Places to visit in Вачери

Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie of May 20, 2021


It was an incredible adventure! Vacherie is a small St. James Parish, Louisiana, USA community. It is known for its historic plantations that offer visitors a glimpse into the area's antebellum past. One of the most famous plantations in the area is Oak Alley Plantation, renowned for its oak-lined driveway and Greek Revival-style mansion. Visitors can also explore the Laura Plantation, known for its Creole architecture and offers tours that delve into the history of the area's enslaved African American population. Vacherie is also a popular spot for Cajun and Creole cuisine, with many restaurants offering dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and po'boys.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
Здравствуйте! Меня зовут Женя, я путешественник и гид. Здесь я публикую свои путешествия и путеводители по городам и странам. Вы можете воспользоваться ими, как готовыми путеводителями, так и ресурсом для создания собственных маршрутов. Некоторые находятся в свободном доступе, некоторые открываются по промо коду. Чтобы получить промо код напишите мне сообщение на телефон +972 537907561 или на и я с радостью вам помогу! Иначе, зачем я всё это делаю?
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Oak Alley Plantation is open daily, except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. The hours of operation are from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. However, visitors are advised to check the plantation's website or call ahead to confirm the hours of operation, as they may be subject to change.

Admission to Oak Alley Plantation includes a guided tour of the Big House, access to the grounds and exhibits, and a self-guided tour of the Slavery at Oak Alley exhibit. As of my knowledge cutoff of September 2021, the admission prices were as follows: Adults (ages 19-64) $25, Seniors (ages 65 and up) $22, Students (ages 13-18 and college students with ID) $15, and Children (ages 6-12) $10. Children under six years old are admitted free of charge. Special rates may be available for groups of 20 or more, and tickets can be purchased online or on-site. Again, visitors should check the plantation's website for the most up-to-date admission price and policy information.

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The central alley from the ticket office to Oak Alley Plantation was lined with Southern Magnolia trees, also known as Bull Bay trees, native to the southeastern United States. These trees have large, glossy leaves and produce fragrant, white flowers in the spring and summer.

In addition to the magnolia trees, Bottlebrush trees were planted along the central alley. Bottlebrush trees are native to Australia and are known for their bright red, cylindrical flowers resembling a bottle brush's shape. These trees can grow up to 20 feet tall and are often used as ornamental plants in landscaping.

Together, the magnolia and Bottlebrush trees create a beautiful and unique atmosphere for visitors as they make their way from the ticket office to the plantation.

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Enslaved people at Oak Alley Plantation lived in dormitories that starkly contrasted the grandeur of the Big House. These dormitories were simple, one-room structures made of wood with thatched roofs. They were arranged in rows and located behind the Big House and outbuildings. Life in the dormitories was difficult and overcrowded. Enslaved people slept on pallets or straw mattresses on the floor, with little privacy or personal space. The dormitories were often infested with vermin and lacked adequate ventilation, which made them hot and uncomfortable in the summer and cold and damp in the winter.

The plantation was once home to Dr Merricq, a former surgeon in Napoleon's army who gained a reputation for his precise and successful amputations. Unfortunately, accidents were common on sugar plantations, and amputating a limb was often more accessible than repairing a fractured or crushed bone. So Dr Merricq buried the amputated limbs, believing they would be reunited with the patient in the next life. Three enslaved field workers at Oak Alley, Louis, Vincent, and Charles, received arm amputations from Dr Merricq.

Pognon worked as a seamstress and hairdresser for Celina Roman and her daughters. She was at their beck and call, brushing their hair and mending their clothes as a house-enslaved person. Pognon's appearance allowed Celina to show off her wealth; she wore better clothes and shoes than most enslaved people. However, this also meant that Pognon was expected to be presentable at all times, and if her appearance did not meet expectations, she was punished.

Enslaved people at Oak Alley Plantation were also responsible for doing laundry, which the plantation mistress often oversaw. Laundry kettles were used to heat water for washing clothes and linens, and they were positioned near the kitchen or work area where enslaved people monitored open fires. Although laundry kettles were similar in size and weight to sugar kettles, most plantations had a fixed set of kettles and tubs explicitly reserved for laundry.

