|Oak Alley Plantation|
Next up we came to St. Joseph Plantation. Sugarcane is still grown on this 1,000 acre spread and it is still a working operation. At only $15 per person, it was also one of the least expensive homes to see. Built in 1830, in addition to the 12,000 square foot main house which is filled with period antiques, you can visit numerous other buildings on the grounds such as restored slave quarters, workers quarters, barns, chicken coops and the original detached kitchen. The plantation was sold in the 1840's to a wealthy doctor who had a magnificent garden planted which contained flowers and plants from around the world, including bananas and coffee. The garden was so extensive it required 30 full-time slaves to maintain it. Now that is one heck of a garden!
|St. Joseph Plantation|
The family who now owns it purchased the property at a sheriff's auction in the early 1870's when the previous owners couldn't pay the back taxes due to the financial catastrophe they suffered after slavery was abolished. Many of the former slaves stayed to work on the plantation as paid workers for the new owners. The main home ceased to be lived in by the mid-1960's and was closed with the antique furniture still inside in the 1970's. As the home deteriorated though, over 100 close and extended family members formed an association in 2003 and began restoring the home to its former glory.
After the civil war ended slavery, like at St. Joseph, many of the freed slaves continued to live in their quarters on the plantation and worked the sugarcane fields as hired hands. Some were still living in the cabins in 1895 when a cypress lumber mill paid to have their own workers live in the quarters. Workers continued to live in these cabins until 1977 when most of the buildings were in such bad condition they were torn down. Today, only 4 remain.
|The Laura Plantation|
The Laura continued to raise sugarcane until 1981 when it was purchased by an investment group who wanted to tear down the buildings, clear the sugarcane and build a bridge over the Mississippi River on the property. After the purchase though, they found there is an active seismic fault right below the site and they could not get permits to build their bridge. Somebody did not do their due diligence! The property went into receivership and was abandoned until the St. James Sugar Company bought it in 1992. In 1993, the main house was purchased by the Laura Plantation Company, a private enterprise, for the purpose of restoring the home and opening it to the public. In August, 2004, an electrical fire burned over 80% of the home. It took 3 years to restore, but it was once again opened for tours in 2007.
After a full morning and most of the afternoon, we were looking forward to a late lunch/early supper before heading back to our hotel. The Mama-woman had heard good things about the B and C Seafood Market and Cajun Restaurant so we stopped there expecting our mouths and belly's to be nicely rewarded. The building itself was clean, but nothing to be impressed by. That doesn't mean diddly-squat to me though as some of the best meals I've ever had have been in little off-the-beaten-path, run-down shacks. It did have plenty of character with several stuffed alligators dressed up as a chef (named "Chef Don't Ask") and a sexy girl alligator in a wig placed inside the ladies bathroom, a television showing a gator hunting show, and several musical instruments, including a guitar, which anyone can pick up and start playing.
We placed our order with the friendly waitress and waited. And waited. We walked around looking at all of the stuff on the walls as we waited some more. And then we waited some more. Finally, our food came and I'm sad to report, it certainly did not meet our expectations. It was OK, but the portions were certainly not overly generous and the taste was actually kind of bland. And according to the prices we were charged, they're pretty proud of their food too. Maybe the fact we were there long after lunch time and before supper time had something to do with the quality. It certainly wasn't the worst food we've ever had, but I doubt we'll be stopping by there again.
|Alligator chef in the B&C Cajun Restaurant|
|Little touches inside the restaurant like this painted |
electrical outlet added doses of humor