Things to do near New Orleans – Visit St. Joseph Plantation
For a look inside one of the lesser known antebellum homes along the Mississippi River Road, consider visiting St. Joseph Plantation. This working sugar plantation has an interesting history and, though the manor house is not as colorful or grandiose as the neighboring plantations Laura and Oak Alley, it is worth a visit.
Built in the early 19th century for the Scioneaux family, the Creole-style raised cottage stands on the former Priestley Plantation, birthplace of American architect Henry Hobson Richardson, who designed several notable buildings including Sever Hall at Harvard University. Subsequent owners of the plantation include Alexis Ferry, son-in-law of Valcour Aimé, previous owner of what is now Oak Alley Plantation; and Joseph Waguespack, who purchased the St. Joseph plantation in the decade following the Civil War and whose descendants still own and operate the family sugar business.
The simple yet attractive main house, resting on stout brick columns, features a crisp white exterior with dark green trim, a long, wide gallery lined with Doric columns running the length of the façade, a back gallery with double staircase leading to the numerous outbuildings, and 27 sets of French doors with operable shutters.
The ground floor basement, enclosed during renovations made by the Ferry family, houses a collection of plantation memorabilia, including tokens used as currency in the plantation commissary.
Upstairs, the interior is decorated with antique furniture, including an elegant full-size four-poster bed,
a child’s canopied bed, and a baby’s bed draped with mosquito netting; gleaming cypress floors,
a square baby grand piano in the central hallway, several organs,
wooden box commodes which were constructed on the plantation,
and fireplaces with cypress mantels and ornate iron fire guards.
Displayed throughout the house are items and memorabilia pertaining to the history of the house and its inhabitants. These include baptismal gowns worn by children born on the plantation, pharmaceutical items and medical supplies, newspaper clippings, as well as photographs and paintings of past residents, including portraits of Valcour and Josephine Roman Aimé, André B Roman former Louisiana Governor, and Felicite Aime Fortier who owned the neighboring plantation ‘Felicity’.
One of the rooms has been decorated to reflect the historical customs during a period of mourning. Here you’ll see mourning dresses, mirrors draped with black cloth and a collection of beaded memorial wreaths known as immortelles.
The various outbuildings, connected by pathways and shaded by centuries-old live oak trees, include the former slave cabins, blacksmith and carpenter shops, barns, and a detached kitchen.