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Friday, June 12, 2020

Destrehan Plantation: Part Two

Not Sponsored: I want to talk to you today about some of the family members of Destrehan Plantation. The Destrehan Plantation stayed in the family for 123 years. That's a very long time. So as you can imagine, many people are involved. I mentioned in Part One that Robert Antoine Robin DeLogny contracted with Charles Paquet (a free mulatto) to build Destrehan Plantation (1787-1790). DeLogny died two years after it was built (1792). The plantation was then purchased by Jean Noel Destrehan (DeLogny's son-in-law; pictured sitting at the writing desk below). He and his wife had 14 children, so they added two semi-detached wings to the house called garconnieres. After Destrehan's death (1823), it was purchased by his son-in-law, Stephen Henderson. He married Marie Eléonore "Zelia" Destréhan (pictured below). She was only 16 when she married him. He was 42. She went to New York and died (1830) at the age of 30 (childless). He was so grief-stricken that he died 8 years later (1838). "Henderson's will was quite controversial in its time, as it stipulated that all his slaves be freed; and for those that desired, they would be given transport to Liberia. For those who stayed, a factory was to be set up for the freed slaves to manufacture shoes and clothes, and 25 years after his death a city was to be laid out on the grounds of the plantation and named Dunblane. The family contested the will; and after 12 years in litigation and an appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the will was set aside based on a legal technicality (source)". Destrehan Plantation was then purchased by Pierre Adolph Rost and upon his death (1868), his son sold it to the Destrehan Planting and Manufacturing Company (1910), which ended the family ownership of the estate. From that point, it has been owned by the American Oil Company (Mexican Petroleum Company - 1914) and they donated the property along with 4 acres of land (also an additional 12.8 acres of land) to the River Road Historical Society (1971). I'm a huge fan of biographies. I love learning about the lives of people (both good and bad). This tour did a great job of telling the stories of all at Destrehan Plantation. There are a lot of people involved, but if you take each one individually their stories are fascinating to read about.

Destrehan Plantation


It was really interesting viewing the inside of the plantation. There are a series of rooms on all levels. It doesn't contain hallways. Architects during that time felt hallways were a waste of space. Upon going up the stairways, the floors were slanted. The reason for it was if water were to enter it would run "downwards".  You had strong and sturdy marble mantles. Huge writing desks. The furniture pieces are commanding in size. The plantation was looted and vandalized when it remained vacant for 12 years (after the American Oil Company tore down its refinery). There was an old legend that privateer Jean Lafitte had hidden treasure in the house. So vandals stole many of the original mantels, cypress paneling, Spanish-syle ceramic tiles and glass window panes.


I thought the table below was so beautiful. I loved the richness of its color and patterned seats. I was also captivated by the various types of lighting they used. I love food! I love faux food! I was always taught the importance of having dinner with your family. As a child and til this day, I sit at a table for dinner. It's a time to discuss. A time to enjoy. When I saw these tables, it reminded me of those things. Spending time with family and friends is so important.

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