Despite the difficult living conditions, enslaved people at Oak Alley Plantation found ways to make the dormitories feel like home. They decorated their living spaces with personal items and create community through music, dance, and storytelling. The dormitories also served as a place for enslaved people to support each other and find solace in the face of the dehumanizing conditions they were forced to endure.

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Augustine and Thalie were the plantation's enslaved Sick Nurses, responsible for the community's general care. With no formal training, these women relied on experience, treating their fellow slaves with African and Western medicine. If their methods failed or there was an accident, they would ask permission to summon Dr Merricq.

The agriculture on the plantation relied on crops that originated from Africa, such as okra and cowpeas, as well as crops that were introduced by European settlers, such as cabbage and corn. Watermelon, which is thought to have originated in southern Africa, was also grown on the plantation, and its sweet fruit and spreading vines required a great deal of space to develop.

Sweet potatoes originated in Middle/South America and were routinely grown in plantation gardens for sweet or savoury dishes, and they remain popular today. Mustard greens were also an integral part of an enslaved person's diet, rich in nutrients and easy to grow, serving as a substitute for the greens available in Western African regions.

Pret-a-boire was born into slavery around 1799, first designated as a house enslaved person before being repeatedly demoted to the ox-cart driver and, finally, to the lowest class of field enslaved person. His life became increasingly difficult with each demotion, and he developed debilitating rheumatism and asthma. Despite these challenges, Pret-a-boire persisted and found small moments of joy in cultivating crops like cowpeas and okra and caring for the plantation's animals.

The story of Augustine, Thalie, and Pret-a-boire offers a glimpse into the complex and often brutal reality of life for enslaved people on sugar plantations. Yet, despite their unimaginable challenges, enslaved people relied on their knowledge and traditions to care for each other. As a result, they found ways to find small moments of joy and solace amid unimaginable adversity.

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Religion played a significant role in the lives of enslaved people on Oak Alley Plantation. Many enslaved people were Catholic, voluntarily or mandated by the Roman family. The Catholic ritual of Infant Baptism was essential, and slave baptisms were complex affairs that required the presence of the mother, child, owner, priest, and two godparents. At Oak Alley, godparents were often chosen from other plantations, suggesting that mothers had some agency in their child's identity.

Despite the importance of religion, practising Catholicism was not always easy for enslaved people. The closest Catholic churches, St. James and St. Michael, were far from Oak Alley, and St. Michael's required a ferry trip. As a result, Jacques Roman, the owner of the plantation, often waited until there were several infants to be baptized so that slave mothers, children, and Jacques could make the long trip as a group, stopping at different plantations to collect godparents.

Religion offered enslaved people a way to find meaning and community amid unimaginable adversity, but it was also a reminder of their lack of agency and freedom. The Catholic faith, which emphasizes humility and obedience, may have resonated with enslavers but also reinforced the power dynamic between enslavers and the enslaved. Despite these challenges, enslaved people found ways to make meaning and find solace in their faith, creating a rich and complex legacy that continues to shape our understanding of the intersection between religion and slavery.

Chattel slavery was a brutal system in which enslavers had complete control over their human property's health, liberty, and life. Enslaved people were bought, sold, mortgaged, and traded as groups or individuals, with their value assigned based on distinctions such as complexion, skills, or birthplace. This dehumanizing system reduced people to mere commodities to be appraised and sold like furniture.

The inventory of enslaved property from Jacques T. Roman's succession is a stark reminder of the horrors of chattel slavery. The inventory lists dozens of enslaved people, each with a monetary value assigned based on age, gender, and perceived skills or attributes. Distinctions such as "American," "Creole," "African," "Negro," and "Mulatto" were used to determine their value.

Enslaved people were often divided into groups based on their perceived value. Those deemed most valuable - such as skilled craftsmen or those with lighter skin - often received better treatment or more opportunities for freedom. The inventory of Jacques T. Roman's enslaved property is a chilling reminder of the dehumanizing effects of slavery and how people were reduced to nothing more than a monetary value. Yet, despite these dehumanizing conditions, enslaved people found ways to resist, survive, and create communities in the face of unimaginable adversity. One such example is the story of the boy Pret-a-boire, who, despite being repeatedly demoted to the lowest class of field enslaved person due to his owner's capricious whims, found ways to persevere and make a life for himself.

