Monday, April 20, 2009

The River Road

In the summer of 2005 we took a family vacation along the River Road. The River Road is found on both sides of the Mississippi River just outside of New Orleans. On the banks of the Mississippi some of the most beautiful antebellum houses and grounds can be seen and visited. The above picture is of Oak Alley Plantation (1839). The alley leading to the house from the banks of the river is lined with several 300 year old, live oaks. A breathtaking view! Just think of the planning and vision this feat took. I had my first mint julep on Oak Alley's veranda. Delicious!

This is Destrehan Plantation (1787). It is the oldest plantation we visited. Scenes from Interview With the Vampire were filmed here. On one portion of the tour we were shown how the house's insulation, bousillage was made. Bousillage is a mixture of clay and Spanish moss or grass that is used as a plaster to fill in the spaces between structural framing. It is very effective as insulation and was first used by the Cajuns.

A slave cabin

I think my favorite antebellum house on the trip had to be Houmas House (1840). We had a delicious lunch on the grounds and I had my second (and I think more delicious than Oak Alley's) mint julep. The gardens of Houmas House were gorgeous! The rooms of the house were opulently appointed. It is no wonder that the movie Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, starring Betty Davis was filmed there. We visited the room she stayed in while filming.

On the grounds of Houmas House there was a structure set aside from the main house called a Garconniere. This was used as a "bachelor pad" of sorts for male heirs who were not yet old enough to marry but wanted to be "on their own". I very much liked the idea of a garconniere (can you still get one built?) and found this one very interesting as well as beautiful.

I have watched the movie Gone With the Wind and I think that is where my fascination with antebellum houses started. I think they are beautiful and impressive with their many large columns and spacious verandas. Their architecture has influenced the design of my own home.

San Francisco (1856)

Nottoway (1857)

Evergreen (1790)

Tradewinds (2007)