Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Destrehan Plantation - Destrehan, LA (The $100 Mansion)

13034 River Road
Destrehan, LA 70047

            To boast over the moniker of being the oldest plantation in Louisiana, you better be able have some great history and haunted tales to go along with the bragging. Fortunately, Destrehan Plantation can back up their claims!
            This West Indies Creole-style home was built in 1790 by Robert Antoine Robin de Logny and Charles Pacquet. In the days of grand construction contracts worth millions of dollars, the contract to build Destrehan is almost comical. According to records, Pacquet was given the use of six slaves to build the house. He was paid the grand sum of "one brute negro," a cow and a calf, 100 bushels of both corn and rice, and $100 in cash upon completion. Talk about a deal!

            After passing through the hands of several owners, the plantation became a major producer of indigo initially, and then quickly grew into sugar production, soon becoming the major sugar
Photograph of an Antique Destrehan
manufacturer in St. Charles Parish in the early 1800's. In 1825, the home was bought by Scottish immigrant, Stephen Henderson, who was quite the unique character. He demanded that all his slaves be freed and released back to Liberia. For those that wished to stay on the grounds, a factory was to be set up for the freed slaves to manufacture shoes and clothes, and even twenty-five years after his death a city was to be laid out on the grounds of the plantation and named Dunblane.

            In 1839, the home went under a massive remodeling, as it was bought by Pierre Adolphe Rost, a justice on the Louisiana Supreme Court. Pierre Rost died in 1868 and his wife and son, Emile Rost, continued to live at Destrehan Plantation. Emile Rost sold the plantation in 1910, to the Destrehan Planting and Manufacturing Company. In 1914, the home was sold to the Mexican Petroleum company where a refinery was built. From that point on, the grounds and buildings on it
One of the Home's Bedrooms
fell into total disrepair as neglect took over. To make matters worse, a rumor that the famed pirate Jeanne Lafitte hid treasure inside the walls of the homes caused vandals to break into the home and tearing the walls apart, looking for a treasure that was never found. Fortunately, the local sheriff prevented the theft of the plantation's original 1840's iron gates and a 1,400 lb marble bathtub, rumored to be a gift from Napoleon Bonaparte.

            Finally in 1971, American Oil donated the home and land to the River Road Historical Society where the home was finally restored to its former beautiful self and opened to the general public for tours.
            Multiple spirits are claimed to reside in the near-ancient Destrehan Plantation. Guests have reported seeing a strange glow coming from various windows of the home as well as seeing the apparition of several young girls playing through the house. Several staff has seen the apparition of a
One of Several Adjacent Slave Cabins
white male and a woman in a long white dress. Many feel that the grounds are also haunted by many of the slaves that died on the property. Several years ago, an individual claiming to be sensitive visited the property and picked up on the spirit of a young woman she ultimately named “Lucy”, who was reportedly stuck here on earth because of the harsh manner that she treated her slaves.

            The true source(s) for the hauntings at Destrehan are literally endless. Could they be due to Lucy, deceased slaves, or even former pirates who attempted to hide their treasure on the property? Possibly no one will ever know! In the case of Destrehan, simply pulling a random name from a hat may be the best place to start.

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