As part of our challenge to ‘Take 12 Trips’ in 2016, we’re taking at least one trip each month – anything from a local day out to an international trip.
A fun part of the Take 12 Trips challenge is the opportunity to explore somewhere new in your own backyard. (After all, most of us can’t afford to jet off to Paris or Rome once a month to fulfill a monthly trip challenge!) And that’s exactly what we did in January, with a day trip with Ryan’s parents in our current backyard — western Louisiana.
Our day trip began, as all good trips do, with a good meal: lunch at Satterfield’s Restaurant in New Roads, Louisiana.
The restaurant had a lovely view of False River, although it was just a little too cool to sit out on the deck. The menu included lots of seafood options, which Ryan was very happy about. But the highlight of our lunch was the beautiful views in the upstairs dining room, which had high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides.
We also enjoyed seeing this guy in the center of the room, all decked out for Mardi Gras:
From there we headed to St. Francisville to take in a little Louisiana history! Our destination was Rosedown Plantation, one of the most intact, documented examples of a domestic plantation complex in the South. Ryan and I love visiting plantations when we come to Louisiana — we’ve also visited and loved Nottoway Plantation and Oak Alley Plantation — and we were excited to check out this one that’s a little off the beaten path.
First, a little history: Rosedown was established in 1835 by Daniel and Martha Barrow Turnbull, and remained in the family until 1956. It took six months, to build at a cost of $13,109.20. At its height, the plantation encompassed 3,455 acres, and employed 250 of Daniel Turnbull’s 444 slaves. Rosedown Plantation was purchased in 2000 by the Louisiana Office of State Parks, and declared a National Historic Landmark in 2005.
We started our visit by exploring the gardens surrounding the house. The 18 acres of ornamental pleasure gardens were Martha Turnbull’s pride and joy, and they’ve since been restored using the garden diary she kept from 1836 until 1895. In it she described every aspect of her gardens, from the layout to the specific plants she used, including one of the earliest collections of camellias in the Deep South and many plants imported from the Orient, like cryptomeria, azaleas and crape myrtles.
And of course, everywhere we walked was overhung by gorgeous, dripping Spanish moss.
The first building we visited was the small doctor’s office, located just in front of the main house.
The building was small but housed all the necessary items for keeping the family and their many children healthy and well.
The property features eight white marble Italian sculptures on brick pedestals along the allée leading up to the house. The Turnbulls had purchased twelve statues in Italy in 1851, but they were removed by a later owner. The eight statues now on the property are close approximations of the originals, and they add a romantic, old world feel to the gardens.
After spending some time wandering the gardens, we came upon the house — a quintessential Southern plantation. It reminded me a lot of Tara Plantation in Gone With the Wind.
The 8,000 square foot Federal-Greek revival style great house sits at the head of a 660-foot long oak allée.
We arrived just in time for the last tour of the house. Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable, and shared many details of the home’s restoration, how it had been passed down through the family, and its representation of the antebellum South.
One detail I particularly enjoyed was how Daniel Turnbull included numerous built-in closets in the home — extremely unusual for the time. (Most homes featured large armoires, and even the rich rarely had enough clothing to justify closets anyway!) The minimalist in me enjoyed the sight of the mostly-empty closet, hung sparingly with a few items of clothing.
After touring the house, we returned to the grounds. The last member of the Turnbull family to live at Rosedown was Nina Turnbull, and during her declining years she actually lived in the small house below, which came to be known as “Miss Nina’s Wing.” The rooms were small but gracious and featured high ceilings and lovely windows looking out over the oak trees and a pond with a small fountain.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Rosedown Plantation, and would recommend it to anyone looking to learn a little more about the antebellum South!
Rosedown Plantation, now owned by the State of Louisiana, is located at 12501 La. Hwy. 10 in West Feliciana Parish. It is open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily; closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Guided tours of the main house are provided on the hour from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for senior citizens; $4 for students; and free for children age 5 and under.
Did you take a trip in January? Where did you go?