Rosedown is a magnificent plantation estate that sits at the end of a glorious 660 foot avenue of live oak trees. It is a Federal-Greek revival style with Grecian style wings (circa 1845). At it's height, Rosedown encompassed 3,455 acres. Today it is 374 acres located in the rolling hills of West Feliciana Parish, in the town of St. Francisville. It is one of the most intact, documented examples of a domestic plantation in the South.
Daniel and Martha Barrow Turnbull contracted with W Wright to build the "great house." According to Daniel's journal, cypress lumber was hauled to the home site to begin construction on November 3, 1834. The house was completed on May 1, 1835. It took exactly 6 months from the date of contract to completion. This was a massive feat, considering the detailed work on the interior.
The entrance room, as shown below, was surely meant to impress all who entered. The staircase is made of mahogany and according to tour guides handcrafted by slaves. The wallpaper was silk screened from a 100 year old sample and installed during the 1960's renovation.
The dining room above features a shoo-fly or punkah fan. It is said that a slave would stand to the side and pull the rope causing a slight breeze in the air with the added benefit of "shooing" the flies away.
|Butler's Pantry/Slave Stairs to 2nd Floor|
See the window to the side of the fireplace in the breakfast room? The window lifts up and the wall underneath unlatches to open a doorway to the back veranda.
|Marble Fireplace/Storage on side|
|Entrance Hall/Front Parlor|
|Music Room with Beautiful Chandlier|
In 1956, Catherine Fondren Underwood, herself an enthusiastic amateur horticulturalist, purchased the property and began an eight-year historic restoration of the house and formal gardens. 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 placed on the National Listing of Historic Landmarks.
Due to the size of the property, I am breaking down my post into a series. This was a look at the first level of the home, Thursday I'll post the upstairs, along with a little more history of the plantation and family.
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