Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Majestic 300-year-old trees are signature of St. James home



Oak Alley Plantation was acquired in 1820 by Francois Gabriel &#8220Valcour” Aime, before being sold to brother-in-law Jacques Telesphore Roman. The main house on the large sugar plantation took three years to build starting in 1836, before the building was sold at public auction on Dec. 15, 1866.

Roman used slaves and workers from building contractor George Swainy to erect the manor house and buildings that surround it, of course highlighted by the long row of oak trees which were planted in front of the house in the 1700s.

Oak Alley went through many owners, sold again in 1867 with half-interest to a New Orleans businessman Hubert Bozano.

Bozano sold half interest in 1873 to Hector Humphreys, but upon the death of Armstrong, his share passed to Bozano, who sold it to the Humphreys and once again put the entire property in the hands of a sole owner.

The property was sold four times until 1912, when Oak Alley was abandoned for five years until 1917, leading to the ruin of much of the marble flooring that was originally put in place. Reportedly the property was overrun by cattle from area fields.

However Jefferson Davis Hardin bought the estate in 1917 and went about a huge restoration that, unfortunately, led to Whitney Bank taking the property over from Hardin in 1924.

Andrew and Josephine A. Stewart purchased the property in 1925 and made many renovations to the mansion, and restored it to its gracious stature once again. They retained ownership of the property until the death of Josephine in 1972. Shortly before her death, she created a non-profit foundation known as the Oak Alley Foundation so the home and 25 acres would be open for all to share.


*** Greek-revival style antebellum mansion completed in 1839.

*** Averages about 200,000 visitors a year, from all over the world.

*** About 100 acres of park-like grounds, including world-renowned alley of 300 year old live oaks.

*** 28 columns around the house, eight feet in circumference and solid brick.

*** Veranda 13 feet from the walls, keeping the home in shade most of the day.

*** Remaining 600 acres are farmed as sugar cane, with 450 acres of wetlands.

*** Five 19th Century bed and breakfast cottages.

*** A Cajun-Creole restaurant housed in 19th century Creole cottage.

*** A 2600-sq. ft. gift shop with souvenirs, gift items, antiques and collectibles.

*** Location of such movies such as &#8220Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte,” &#8220Interview with a Vampire,” and &#8220Primary Colors.”

*** Available for private functions such as weddings, cocktail parties and sit-down dinners.

*** Beautiful Christmas decorations in the 19th Century tradition with live greenery.

*** Tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. through February; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., March through October. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

*** French tours now being given Monday through Friday at 11:45 and 3:15.

***Admission: Adults, $10; Students (13-18), $5; Children (6-12), $3. AAA, military and group discounts available.

*** For more information, call 225-265-2151, or e-mail at ContactUs@OakAlleyPlantation.com.