Destrehan Plantation has existed since 1787 and is located in Destrehan, LA. Visitors will be transported back to life on a plantation complete with demonstrations of daily activities that happened during that period. Visitors are treated to demonstrations of blacksmithing; candle making; washroom, kitchen and gardening activities; the making of bousillage (bousillage is a mixture of mud, Spanish moss, clay and grass used to build homes in the area); period foods, and African American herbal remedies. The plantation is owned by the River Road Historical Society which is a nonprofit organization. River Road Historical society was created in the late 1960’s by a group of locals who wished to preserve the then deteriorating plantation house. In the early 1970’s, the group acquired the house and four acres of adjacent land. Near the end of the 1970’s, Destrehan Plantation was finally open to the public for tours after nearly a decade of restorative work.
Backstory and Context
The Destrehan House was originally owned by Jean Noel Destrehan who arrived in America from France in the early 1700’s 1 He purchased the property for Destrehan Plantation from his father in law’s estate. Jean Noel was a prominent Louisiana resident; he served as the first Deputy Mayor of New Orleans, helped to perfect the granulation of sugar, and was also essential in writing the state law for the new state of Louisiana. Jean Noel Destrehan and his wife Celeste had 14 children and several also contributed to the history of Louisiana.
Along with guided tours of plantation life, within the home are several exhibits pertaining to Louisiana history. In the Jefferson Room, visitors can view an original document signed by Thomas Jefferson from 1804 that assigns four men to the Orleans Territorial Council and is considered one of the most important documents in Louisiana history. In the Herbert J. Harvey Jr Legacy Room, patrons can view various artifacts and documents that were owned by the Destrehan family. The 1811 Slave Revolt Museum and historical Research and Education Center can be viewed during regular tour hours and houses artwork and display items. An overview of the history of the Creole slave system, the statehood of Louisiana, and life on a sugar plantation is featured within this house. The Destrehan Plantation also has many of its original outbuildings still on the premises. The largest, The Mule Barn, can be booked for various events such as weddings, dinner parties and more. 2