Enslavement significantly impacted the identity of enslaved people, including their clothing and personal possessions. Archaeological findings from the exhibit area have provided insight into the material culture of the enslaved community at Oak Alley. Recovered artefacts, such as broken china, metalwork, and a hoe, tell a story of the daily life of those who lived and worked on the plantation. Clothes symbolized an individual's identity, but for enslaved people, clothing was chosen by their masters and made from limited materials. Slaves Meanna, Pognon, and Rosalie were responsible for creating clothing for the entire enslaved community at Oak Alley, using whatever materials were provided by the Roman family. Their efforts to repurpose and reuse materials demonstrate the necessity of making the most of what was available. Despite the limitations imposed by their enslavement, the enslaved community at Oak Alley found ways to express their identity through their clothing and personal possessions.

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Oak Alley Plantation is a breathtaking sight with its iconic 28 evenly spaced, 300-year-old oak trees that create a stunning entranceway to the plantation. These magnificent trees, with their massive branches and moss-draped limbs, have become a symbol of Southern charm and hospitality. The mansion, built in 1839, is a magnificent example of Greek Revival architecture, with its white columns and imposing presence.

However, beneath the surface, beauty lies a darker history of enslavement and oppression. Oak Alley Plantation was built on the backs of enslaved African Americans forced to work the land and make the plantation prosperous. Their labour, sweat, and tears helped create the wealth that sustained the Roman family's lavish lifestyle.

Despite this dark history, the plantation has become a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from all over the world who come to marvel at the beauty of the oak trees and to learn about the history of the plantation. The plantation offers guided tours that give visitors a glimpse into what life was like for the enslaved and the owners during this time. The exhibits showcase the daily lives of the enslaved people who lived and worked on the plantation, their struggles, and their triumphs. In addition, visitors can explore the plantation grounds and tour the mansion to see how wealthy plantation owners live in luxury.

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Crape Myrtle is a type of tree found in the Oak Alley Plantation, adding to the beauty of the already stunning landscape. The Crape Myrtle is a famous ornamental tree in the Southern United States, with its vibrant pink and white flowers blooming in the summer.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Crape Myrtle holds historical significance in the Oak Alley Plantation. In the early 20th century, Josephine Stewart, the then-owner of the plantation, purchased many Crape Myrtle trees and had them planted along the entrance drive to the estate. The intention was to provide visitors with a colourful and fragrant welcome, and the trees have continued to thrive and beautify the estate to this day.

Additionally, Crape Myrtle trees have been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. The tree's bark has been used to treat various ailments, including dysentery, fever, and diarrhoea. In the context of slavery, enslaved people often had to rely on traditional remedies and herbal medicines due to the lack of access to healthcare. It is possible that Crape Myrtle was used in this capacity on the Oak Alley Plantation.

Today, the Crape Myrtle remains a beloved feature of the Oak Alley Plantation and reminds us of the plantation's rich history and natural beauty.

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The Southern Magnolia is another iconic tree species found at Oak Alley Plantation. These trees are known for their large, fragrant white flowers and glossy green leaves with a rusty-brown underside. The Southern Magnolia is native to the southeastern United States and was a famous ornamental tree on plantations. The trees at Oak Alley were likely planted for their beauty, shade, and ability to provide privacy around the plantation home. The wood of the Southern Magnolia is also prized for its strength and durability and was used for building purposes such as flooring and furniture. Today, the Southern Magnolia is still a famous ornamental tree in the South and can be found in many gardens and parks.

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The main house of the Oak Alley Plantation features a striking gallery with columns that spans the entire length of the front facade. The gallery is supported by 28 evenly spaced Doric columns made of solid brick and plastered with stucco. These columns are topped with white wooden capitals and a matching fence with a basic Greek design.

The gallery offers breathtaking views of the lush gardens and oak alley. It is a perfect spot for relaxation and socializing. It is easy to imagine the Roman family and their guests spending hours in this gallery, sipping on mint juleps and enjoying the Southern breeze.

