A Plantation Tour: Nottaway Plantation

On one our road trips to down to Louisiana this summer, Emily and I, along with other ladies from our family reunion, attended a luncheon at Nottaway Plantation in White Castle, Louisiana. As you can probably surmise, the city is named after this historical plantation.

Every detail made for a beautiful afternoon, as you can well imagine. Nottaway is famed for being the South’s largest Antebellum Plantation and opulent is just one word that could aptly describe it.

The simple, but elegant food served at our luncheon was wonderful, but the delightful stories shared by the matriarch of our family was a special treat none of us will forget.

As the waitresses arrived with our dessert, there was a collective swoon heard around the room.  I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything as simple and as richly delicious as Berries Anglaise.

I promised myself that before the summer berries are gone, I’d find a recipe and make some for the “boys” to enjoy as well. I hereby promise to share with you all when I do because everyone needs a little Anglaise in their lives.

After the luncheon, we waited in the gift shop for the next Plantation tour to begin. But not until the sky finished “pouring down rain”.

If you are from the south, or Louisiana for that matter, then you know all to well how afternoon thunderstorms work.  The raindrops are humongous and the rain is hard. And just as quickly as it started, the rain stops and you’re left with a thickness in the air that you can “cut with a butter knife”.

The attendants in the gift shop were kind enough to let us use umbrellas they had. It was hard to tell if it was still drizzling or just a wetness hanging in the air like Spanish Moss clings to the live oak trees.

I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity of catching Emily with an umbrella on a stunning staircase at the front of the White Castle. Too sweet.

Throughout the Greek-Italian inspired home, and from the moment I stepped onto the porch, I was captivated with the moldings and could feel I was stepping back in time. This ornate entrance was just a hint of what was to come.

And that lantern style, which I just adore, is very still common in Southern architecture, and can be found on many porches, in a smaller scale. I’m going to have one of those again someday!

When you see a vignette like this, it is easy to imagine the many ladies who have sipped tea or some other sundry beverage on this grand porch while they absentmindedly watched the boat traffic on the Mississippi. Ah, the life…

As we stepped inside the entryway, we were introduced to our very theatrical and quite entertaining tour guide.  He dramatically retold the history of the house and explained important details about the architecture, design and owners.

He was really a treat, even if, on several occasions, we had to bite our tongues to keep the laughter locked quietly inside. 😉

Here, he is telling us all about the Randolf family, who built the plantation from 1857-1859. They spared no expense to build the mansion at a cost of $80,000. You know that was an exorbitant amount of money in pre-Civil War dollars.

The first room on the tour was the Gentleman’s Study. The dark green walls and drapery reminded me of the color of magnolia leaves, but made it a little difficult to photograph without a flash. I was able to aptly capture this lovely vignette of the desk.

I unsuccessfully tried to photograph a globe on a side board as you exit the room. It turned out too blurry to show even with a disclaimer.  I wish it was even worthy of sharing because it demonstrates how timeless it is to decorate with globes and simple accessories.

Here’s a photo of the room from the Nottaway website. This photograph appears to be using a flash and has blown out the beautiful green wall color that was more like the photo above.

We crossed the hallway to see, by far, the most spectacular room in the plantation. It is a stunning White Ballroom. The frieze molding alone was just breathtaking.

The room is beautifully divided by two Corinthian columns.

This side of the room features the rounded rotunda seen from the front profile of the “White Castle”.

Our guide perched himself here to tell us all about how the oval of the room was created by using cypress wood that had to be curved over a six year period.

The detailed plaster frieze work was made using a combination of mud, clay, horsehair and Spanish Moss. What an amazing work of art they are! Makes me want to add more molding all over my house.  Do you think I could figure out a way to make moldings out of dust, dirt and dog hair. Ha!

