Dinner fundraiser supports historic preservation

Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, July 15, 2020

DESTREHAN — COVID-19 has hit the tourism and travel industry hard. Destrehan Plantation is operating at about 10 percent and limiting tours to nine people at a time. The usual buses of full of tourists haven’t traveled from the East Coast to Louisiana this year, and organizers are looking for ways to support the preservation of local history.

The River Road Historical Society, a small nonprofit organization, is holding a lunch and dinner fundraiser on Friday, Aug. 14. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner will be served from 4 to 7 p.m.

The menu consists of jambalaya, white beans, catfish and garlic bread. The cost is $9 when pre-ordering and paying by credit card. Payment the day of the event is $10. Extras including a peach cobbler dessert and bottled drinks will be available for $2 each.

Dudley A. Stadler III guides a small group through a recent tour of Destrehan Plantation.

Pick-up is at the Destrehan Plantation Mule Barn, located at 13034 River Road. Please drive through the gate and to the back of the plantation to access the Mule Barn.

Cash or check is acceptable the day of the event. Pre-orders and payment by credit card should be directed to destrehanplantation.org/events/fundraiser.

Delivery will be available for orders of 15 or more. For more information, call 985-764-9315 or visit destrehanplantation.org.

The River Road Historical Society’s mission is to preserve history and provide education on the historic Destrehan Plantation, according to Melissa Monica, public and media relations director.

All proceeds from the Aug. 14 fundraiser will support the restoration and preservation of Destrehan Plantation and its dependency buildings.

The grounds hold a lot of history, including the ancestral roots of those who reside in the River Parishes today. Tours present the stories of the families that resided in the home and of the enslaved people who lived and worked on the grounds.

“We want to enlarge our exhibit and eventually have a little office set up for genealogy because we have records of all the people that were here,” Monica said. “This would give people in the community a chance to know some of their ancestors.”

Destrehan Plantation also offers an 1811 exhibit in the education center, which formerly served as an overseer’s cabin. The plantation also offers Rost Home Colony exhibits, named after the family that owned the plantation during the remodeling, Civil War and Reconstruction era.

“When the plantation was taken over by the Union after the war, they formed a Freedmen’s Bureau here. What this did was allow people who were enslaved, now free people of color, to learn trades onsite so they could transition into a life of freedom,” Monica said.

Meal pick-up will take place at the Destrehan Plantation Mule Barn, located at 13034 River Road.

During a typical summer, without COVID-19 lingering overhead, Destrehan Plantation tours could support up to 20 people without a reservation. More would be welcome to join with a reservation. The virus has also adversely affected bookings to the on-site cottages. Monica said cottage bookings come with tour discounts to out-of-state visitors and a free tour for Louisiana residents.

“We are part of the community,” Monica said. “We employ at least 50 people. Everybody who works here is a history buff.”

Among those employees is Dudley Stadler III of LaPlace.

“I love working at Destrehan Plantation because of the in depth history of the place and the interest tour guides have in its history. Destrehan Plantation’s history began in the late 1700s and continues till today,” Stadler said.

“One significant part of its history includes its age. It is the oldest documented house in the lower Mississippi Valley. Two other parts are the trial after the 1811 Slave Revolt and the Freedman’s Bureau during and immediately after the War Between The States.”

For more information, visit destrehanplantation.org.