One of Louisiana’s most well-known plantations sits just 600 feet north of the Mississippi River in a town called Vacherie, nestled in Creole Louisiana. Here, the vast lands and stately home hold a fascinating chapter in the history of the American South. Take a stroll back in time through the homestead’s grounds, magnificent house, and slaves’ quarters at the Laura Plantation, home to what Lonely Planet calls the “Best History Tour in the United States.”
Acquired in 1804 by French naval veteran of the American Revolution, Guillaume Duparc, the Laura Plantation sits atop high ground located on prime real estate. Duparc situated his grand manor right in the middle of the grounds, which was once 12,000 acres at its largest. It wasn’t until 1892 that the plantation was renamed “Laura Plantation,” (previously the I’habitation Duparc) after Duparc's great grandchild, Laura Locoul.
Explore the towering pecan orchard and you’ll come upon the plantation’s stately manor house, which was built in 1804. Its structure is raised high above ground alongside cascading tree branches and rests on glazed brick columns and walls. At Duparc's death in 1808, the residence consisted of 10 sizable buildings, including quarters for 17 slaves, a barn, warehouses, and a small, rudimentary sugar mill. Today, the plantation contains 12 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the dowager house that was built in 1829.
Slavery was a large part of the plantation’s business and life. By the onset of the Civil War, 186 workers were enslaved on the farm and even continued to live in the plantation’s quarters following the emancipation of slaves in Louisiana in 1866. Recently opened at the plantation, you’ll discover more about life as a slave at the new exhibit From the Big House to the Quarters: Slavery on Laura Plantation. The exhibit tells the stories of some of the people enslaved at Laura Plantation, such as Edouard, who fled the plantation to enlist in the Union Army and returned after the end of the Civil War.
As you wander through the manor’s various rooms and the grounds’ lush surroundings, you’ll catch a glimpse of life as Laura Locoul, whose eclectic family included French aristocrats, war heroes, shrewd businesswomen, slave-holders, and farm managers.
You’ll discover all of this and more during a guided tour of Laura Plantation. This is a must-see in southern Louisiana for history enthusiasts and people of all ages. Plan your visit today.