After the gorgeous ballroom, the dining room, while still a beautiful room, seemed to a pale in comparison.
I think the guide said it wasn’t originally gold, but had been painted to highlight the personal design Mrs. Randolf requested of her favorite flower, the camellia, in the frieze molding along the ceiling.
Next, we headed upstairs to see what is now a music room and then out onto the second floor porch.

Access to the second floor balcony was through this “window-door” that hung from the floor to the ceiling.  You’ll notice the sash is decidedly low.  You had to duck to go outside.  The guide said people were shorter back then, even I had to duck. 😉

Ah, but look at the shutters, gorgeous. Can I tell you how much I miss Southern architecture?

Over the levee you could get a good view of the mighty Mississippi. I had a hard time taking my eyes off iron work on the railing to even appreciate the view.

Of course, I posed so that you could see part of the beautiful rotunda. Note the droopy, previously curled hair. Yep, that’s Louisiana humidity in action.

The last stop, before the museum, was the master bedroom.  The innovative room featured a working bathroom with a flushing toilet and hot and cold running water. This was quite a feat for the times, especially since it was upstairs.

It really is sad that it took a visit from Missouri to finally see this grand plantation.  I lived only a short drive across the river for many, many years.  Not to mention, I drove past the plantation on numerous occasions when I traveled home from LSU.

Once the tour had ended I walked back around to photograph the front of the house, facing the river.

Here are some views of the side of the house. Remarkably these are not additions.  This area was originally guest houses and the kitchen.

Nottaway is now a full functioning resort.  You can actually stay in several of the mansion rooms or hotel rooms converted from the cottages and the carriage house.

The dinning areas are superb as well. I seem to recall having dinner here once at The Mansion Restaurant and our luncheon on this day was excellent.

If you go to Baton Rouge, having finally stopped to see this beauty, I’d say it’s worth the trip across the river.

I only featured the highlights of the home, and of course, you’ll want to sample some famous Louisiana Cuisine while your there. I recommend it. 😉

I hope you enjoyed a little break from my usual fair, traveling back in time to this lovely antebellum home. I wanted to leave you with one last photograph of a truly divine beauty. Only God can create a tree as grand and glorious as the Live Oak. Oh, how I miss seeing these.

I’ve been absent this week on the blog. I’ve been enjoying the last bit of summer, while still trying to work on two projects. 

I hope to share them here soon. They are proving to be more time consuming than I initially thought or maybe, just maybe, working on two projects at one time isn’t such a good idea. Ha!

If you aren’t able to travel to Louisiana to see this beauty, I hope you are at least inspired to see the sites in your area.  Are there especially historic or beautiful places near you that you have left to discover?  If so, don’t wait and let me know when you do!

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  • Angela Paris
    August 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    I saw your thumbnail on Mop it Up Monday and had to check it out! I saw a recent documentary on old Southern Plantations and this was one of them. It&#39;s just so beautiful. I&#39;m a little jealous you got a chance to see it in person :)<br />Thanks for sharing!<br />Ang, Juggling Act Mama

  • got2havefaith
    August 5, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    I have been here! It&#39;s so beautiful. The stories of that era are so interesting too. They were so superstitious! Love the old South style.

  • Dana
    August 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Wonderful post about a beautiful old home! Love the Louisiana plantation homes and one can only imagine the stories and mysteries that they hold!

  • Connie
    August 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Fabulous tour. Reminds me of Natchez, Miss.<br />The large homes of this era are a marvel indeed.

  • Jennelise
    August 8, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    How wonderful!! I love the white rooms – just gorgeous! Thankyou so much for sharing your trip! It looks like it was very special!<br />Jennelise

  • Fairhope Supply Co.
    August 10, 2013 at 2:59 am

    I&#39;m only a few hours east of New Orleans and like to go over and tour the plantation homes, but I&#39;ve never seen Nottaway. It is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I&#39;ll add it to my &quot;future&quot; list of places to visit.<br /><br />And yes, the humidity makes my hair crazy too!


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