The Laura Plantation is a historic Louisiana Creole plantation on the west bank of the Mississippi River near Vacherie, Louisiana. Laura Plantation was kept by 4 generations of a Creole family, both enslaved and free. This plantation has been restored, and it is open for guided tours. It was formerly known as Duparc Plantation. Because of its historical importance to American History, the plantation is on the National Register of Historic Places. The site, in St. James Parish, Louisiana, is also included on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. It is known for its early 19th-century Créole-style raised big house. There are only 14 others like it in Louisiana. The property is 37 acres and includes the big house and several outbuildings. Two slave cabins are also on this property.
Backstory and Context
Guillaume Duparc's sugar farming complex was originally called l'Habitation Duparc, then years later, renamed the Laura Plantation. In 1804, a French naval veteran of the American Revolution called Duparc retrieved the property. Duparc's farm was located on prime real estate, on unusually high and cleared ground. He placed his manor house squarely in the middle of the large Colapissa Indian village that had been on-site for over a century. The Duparc farm name was eventually changed to Laura Plantation.
The heritage at Laura Plantation is that of the Creole culture. Creole is the non-Anglo-Saxon culture and lifestyle that bloomed in Louisiana before it was a part of the United States in 1803. This culture continued to be very prominent in Southern Louisiana until the early 1900’s. Until then, native birth in Louisiana, the French language and Roman Catholicism were the benchmarks for identity in this society that included people of white, black and mixed-race ancestry.
Human bondage was a regular part of Louisiana's Creole world, and on the Laura Plantation. Louisiana was the last place on the North American continent where slavery was legally permitted. In the state of Louisiana, slavery was viewed more as a system of class rather than of color or race. There were Native American slaves, African slaves, and European slaves in Louisiana. Creole Louisiana would function as a different class society and slavery was the lowest but fundamental part of that system.
The Laura Plantation has been an important historical site that displays the stories, artifacts, and exhibits of the Creole population. The owners of this plantation are dedicated to the continual research on their plantation to preserve and spare the culture that the area holds. This is because they believe that the Creoles play a significant role in the history of America, being in bondage to being free.
Bauman, Harriet J. French Creoles in Louisiana: An American Tale. Vol. 2. New Haven, Connecticut. Yale-New Haven Teacher's Institute, 1992.