Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sights to See: Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, Darrow, Louisiana


Houmas House Plantation and Gardens  40136 River Road/Hwy. 942, in Darrow, (225) 473-9380, (225) 473-7841.  Tours daily 9am-7pm.  Once part of a sugar cane farm, this grand Greek revival plantation home began as a three-room cottage.  It is now known for the 40 acres of magnificent gardens that surround it, and something is always in bloom.  Sugar kettles, converted into small ponds, dot the premises.  Giant oak trees in front channel breezes into the house.  Allow time to stroll the gardens before or after your house tour led by a costumed tour guide who describes the plantation’s unique history, people, and culture.

garden fountain at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
garden fountain at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

drum bridge at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
drum bridge at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

The art and antique furnishings here are posh and spectacular, and a few are original to the house.  Highlights include a striking mural in the mansion's entry, which was painted by the head groundskeeper--who is also a talented artist and runs The Art Noir gallery on-site.

costumed guide by interior grand staircase Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
costumed guide by interior grand staircase Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

detail of contemporary mural at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
detail of contemporary mural at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

A gold clock that once belonged to Marie Antoinette and then Napoleon now resides on the mantle,

antique gold clock at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
antique gold clock at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

and a 68-pound solid-silver rendering of Abraham Lincoln made by American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who also chiseled the giant heads at Mt. Rushmore, sits calmly in the drawing room (don’t miss your chance to rub his nose for good luck).

silver sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
silver sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

And an original Gauguin graces a wall.

Gauguin painting at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
Gauguin painting at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

painting at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
painting at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

Plus, upstairs you’ll see the bed where Bette Davis slept while filming “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” here, as well as a vampire slaying kit from the collection of author Anne Rice.

the Bette Davis bed at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
the Bette Davis bed at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

The Carriage House restaurant is a splendid room.  Sitting in it is divine, and the food matches the surroundings.  Afternoon tea is served, and you can enjoy a casual but elegant dinner here.  My own meal was a bland local seafood gumbo with a potent French martini cocktail and a soft white-chocolate bread pudding ending.

Carriage House restaurant at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
Carriage House restaurant at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

gumbo at Carriage House restaurant at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
gumbo at Carriage House restaurant at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

An annex near the kitchen features taxidermy animal heads galore.

room with taxidermy heads at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
room with taxidermy heads at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

Tucked at the other end of this restaurant, behind a giant 600-year-old live oak tree that has been struck by lightning several times, the cozy Turtle Bar is the perfect spot for a before or after dinner drink.  Also, Cafe Burnside is open daily for lunch and Sunday brunch, and in the Old French House, Latil’s Landing, offers fine dining dinners. 

Turtle Bar at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
Turtle Bar at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

New cottages are situated sort of like the slave quarters were on plantations in times past--always in two rows, always on the outskirts of the property.  Built in 2012, The Inn at Houmas House is a collection of 6 luxuriously appointed cottage buildings with 21 rooms situated along a 300-year-old allee of ancient oaks.  Exteriors feature Doric columns and mimic planters' homes of the 1800s, and guests are provided rocking chairs so they can sit on their shaded porch and enjoy a gentle breeze off the Mississippi River.  A mixture of antiques and modern amenities decorated the attractive guest rooms, and each has a unique theme.  Bell service and transportation around the property is handled with golf carts.  Two complimentary house-tour tickets are included with each guest room.

cottage at Inn at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
cottage at Inn at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

guest room at Inn at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana
guest room at Inn at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana

More plantations.

More things to do in Louisiana. 

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

10 comments:

  1. Louisiana is such a wonderful place to travel. Colourful, multi-cultural, and lots of exciting history. And yes, I love the gumbo, too!

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  2. What a wonderful property - it looks as if you can get a real sense of history at Houmas House.

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  3. While Houmas house looks beautiful, and I'd love a stroll around those amazing gardens, it sounds like they've wiped away traces of its slavery-based past in favor of a romantic view of the south. Surely they used slaves before the Civil War to harvest the sugar cane? I just checked their website and there's no mention of slave ownership at all. Did they mention it on the tour you took?

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    1. I don't recall exactly what was said, but throughout these plantation homes no one is playing down slavery. This particular plantation is one of the most gorgeous around. Did you notice that guests stay out where slave cabins would have been placed long ago, but now the newly built cabins are luxurious.

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    2. Beautiful writeup. Rachel obviously should stay away from plantations. We all know slavery existed and are reminded of it continuously on a daily basis by liberals such as her. Churches are for mourning. We go places like Houmas to enjoy ourselves. I don't expect to see a display of Auschwitz at the airport upon arrival in Germany. Sorry, but people like this who want everyone to feel white guilt 24/7 just make me ill.

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  4. Houmas House Plantation is lovely. The drum bridge in the gardens reminds me of one of Monet's paintings.

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  5. Posh is a great description of Houmas House from the looks of your photos. Amazing art collection. The restaurant looks wonderful, but it was that cute little bar that caught my attention.

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  6. I haven't been to many places in Louisiana outside of New Orleans. This Plantation looks like it's well worth a visit.

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  7. Wow, nice looking inn and fantastic art. I saw an original Borglum statue in a museum and I cannot believe people can just rub the nose on this one. Guess that would be worth the visit.

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