magnolia and oak trees, is what once functioned as a 900-acre plantation operation, and is currently open to tourists and school groups as BREC’s Magnolia Mound Plantation. Here visitors are treated to the experience of French Creole life from the colonial period and beyond.
The original big house, a colonial style home built in the pre-antebellum era in 1791, and then enlarged and renovated from 1801-1805, is still situated on modern day Magnolia Mound, a property that was built upon a hill of dirt to protect it from the flooding of rainwater and overflow of waterways near by. Guided tours, that are conducted every hour on the hour and last approximately 45 minutes, take visitors through the evolution of the property, the history of its inhabitants, as well as a journey through the history of the furniture and decorative arts contained within the big house that make this particular plantation such a unique destination.
You can practically feel the soul of the home as you enter the big house and learn of the Duplantier family, a blended family of eleven children, and also a devout Catholic family, headed by Constance and Armand Duplantier, all of whom lived there in the early 1800’s. Each member of the family, including the children, rose at 5 am each morning to begin household chores, and entertained themselves with board games and music in the evenings. Your imagination allows you to hear the giggles of the children and imagine the sweltering heat the family endured, especially in the summer months, as you learn that doors and windows were usually left open for ventilation.
The interior of the home reveals walls constructed with dried dirt and Spanish moss, and there are original cypress floors throughout. Also inside the home is an outstanding collection of art, furniture and decorative arts that are both remnants and reminisces that date from the early colonial period to early statehood. Antique enthusiasts will certainly enjoy: the history behind the Louisiana made furniture from the colonial period; French pieces that illustrate the ties of the sophisticated planter to his family in France; objects obtained from the eastern seaboard and the port of Orleans; as well as locally made textiles; and English and French ceramics. Every piece tells a story of the history of French Creole life and culture.
The tour primarily focuses on the big house and tales of how meals were prepared in the open hearth kitchen, but there is more to learn and see about the other structures on the property, which includes: the slave quarters, with stories of daily slave life; the Pigeonnier, a structure which is one of the few surviving of its kind in the state; the Privy, a rare three-seat outhouse from the mid-19th century; the LaGrange, which is a reproduction of a 19th century French Creole Barn; and the Hart house, which is currently available to the public for intimate gatherings, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information or to schedule a tour to this magnificent piece of history, you can visit the website at www.magnoliamound.com, or contact a volunteer at firstname.lastname@example.org. via email, or by phone at (225) 343-4955.