Laura: A Creole Plantation

By: Smith Schwartz |

About halfway between Lafayette and New Orleans alongside the Mississippi River lie a row of plantation homes. All of theses homes are no longer functioning as operation plantations, but they are now open as historical museums.

Laura Plantation is the most modest of the homes, as it was run by a Creole family. In Creole tradition, they used the home to operate their business, but spent most of their time living in New Orleans. The entry to the home is the bedroom. Most Americans found it offputting to enter a bedroom for a meeting, but the Creoles conducted their business this way to illustrate they had nothing to hide.

Though located just on the banks of the Mississippi, Laura has never flooded. Unfortunately a few years back, it suffered from an electrical fire. This clock had been charred and was taken to New Orleans to undergo extensive conservation. It had been repaired and was slated to return to Laura when Hurricane Katrina hit the region and the clock suffered severe water damage. You can see just how high the water had been by the rings around the trunk. The clock had been stored on the second floor of a warehouse.

Here, you can see some empty foundations of the home. This home used to be twice the size it is now. At some point, two brothers had a falling out, so the younger of the two claimed his birth right by removing the back half of the home and moving it elsewhere to have a little space from his family.

Of course, all of this splendor came with a human cost. This is an example of the slave’s quarters that were originally located 3 miles from the main house (and the only kitchen). Each family of 5 was only required to have a 16 x 16 square foot room to live in, and so that’s all they had (this home held two families). We were shocked to learn that these homes have been inhabited up until the 1970’s with no electricity or running water but just a small addition of a porch on the back. The fancy lifestyle that was enjoyed by a few for a short time has rippled great consequences for many in this troubling aspect of our nation’s history.