Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site
The Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site was established in 1934 which makes it the oldest state park in Louisiana. Part living history museum and part ode to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s popular and epic poem, Evangeline, this 157-acre state park is home to the Maison Olivier Creole Cottage, which became a National Historic Landmark in 1974, and a wonderful reproduction of an Acadian farmstead. Both are staffed by period actors and interpretive rangers that convey what daily life was like as either a modest Acadian or a more well-to-do Creole along the Bayou Teche.
Backstory and Context
Longfellow’s poem recounts the story of Evangeline, an Acadian expelled from Nova Scotia, and her search for her long lost love, Gabriel. It’s historically significant to both Acadian and local history as it is set in and around Bayou Teche. The historic site uses the poem to educate its visitors about the historical importance of the area as various peoples and cultures melded together to form a complex and diverse community of Acadians, Creoles, Native Americans, French, Spanish, and African (both free and enslaved) in the early 19th century.
The historic site has served as a hunting ground for the Attakapas, a French land grant and cattle ranch, home to exiled Acadians, an indigo plantation and a cotton and sugar plantation owned by Pierre Olivier Duclozel de Vezin. Vezin built the Maison Olivier, which is a great example of Raised Creole Cottage architecture, around 1815.
Visitors are then invited to compare and contrast the life lived by de Vezin and his Maison Olivier with that of a typical Acadian family who worked the land on a typical farmstead. It features a family house, barn, privy, outdoor kitchen and bread oven, working fields and vegetable gardens. The park also features a small museum that houses historical artifacts and offers an introductory video prior to exploring the historic site. Finally, it also features special events and interpretive programs throughout the year.