January, 2012. Baton Rouge, Louisiana – Magnolia Mound Plantation

Posted on January 29, 2012


Magnolia Mound – or maybe Mount Magnolia, records differ – is now surrounded by an urban setting, but the plantation was once the center of a 900-acre sugar and cotton operation with frontage on the Mississippi River.

The house was built around 1791 as a small farm residence, but in the early 1800’s Armand Duplantier, a prominent planter who had served as Lafayette’s aide-de-camp in the American Revolution, enlarged and renovated the original structure.

Sixteen acres of the original plantation are now owned by the City of Baton Rouge.  Our tour guide gave us a little back story not included in the “official” version of its ownership.  Baton Rouge obtained the property by eminent domain with the idea of selling it to Louisiana State University, who wanted to tear the house down and build student housing on the property.

Cooler heads prevailed, those interested in historic preservation raised a ruckus, and the city changed its thinking.  Today it is administered by the city’s Recreation Commission and is extensively accessed by the public schools as a teaching tool.

Open hearth cooking takes place in kitchen building

In addition to the main house, a typical raised Creole Cottage with verandas, Cyprus ceilings and floors and bousillage walls,

Mud and moss walls, called bousillage, covered with a layer of plaster

outbuildings include the original overseer’s house – discovered intact several streets over – an authentically reproduced operating separate kitchen with attached garden, and a couple other buildings.

The tour was made especially interesting by the costumed lady in charge of the kitchen that day, and by our tour guide, a young Black woman.

Somehow it seemed rather appropriate that a woman who could probably claim slaves as her antecedents should now be in a position to interpret a site so closely associated with slavery.