Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site
12501 Highway 10, St. Francisville, LA 70775|
225-635-3332 or 888-376-1867
Directions: The site is located in West Feliciana Parish, in St. Francisville on La. 10. From Baton Rouge, follow US 61 north to La. 10, then turn right and head east one-quarter mile to the front gate. GPS Coordinates: N 30 47.4029, W 91 22.4254.
Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily; closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Guided tours are offered on the hour, with the final tour beginning at 4 p.m.
Entrance Fees: Admission prices are $10 for adults (age 18 from 61); $8 for senior citizens (age 62 and over); and $4 for students (age 6 through 17). Children, age 5 and under, will be admitted free.
Rosedown Plantation is located in the West Feliciana Parish community of St. Francisville along one of the most historic corridors in South Louisiana. The historic presence of the River created deep soil deposits to form uplands that became, in the days of the cotton boom, extremely productive and valuable. In addition to the natural flats, creeks draining to the River created some expanses of rugged, heavily treed terrain that became profitable as timberland.
The parents of Daniel and Martha (Barrow) Turnbull achieved high social status in West Feliciana through their immense cotton operations, and Daniel Turnbull himself was known before the Civil War as one of the richest men in the nation. The land that became Rosedown Plantation, named for a play that the Turnbulls saw on their honeymoon, was assembled not by the then-usual method of Spanish Land Grants, but in a group of seven purchases made by Daniel Turnbull from the 1820s through the 1840s. At its largest, Rosedown Plantation comprised approximately 3,455 acres, the majority of which was planted in cotton.
Daniel and Martha Turnbull began construction on the main house at Rosedown in 1834, completing it by May the following year. The home was furnished with the finest pieces available, most imported from the North and from Europe. A surprising amount of the furnishings purchased by the Turnbulls remained with the house during the years after the Civil War and many original pieces are still on display at Rosedown.
The gardens were the province of Martha Turnbull throughout her life. The Turnbulls’ honeymoon in Europe included great formal gardens of France and Italy, an influence seen in Martha's activities at Rosedown. The gardens grew out from the house over a span of many decades, to cover approximately 28 acres. In the 19th century, Rosedown was one of the few privately maintained formal gardens in the United States.The contribution of slave labor to the construction and upkeep of the plantation, as well as agricultural prosperity and wealth accrued by Daniel Turnbull, was immense. During peak years of cotton production, operation of Rosedown utilized as many as 450 slaves.
In the 1950s, Turnbull family members decided to try to sell the old plantation whole. In 1956, Catherine Fondren Underwood, herself an enthusiastic amateur horticulturalist, purchased it and began an eight-year historic restoration of the house and formal gardens.
The emphasis on restoration rather than renovation was applied to the formal gardens as well, which were reconstructed by Ralph Ellis Gunn using Martha Turnbull’s extensive garden diaries. When possible, the same species and varieties were replanted. When plants in Martha’s inventory were discovered to be no longer available, the staff of gardeners would propagate them from plant stock surviving in the gardens. Through this process, the gardens, as well as the house, were returned to their original state.
Currently, the main house, historic gardens and 13 historic buildings and 371 remaining acres of Rosedown Plantation are preserved as a state historic site by the Office of State Parks. State Parks staff and volunteers work to conserve and maintain the site, conducting tours and programs to illustrate plantation life in the 1800s. In 2005, Rosedown Plantation was place on the National Listing of Historic Landmarks.
Audubon State Historic Site (Southeast of St. Francisville on LA 965) - The nearly 200-year-old Oakley House is where John James Audubon drew inspiration and sketched many of the birds found in his famous Birds of America. The visitor may tour the house-turned-museum, formal gardens, an outside kitchen building and barns, walk the trails and enjoy a picnic lunch at the large pavilion nearby.
Centenary State Historic Site (East College and Pine Street in Jackson) - This is the former site of Centenary College. Visitors may tour the old West Wing dormitory or a professor's cottage and learn about the history of education in Louisiana. A Confederate cemetery is located on the grounds.
Locust Grove State Historic Site (4 miles northeast of St. Francisville on LA 10) - Visit the gravesites of Sarah Knox Taylor, wife of Jefferson Davis, and General Eleazor Ripley, distinguished soldier in the War of 1812.
Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site (South of Baton Rouge on Main Street/La. Hwy. 1 in downtown Plaquemine) - Compiled in 1909 , the lock provided access from the Mississippi River to Bayou Plaquemine. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the site features the Gary James Hebert Memorial Lockhouse and is open for tours daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Port Hudson State Historic Site (US 61, 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge) - This 909-acre site encompasses part of the Port Hudson Battlefield Civil War Site. Featured are six miles of hiking trails, 11/2 miles of trenches, a museum and interpretive programs. Fort Desperate, a primary Confederate position, is accessible by a concrete walkway and elevated wooden boardwalks.
Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area (14 miles northwest of St. Francisville on LA 66) - Day-hiking, wildlife viewing, birding and hunting (in season) are featured across 5,231 acres of rugged hills, bluffs and ravines.
Historic Town of St. Francisville (North of Baton Rouge on US 61) - The Historic District includes 140 structures encompassing churches, antebellum homes, townhomes, cemeteries, and dozens of antique and gift shops.
Historic Town of Jackson (East of St. Francisville on LA 10) - The Historic District covers two-thirds of the town and features more than 120 structures including banks, shops, homes, churches and warehouses.
Historic Town of Clinton (North of Baton Rouge via LA 67) - The town is known for its historic architecture, including Lawyers Row, the East Feliciana Parish Courthouse, and charming Victorian and antebellum homes.
LA Scenic Bayou Byway - The Byway in this area takes you through some of the historic "Florida" parishes in English Louisiana known for the British influence in their architecture and cultural traditions. Follow US 61 and historic LA 10 (once known as the Choctaw Trail) to quaint historic towns, charming bed and breakfasts, country drives, profuse native wildflowers in season, excellent birding, cycling and interesting antique shops.