Oak Alley Plantation
Oak Alley, located in Vacherie, Louisiana, is a favorite stop for the Mississippi River steamboats. The plantation house was built in 1837 in a Greek Revival style, and the massive two-story Doric columns spanning the front give it a particularly imposing presence. The most evocative view is with your back to the river facing the house along a quarter-mile canopy formed by 18th- century southern live oaks. Standing on the front porch and looking along the same canopy, you would not know the Mississippi River is there because of the impressive levee. When fog settles on the river, the “tunnel” takes on an eerie look.
What We Love
Getting the Full Picture: A visit to Oak Plantation includes time to explore the main house as well as the reconstructed slave quarters, a blacksmith shop, the gardens, and the Stewart family graveyard. The restaurant on site serves authentic Cajun and Creole cooking.
Best Known For
Confederate History: The house and grounds were used as a campsite during the Civil War by the Confederate Army, which is part of the reason it was never burned or badly damaged. The house fell into disrepair as the area's fortunes changed, but was given new life, and the rejuvenated interiors give a clear picture of the life led by the original family and their staff.
Cameo Appearances: The house has appeared in numerous films, including "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" starring Bette Davis and more recent movies such as "Interview with a Vampire" and "Primary Colors."
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Who It's Best For
American History Buffs: This is such a classic antebellum plantation house located in a quintessential riverfront setting where you can see how everyone lived before the Civil War.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
A Tough Time in History: Slavery is a tough topic to cover in one short visit to a single plantation, especially understanding the differences in the lives of the field slaves and the house slaves. The beautiful surrounding is hard to reconcile along with the plight of the slaves who lived there.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.