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Oak Alley Plantation

Great American Mansions: Oak Alley Plantation

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Massive oak trees frame the Antebellum Oak Valley Plantation house in Vacherie, Louisiana.
Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana

Photo: ArtToday.com
Oak Alley Plantation
1837-1839
Gilbert Joseph Pilie, architect
George Swainy, builder
Vacherie, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation (L'Allée des chênes) was named for a quarter-mile double row of 28 live oaks, planted in the early 1700's by a French settler. The trees extended from the main house down to the shore of the Mississippi River. Originally called Bon Séjour (Good Stay), the house was designed to mirror the trees. The architecture combined Greek Revival, French Colonial, and other styles.

The most stunning feature of this Antebellum house is the colonnade of twenty-eight 8-foot round Doric columns - one for each oak tree - that support the hip roof. The square floor plan includes a central hall on both floors. As was common in French Colonial architecture, the wide porches can be used as passageway between rooms. Both the house and the columns are made of solid brick.

In 1866, Oak Alley Plantation was sold at auction. It changed hands several times and gradually deteriorated. Andrew and Josephine Stewart bought the plantation in 1925 and, with the help of architect Richard Koch, restored it completely. Shortly before her death in 1972, Josephine Stewart created the non-profit Oak Alley Foundation, which maintains the house and 25 acres surrounding it.

Today, Oak Alley Plantation is open daily for tours, and includes a restaurant and inn.

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