The gallery played an essential role in the daily life of the plantation. Enslaved people would use it to perform various tasks such as cleaning, sweeping, and other maintenance duties. It was also a place where the enslaved would gather and wait for the Roman family's instructions or be called for work.

The gallery columns are beautiful and symbolize the grandeur and elegance of the antebellum South. Today, the gallery continues to be a significant feature of the Oak Alley Plantation. It attracts visitors from all over the world who come to admire its beauty and historical significance.

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As you step through the front door of the Oak Alley Plantation's main house, you are immediately greeted with a breathtaking perspective view of the oak gallery.

You can see the verdant landscape beyond through the arches, where the stately oaks stand like sentinels. The natural light filtering through the trees casts a dotted pattern on the gallery floor, adding to the serene ambience of the space. The hardwood floors and smooth plastered walls provide a simple background that allows the gallery's grandeur to shine through.

The rain transforms Oak Alley into a magical wonderland as droplets cling to the branches and leaves of the majestic oaks. The pitter-patter of the raindrops provides soothing background music, enhancing the serene atmosphere of the plantation. The lush greenery around Oak Alley seems even more vibrant in the rain, creating a breathtaking sight that will leave a lasting impression.

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Admission to the main building at Oak Alley Plantation is by guided tour only, which is included in the cost of entry. Visitors are required to arrive at least 20 minutes before the scheduled tour time. The tours last 45 minutes to 1 hour and are offered daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Visitors are not permitted to take photographs or videos inside the main building but are welcome to take them outside and in other areas of the plantation. There are also food, drinks, and smoking restrictions inside the main building.

To ensure the safety and preservation of the historic site, visitors are asked to follow the regulations and guidelines set by the plantation, including staying on designated paths, refraining from touching or removing any objects or artefacts, and keeping a safe distance from any wildlife.

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The parents' bedroom in the main building of Oak Alley Plantation is a spacious and elegant room that exudes luxury and sophistication. The room features high ceilings, exquisite antique furnishings, and a large four-poster bed with a beautiful canopy. The walls are painted in soft, muted colours, which adds to the serene and peaceful atmosphere of the room. Large windows with shutters provide natural light and offer stunning views of the oak alley and gardens outside. The room also has an attached private bathroom with a classic claw-foot bathtub, a pedestal sink, and intricate tilework. It is truly a stunning and impressive space that captures the essence of southern charm and elegance.

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The second-floor veranda of the Oak Alley Plantation is a beautiful and spacious outdoor space that offers stunning views of the plantation grounds. It is accessible via a central staircase from the main entrance hall and is lined with white columns that provide a classic Southern touch. The veranda features comfortable seating areas with rocking chairs and benches where visitors can relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The view from the patio is exceptionally breathtaking during the spring when the gardens are in full bloom and in the fall when the oak trees turn golden and red. It is a popular spot for taking photos and experiencing the plantation's grandeur.

The view of the main building of Oak Alley Plantation from the rose garden is breathtaking. The grand, white Greek Revival-style mansion with its towering columns and symmetrical design is stunning. The garden's lush greenery is the perfect backdrop to the impressive building, making it all the more beautiful.

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The garden of the Oak Alley Plantation boasts a stunning collection of camellias, including the C. japonica Purple Dawn. These beautiful plants are native to China and Japan and were introduced to America in the late 18th century. Thanks to their hardiness and winter blooming cycle, camellias quickly became a unique feature in gardens throughout the South, including Josephine Stewart's. Despite the inconsistent nomenclature of camellia varieties, visitors to Oak Alley can appreciate the beauty and elegance of these exquisite blooms and admire their vibrant purple hue in the Purple Dawn variety.

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Over the past few centuries, sugar consumption has increased exponentially. In the 1700s, the average person consumed only four pounds of sugar yearly. By 1800, this number had risen to 18 pounds; by 1870, it had skyrocketed to 50 pounds annually. As sugar's demand increased, so did its price, earning it the moniker "White Gold" for its desirability and high cost. As a result, the average American consumes between 150-170 pounds of refined sugar yearly.

