Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, Darrow, LA


Darrow Louisiana is a very small community. It houses one of the most interesting attractions that Louisiana can offer. Houmas House Plantation and Gardens is considered the "Crown Jewel of Louisiana's River Road.'' The property the house sits on was once owned by the Houmas Indians. They were granted the land to work. It sits between the Mississippi and Lake Maurepas. The land was sold in the middle of the 1700's to Maurice Conway and Alexander Latil. Latil built a house on the land in a French Provincial style. The house is still there sitting behind the mansion visitors come to tour.

In 1803 the plantation was well known for its sugar production. The property was sold in 1810 to General Wade Hampton. The mansion was built in 1825 by Hampton's daughter and her husband. It took three years for the home to be completed. By that time 300,000 acres made up the plantation. The property sold over the next two centuries to a variety of different owners. It was in 1963 that the house was opened for tourists to visit. The house is considered a landmark of American History due to the many owners. In 1963 the house was also used in "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte'' a Bette Davis film. The one bedroom used in the film still has the furniture from the movie.

Kevin Kelly purchased the property in 2003. Each room in the home and even the land is able to show the history of the Mississippi River and its plantation owners. The main house or mansion called the Houmas House was designed with a Greek Revival architecture on the outside. It had an alley of Oak trees lining the road, with miles of cane fields to the north and east. The front porch roof is held up with grand columns. There is also a twin Garconierre which is rare for a plantation home. Arched dormers and Doric galleries make up the home with a three story free standing staircase in the foyer.

The Houmas House Plantation and Gardens of Darrow have four actual gardens. There is the Hampton Garden, Upper Garden, Neptune Pavilion Fountain and Lawn, and the Fountain Courtyard. Each season brings a different flower out in the garden. It was set up to be a year round growing season. At certain parts of the garden there are red brick bridges to cross over the lakes and fountains.

The expanse of Houmas House includes several restaurants. Latil's Landing Restaurant is in the French House of Alexander Latil. There is also the Turtle Bar and the Cafe Burnside. Houmas House is also known for the Wine Cellars.

Among the offerings for visitors is a rich history of ghosts. The "Legend of the Gentleman'' talks about John Burnside who owned the home in the 1800's. The legend is actually talking about the oak trees that lined the driveway which were cut down to create a levee. The "Little Girl'' legend talks about a ghost child that walks around the house.

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