Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm Getting Old

I recently had a birthday and She took me on a plantation excursion. We spent the night at Nottoway and at Houmas House. Each of those places has evolved into a tourist destination of sorts, with numerous attractions. Both host a lot of weddings and other events, both have fine dining restaurants. Nottoway has overnight accommodations for about 100 people including rooms in the house and cottages.

This is something we have been talking about for a long time. We even did it once, spending the night at Madewood a few years ago, before I started this blog.

This was a sort of surprise. I knew something was happening but I didn't know exactly what.

Friday afternoon we took off work early and headed up the river and over the Sunshine Bridge. We arrived a Notoway
and checked into our new cottage, it had been open only a year or two.

The room was very nicely furnished.

Since it was late in the afternoon we unpacked, walked around the grounds and eventually got ready for dinner at the Mansion Restaurant, located in the lower level of the house.

Our table was the one of the far right. The food was very good and the service pretty good. I recommend it. The only drawback is like a lot of restaurants it is noisy, although that may have had more to do with the party at the next table.

Saturday morning we had breakfast in the restaurant. Two eggs any style with choice of bacon or ham, grits and biscuit ($7.00). They didn't run out of grits.

Finally the tour of the property. It was interesting. The most interesting part was how the plantation survived the Civil War. It seems the owner took his slaves to Texas where he hired them out to make cash. When the war was over he had the cash to purchase a pardon and keep the plantation. The second most interesting part was the opinion of our guide, a retired school teacher, on the state of education in Louisiana.

Heading back across the Sunshine bridge to Houmas House.

Houmas House doesn't have any overnight accommodations except their Honeymoon Cottage.

It is an old cottage with two rooms, a bed room and a bridal room. It also has a large bathroom with a giant tub. There is no TV in the cottage nor as far as I could find anywhere on the plantation.

There is however a bar on the premises

It is fairly small and serves as the bar for the restaurant and the various events. I got the opportunity to teach two bar tenders how to make a daiquiri.

We had dinner at Latil's Landing Restaurant, located in the old trading post building behind the main house. The Food was excellent and the service very good. I recommend it also.

There are several small dining rooms, this is the one we ate in.

Sunday morning we had a bit of a problem, the water went out early in the morning and didn't come back on until after 10. We were wondering whether the rest of our day would be in jeopardy, you see we wanted to take a tour and have brunch before departing.

Nothing seemed to go awry. Tours were announced by the ringing of a bell and they went on more or less as scheduled. We took the 11:00 AM tour, led by a very dramatic young lady named Katie. Whenever I take these kinds of tours I'm never sure how much of the spiel is accurate but in South Louisiana we have never been anxious about letting a few facts get in the way of a good story.

Again Houmas House survived the Civil War as a viable working plantation. The story of how that happened is also interesting. Apparently the Owner freed his slaves several months before the war started and hired them back as employees. He also kept his money in Northern banks, was an Irishman and therefore a British Subject and had a letter for Abraham Lincoln.

The most interesting thing on the tour was a large map of Louisiana from the 1840's. It showed the extent of major plantations and listed the population of each parish. It listed population in three columns White, Free Colored and Slaves. I can't recall the exact numbers but I was surprised to see that Orleans parish was listed with somewhat over 100,000 residents. Somewhat over 50,000 were white and there were almost equal numbers of slaves and free colored residents (each in the 20,000's).

After the tour we had Sunday Brunch in the Pavillion Ballroom, one of the venues on site. It was pretty good as well.

After brunch we drove back to New Orleans in time to watch the saints game on TV, but that is another story.

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