December 5, 2015

New Orleans: Spending the night in a plantation home

I feel like Scarlet O’Hara as I sit on my four-poster bed at Houmas House, about an hour’s drive west of New Orleans, writing this blog post.

The old plantation home has been lovingly and lavishly restored by businessman Kevin Kelly who has undoubtedly reclaimed this former crown jewel that once proudly glistened on the banks of the Mississippi, to its former glory. A massive 500-year old southern live oak tree sags on the front lawn, it’s heavy limbs burdened by the years and the stories it could tell, resting on the ground.

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At one time this house ruled over 300,000 acres of agricultural land including 65,000 acres of sugar cane and was worked by possibly as many as 8000 slaves. Today it is a restoration project that is full of original period furnishings, art and quirky bits and pieces collected by Kevin (and his friends who also look out for stuff he might like to buy on auction sites). The whole place is breathtaking and utterly priceless.

He’s a multi-millionaire in his own right, having worked hard in New Orleans making money through freight warehousing and now spends it on his passion, Houmas House, its history and its gardens.

I am in one of the new cottages, each decorated exquisitely – with the added luxuries of a coffee maker and huge flat screen TV. A new restaurant (The Carriage House) has just been built utilising plans he found for the building from a 150 years ago but was never realised. Today it’s one of three possible reception rooms for the 65 weddings per year they also host. The next project is the amphitheatre, currently under construction, which will be a gorgeous place for live opera, jazz and music events.

An hour’s drive west of New Orleans via long bridges snaking across swampland, Houmas House is a great day out for lunch, a stop over on your drive to NOLA from Texas or just down the road from Baton Rouge.

Here are a few of my favourite pics from our tour (read: nosey) through the house…

Plantation house

Majestic Houmas House faces the Mississippi River

Houmas Plantation

Standing on the second floor looking through the live oaks to the river

Houmas House

The alligators are dressed up for Christmas! Houmas House from the side

Houmas House

Shayla is our guide for the tour of the house – including the office and bedroom where the owner lives and works!

Houmas House

The flowers in the dining room

Houmas House

The room Bette Davis stayed in when she filmed Hush. Hush Sweet Charlotte in 1963 and which has memorabilia from the movie

Houmas House

This is a fly catcher! On the dining table for ridding one’s dining experience of the pesky things

Houmas House opium

In the games room are these heavy lawn darts and medicinal bottles of what was available back in the day: morphine or opium anyone?!

Billiards

The gentlemen’s room

Houmas

The outdoor bath with its dinky seat!

Houmas house

Real glass Christmas tree ornaments (but polystyrene fruit, as I just discovered tonight!)

Houmas house guest cottages

The guest cottages

Houmas House cottages

Looking out my room from the four-poster bed…

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I was invited to be a guest for the night at Houmas House and am revelling in the luxury!

About Megan Singleton

Megan

Megan Singleton is a travel writer, blogger and radio correspondent. She's been gallivanting around the world telling stories for the last 16 years and has her suitcase always half packed (or half un-packed!) Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want to keep up with the journey!

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