LAURA PLANTATION- VACHERIE, LA
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About an hours drive upriver along the west bank of the Mississippi River, south of New Orleans, sits a rather unique plantation named Laura. Its uniqueness is derived from the fact that it is one of only about 15 still-standing

 

raised Creole plantation houses in Louisiana. Typical of other structures located in proximity to the Mississippi River, Laura’s elevated floors assisted in its survival from the spring floods prior to the construction of levees in the early 20th Century. The elevated character also aided in ventilation under the main floors during the hot Louisiana summer months.

The property was originally acquired by Frenchman Andre’ Neau who obtained a land grant in 1755 from France. He sold the plantation before 1800 to the Dupare family who built the structures including the “big house” in 1805. Laura served as a sugar plantation from then until well into the 20th century. The plantation features 11 historic buildings presently on the National Register of Historic Places.

Through most of its history, Laura Plantation has operated successfully by female descendants of the Dupare family. The property was sold to Florian Waguespack in 1891 by Dupare descendant Laura Locoul on the stipulation that the house continue to be named Laura.

The French owners shared the property peacefully with the Native American Colapissa Indians who occupied the site well-before the plantation was built. The last remaining full-blooded native left in 1915. When the slaves were brought into Louisiana from Africa in the 1720’s, the plantation era prospered and Laura Plantation was no exception. The sugar plantation included 7 slaves in 1805 to 185 at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.

Each year, the family would plant, care for, and harvest the crop by mid October. Most would then winter in their homes downriver in New Orleans.

In 1894, Alcee Fortier, president of the American Folklore Society and Dean of Foreign Languges at Tulane University, published Louisiana Folktales following many years of collecting stories from former slaves. Fortier collaborated with his friend Joel Chandler Harris of Georgia in 1895 to includeThe Little Tar Baby story with Harris’ Tales of Uncle Remusand his famous Compair Lapin better known as Br’er Rabbit.

Today, Laura Plantation serves as an accurate reminder of plantation life in the 19th century. Tours are held daily with the exception of Christmas, New Years, Mardi Gras, Easter, and Thanksgiving. By all accounts, the narrative provided in both English and French by Laura’s guides, is excellent. I highly recommend that you arrange a tour if you’re visiting South Louisiana for the first time or lived here and not previously visited. It’s not too far downriver from the famous Oak Alley Plantation in St. James Parish. Visit the Laura Plantation website for more information as to hours and location.