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Louisiana - Oak Alley Plantation


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Oak Alley is a very beautiful place, and it is proof that historic preservation can be profitable. Prior to Katrina, the site annually drew in over a million dollars in tourist revenue alone. There were several improvements planned for the site, namely reconstruction of the two garconnieres in front of the main house, as well as construction of a hall to be used for wedding receptions. The exterior of the hall is to be a re-creation of the sugar mill that was once on the property, allowing it to senstitively fit in with the historic buildings that are sill standing. Since Katrina hit, their priorities may have been adjusted, so these may have become longer-range plans.

The entire River Road Corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans has a fascinating history. Though Oak Alley tends to steal the limelight, some of the other sites actually have more interesting stories behind them. Fortunately, with Oak Alley's success as a tourist destination, the families that own other Plantation homes are finally opening them to the public. St Joseph (next door to Oak Alley) recently opened, after being a private residence for the same family for almost 200 years! The restoration and development of the site are still in progress, but the property has greater historical significance, and is more intact than Oak Alley.

The St Joseph property also contains my favorite Plantation house -Felicity. Many will recognize Felicity as the house from "The Skeleton Key." It is still the home to descendents of the original owner, who are both over 90 years old! Afther their death, the family plans to restore the home and open it to the public. I had the rare opportunity to go inside, and it is definitely the best Greek Revival house on River Road, in my opinion.

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