Compared to the 1850s, modern sugarcane farming is a more intricate process. Farmers use fertilizers, pesticides, and ripening agents to ensure a successful crop. They spray herbicides and fungicides on both established and new sugarcane fields, replacing the previous method of manual weeding. A notable change in modern farming is using a "ripening agent" sprayed in late August to early September. This chemical halts the cane's growth and forces it to produce more sugar, preparing it for harvesting.

Sugarcane has not undergone significant changes since 1850, and plants still grow for three years before replanting. However, modern farming techniques have dramatically increased yield. In 1850, planters could expect 1,500 pounds of sugar per acre, whereas today, that number has risen to nearly 8,000 pounds per acre. Farmers remove any remaining stubble to prepare for planting, rotate summer crops like soybeans to maintain soil nitrogen levels, prevent weed growth, and reshape rows. Planting sugarcane now involves mostly mechanized labour, with tractors pulling planters that drop stalks into furrows, cover them, and roll the ground. Within two weeks, new plants emerge.

Sugarcane harvest season, known as "The Grinding," was a time of intense work on plantations. The harvest took place between October and January, weather permitting. Waiting too long to harvest the cane could lead to freezing, causing the juice inside to deteriorate and become impossible to crystallize into sugar. Enslaved workers worked 18-hour shifts for weeks, cutting the cane, bringing it to the sugarhouse, squeezing the juice from the plant, and crystallizing it into sugar using a Jamaica Train. It was a 24-hour operation, and even at night, lights could be seen from the mill and far out in the fields.

The Sugarcane plantation's growing season was divided into two tasks: tending to the cane and preparing for the harvest. Planters tasked their slaves with removing weeds by hand since no pesticides existed. The workers used hoes to pull out grass and other plants that would otherwise compete with the cane for nutrients and water. Those not tending to the club would cut wood for the sugar mill or repair plantation roads. Planters understood that bad roads could halt the entire operation for days while repairs were made, and some, like Oak Alley, installed mule-driven railroads to solve this problem. By replacing cartwheels with railroad wheels and laying down tracks, planters ensured that sugarcane could be collected from even the farthest reaches of their plantations, regardless of the weather.

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Victorin Roman balanced his planter role with politics, benefiting the Roman family. As the Parish Recorder, Victorin had an intimate understanding of the business activities of his neighbours in St. James Parish, which extended to the entire Roman family. Similarly, Jean Jacques, Victorin's son, continued the tradition of being both a planter and a politician by serving as Parish Judge. Meanwhile, despite not holding any political or financial position, Josephine Roman Alme surpassed her brothers in wealth. She married Valcour Aime, a planter who saw sugarcane as a science and constantly worked to improve it. With Valcour's business sense and Josephine's family connections, they created a thriving sugar plantation known as St. James Refinery or Le Petit Versailles due to its grandeur and imaginative gardens. Jacques Telesphore Roman, or J.T., was the youngest sibling who concentrated on plantation operations and owned Oak Alley, a more modest sugar plantation upriver.

Like many other planters, the Roman family used enslaved individuals for much more than labour with the assistance of banks such as the Consolidated Association of the Planters of Louisiana. The enslaved people were used as a guaranteed line of credit and replicating cash source. When J.T. Roman died, his inventory at Oak Alley showed that he had mortgaged every enslaved person at least once, indicating that they provided revenue well beyond what their work produced in the cane fields.

The Roman family was a successful dynasty in the Creole elite due to their ability to keep business and profit within the family. Led by André Bienvenue Roman or A.B., the family considered external factors that affected sugarcane, such as the economy and politics, to ensure the crop's success as an exported commodity. A.B. served in multiple positions, including State Representative, Speaker of the House, St. James Parish Judge, and two non-consecutive terms as Louisiana's Governor. He was also an unofficial advisor to the family and served as Executor of the Estate for his siblings. Sosthene Roman, while running Magnolia plantation with his brother Zenon, served as a Director for the Consolidated Association of the Planters of Louisiana and made a lucrative foray into the slave trade, purchasing enslaved people from the East Coast and reselling them on New Orleans' auction blocks.

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