VACHERIE, Louisiana - There's a place on River Road where discoveries are happening every day. Layers and layers of Creole history are on display, telling a tale of the time when this was French territory, before Napoleon sold it to the United States in 1803. If you want to show your family a chapter of history that's unique to Louisiana, Laura Plantation should be on your list of places to visit.
Not every Southern plantation home has white columns. A visit to Laura Plantation on River Road will give you a feel for what this region looked like when colorful, Caribbean-style "big houses" were scattered along the Mississippi riverbank, homes to families who were there to tend to business during the sugarcane season, but who spent the rest of the year in fancy French Quarter digs, attending galas and celebrating Carnival season.
The slave experience is a main focus at Laura Plantation, and a recently opened exhibit explores multiple facets of slave life. It's called “From the Big House to the Quarters: Slavery on Laura Plantation,” and has an entire room dedicated to the slave trade. According to Joseph Dunn, manager of public relations at the plantation, visitors are often surprised to learn of the melting pot that existed at Laura Plantation, including the fact that the slaves who lived there had many different backgrounds.
Some Laura Plantation trivia:
The plantation was named for Laura Locoul when she was just 13 years old.
Laura eventually ran the plantation, but never owned slaves.
Some of the well-known "Br'er Rabbit" tales ("Compair Lapin" in Creole), were recorded in the slave cabins at Laura Plantation.
All visits to Laura Plantation are guided.