Tuesday, February 7, 2012

House Tour - Rosedown Plantation


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
 The butler's pantry has such grand cabinetry with a door exiting out the back that leads to an outdoor kitchen.  There is a VERY narrow set of stairs that was used by the slaves.  I don't know if you can see in the picture but the threads are very worn.  I don't see how they could possibly walk with the stairs holding anything especially since there is no railing.

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.

I know the above picture is blurry but I just had to show the "modern" bath.  Can you imagine taking a shower here?  The bath is in the left wing off the Henry Clay room which is shown below.

Marble Fireplace/Storage on side
It is believed that when Henry Clay ran for president, he had a bedroom suite made for the White House.  Once he lost the presidency, Daniel purchased the furniture and in order to have somewhere to house it built the wings on each side of the house (circa 1845).  The mantel in this room was said to be in a million pieces when the restoration began.  I could see no evidence of it myself.  Built into the wall beside each fireplace is a storage area that is very unique to the time period.  Click here to see the bed.

Entrance Hall/Front Parlor

Music Room with Beautiful Chandlier

Office/Library area
Daniel died in 1861 and, of course, with the effects of the Civil War, the plantation saw a steady decline in its way of life.  The family stayed at Rosedown protecting and farming the property as best as they could with 250 sharecroppers. Martha died in 1896, leaving daughter Sarah  in sole possession of Rosedown. After Sarah's death in 1914, Sarah's four unmarried daughters (Corrie, Isabel, Sarah and Nina) took over the plantation. In the 1930s they decided to open the house to tourists interested in the remnants of the prosperous cotton culture. The sisters made extraordinary sacrifices to hold Rosedown, and when Miss Nina, the last surviving sister, died in 1955, there were no bills or mortgages outstanding on the property and they still had 3,000 acres of land, the 28 acres of gardens, the house and all its furnishings.  The property was in a state of neglect but not beyond the state of repair.

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.

Linking to: 

 "Do the Bunny Hop" at Bunny Jeans Decor and More....

 "Wow Us Wednesday" at Savvy Southern Style......

"Home Sweet Home" at The Charm of Home...


  1. I thinks I have been their years ago.Is it on the River Roads? I went to so many. Thanks for sharing,Love it! Joann

  2. No, it is right off LA Highway 61 in St. Francisville. It is several miles inland from the river. Thanks for stopping by, Tammy

  3. Thank for sharing this beautiful Plantation. It is so elegant and the restoration is fantastic. I am a new follower. Please come and visit.

    1. Hi Ginger, Thanks for stopping by and becoming a new follower! I will be coming over to visit...Tammy

  4. We pass by this all the time whenever we go to Baton Rouge but I never knew what it was called. Thank you for the info. I love the staircase. Beautiful antebellum house! It is pretty close to Myrtles, right? I have toured the Myrtles....Christine

    1. Hi Christine! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, Rosedown is a couple of miles south of the Myrtles...Tammy

  5. How beautiful! I would love to take a trip there and visit some of these.
    Thank you for linking it with Home Sweet Home!


Thank you so much for all your lovely comments! I try to return the favor and visit each one of you! ~Blessings, Tammy~