San Francisco Plantation, a more than 100-year-old estate built in the eccentric Steamboat Gothic style that sets it apart from the area’s other plantations. This registered National Historic Landmark, known as the most opulent plantation house in North America, is a Creole, open suite-style home in which each room is a time capsule of a different time. As one of several plantations near New Orleans, San Francisco Plantation is a must visit while you’re in The Big Easy.Tucked away in a grove of stunning live oaks just outside of Garyville, you’ll find the
San Francisco Plantation traces its history back to 1827, when land speculator and free man of color Elisée Rillieux purchased the acreage that would become the plantation. Just three years later, Rillieux sold the land to Edmond Bozonier Marmillion and Eugène Lartigue for $100,000, earning a $50,000 (about $1.3 million today) profit.
Although the plantation eventually became successful in the 1850’s, Marmillion’s life was struck with tragedy. In 1843, his wife and six of his eight children succumbed to tuberculosis within a 20-day period. Within a decade, he hired accomplished artists to hand paint ceilings and door panels, creating a distinctive house for his surviving sons that inspired novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes to write Steamboat Gothic.
The home’s vibrant blue exterior walls and wrap-around porch set behind intricate columns provide it plenty of curb appeal, yet it’s the fine details that really set it apart. Step inside on a tour led by a guide dressed in period clothing and you’ll pass through rooms adorned with the kind of vintage furniture you may have seen as a guest in the 19th century.
The home itself is a fascinating combination of the old and new, with the floor plan and chimney pieces reflecting designs out of date in Louisiana by the 1830’s, while the exterior was more contemporary for the time it was built.
In addition to learning about the families that called San Francisco Plantation home, you’ll also see the stories of the slaves that worked the lands here. An on-site museum offers an in-depth look at what a slave’s life was like on the plantation.
Don’t miss out on the chance to explore one of the most beautiful plantations in Louisiana. Located less than 40 miles west of New Orleans, San Francisco Plantation is an idyllic destination for a southern Louisiana day trip.