Recently, we paid a visit to some of Louisiana’s plantation homes along the Mississippi River near New Orleans, and as always, we learned a few things about life in early America that wasn’t taught in our elementary school classrooms.
The American South—particularly the great plantations—is something that’s held our fascination for quite some time. Every time we visit one, we learn more about our country’s history and come away with a deeper understanding about the beginnings of our country. We’re fascinated with the lifestyle of these wealthy landowners, but sobered by the human exploitation that made them possible.
Getting to the Destrehan Plantation is an easy drive from New Orleans along I-10 westward. Turn south along Highway 310 to Destrehan.
Today we’re talking about the Destrehan Plantation. It’s located along the Mississippi River, near the town of, well, Destrehan, about 30 minutes west of New Orleans along I-10.
The Destrehan Plantation has a long and complicated history, but is best known for one of its owners, Jean-Noël Destrehan (1754-1823). Jean-Noël was a key figure in helping the Louisiana Territory transition from French Rule under Napoleon to the United States—and ultimately statehood—after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. You can read more about his political involvement at the Destrehan Plantation site’s Family and Politics page.
By the way, did you know that Louisiana uses a system of Parishes instead of counties? A Parish is usually a smaller area than a county and it’s just what it sounds like, an area served by a particular church. And in this case, a Catholic church. Jean-Noël insisted that Louisiana be organized in this manner when it was brought into the United States in order to help preserve some of the original culture of the Creole people.
In addition, Jean-Noël transitioned his plantation from a failing indigo crop to a thriving sugar cane business, with the help of his brother-in-law, Étienne de Boré, who perfected a method of granulating sugar, making it a profitable crop.
Most of these plantation houses use a guided tour to show you their house, and usually let you wander about the grounds on your own. Visiting a plantation like Destrehan is an educational and emotional experience all in one, and one in which we recommend for anyone passing through the area.
Now please, enjoy some of our images of our visit: