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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Oak Alley, Louisiana


Along the River of Riches lies a grand antebellum mansion named Oak Alley. 300 year old oak trees form an umbrella along the long front path that leads to the plantation home. The mansion was built for the Roman family by slave labour in 1839. Virtually destroyed during the civil war, it remained in ruins until the 1920s.
A recreation of one of many slave quarters that lined the road behind the mansion. Originally there appeared to be at least a dozen or more of these houses behind the mansion.
A rear view of the mansion. The large iron pot is a sugar kettle. The sugar cane was crushed using an animal powered 3 wheel roller. The juice was boiled in a a large kettle like the above kettle. The syrup was skimmed from the top to a smaller kettle where it was heated again and stirred with long wooden paddles (by slaves) until it began to granulate. At this stage it was cooled in wooden vats. If left, it would become molasses.
Oak Alley is even more stunning and picturesque in person. One of their slaves was a skilled gardener--Antoine---he grafted the first papershell pecan tree on the plantation from shoots from another plantation. 
The front hall of Oak Alley mansion. The original plantation family spent the modern equivalent of $4000 a week to have blocks of ice sent down from Canada for use in the dining room. How did it survive the trip?
The upstairs grieving room
The master suite. 
Guests to the mansion were given a plate of fresh pineapple as a welcome on their arrival. Though, if you found a whole pineapple at the foot of your bed, it meant that the you had over stayed your welcome and the pineapple was your parting gift--your cue to end your visit.
A list of all of Oak Alley slaves, where they were born and how much they were purchased for.  Viewing this list really made the whole slave trade horrifically real for me. Honestly, how could the plantation owners have lived this way for so long? Who wouldn't be filthy rich with over 150 human beings working as one's personal slaves. What gave me a true picture of the greed was knowing that once the South fell to the Union soldiers  (even though legally the slaves were free) slave traders quickly offered to buy all of the slaves and ship them to Cuba where slavery was still legal. 
Pip and I on the second floor veranda over looking the front yard.
Pip at Oak Alley. Her full name is Penelope Scarlett--a Southern Bell at heart.
Mist, Tabs and Pip on the upper veranda at Oak Alley. My little Bells. The breath-taking rows of 300 year old oak trees behind them.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Unknown said...

The pictures are amazing and the house beautiful, as well as the 3 girls in one of the pictures. It is hard to look at the poster of the slave info. How could people do that?

What was the grieving room. Did they have to have a room to grieve because so many people died?

Our temperatures here are approaching 40 this weekend but thank heavens we don't have the humidity that you have there!

July 7, 2012 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Mix Hart said...

They didn't have funeral parlors so anyone that died in the family had to have a make-shift parlor in the house. The patriarch did die an untimely death in his 40s.

July 7, 2012 at 4:07 PM  

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