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Brad and Sherry Steiger

Please Visit his Official Web Site ~ edwardshanahan.com

Conscious Channeler Edward Shanahan




Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Circa 1787
13786 River Road, Destrehan, Louisiana 70047
Phone 985-764-8544 | Fax 985-764-0691 or info@plantation.com



Located in the small river community of Darrow, LA, it sits on a few acres on the Mississippi River, much smaller than the 20,000 acres that it once had. The present Houmas House was built in 1840 by Col. John Smith Preston, on land originally owned by the Houmas Indians, hence the name.

Records seem to show that Maurice Conway and Alexandre Latil purchased the land from the Indians. It was Latil who built the first structure, in the late 18th century, while Louisiana was a Spanish territory. Somehow Daniel Clark came to own the property, then sold it in 1812, to Revolutionary War General Wade Hampton of South Carolina.

General Hampton's daughter, Caroline, married John Smith Preston, and together they acquired ownership of the property. In 1840 they built the present mansion, known today as Houmas House. The original structure still stands, and is connected to the main house at the rear.

In 1858 they sold the house and 12,000 acres to Irishman John Burnside, one of the nations leading sugar producers, and to this day, the home is sometimes referred to as the "Burnside House."

From Acadiana's epoch of Evangeline to the myriad tales of haunted habitats in New Orleans' French Quarter, South Louisiana has a rich heritage — and active interest — in the plausibility of wandering souls from beyond the grave.

In these parts, ghost stories abound, mostly the sort told around campfires to adolescent audiences for pure entertainment. But actual sightings by reasonable, mature adults evoke a different reaction.

Houmas House Plantation and Gardens is the site of two very serious, inexplicable events; one precipitated by nature, the other by the very unnatural.

The Legend of the "Gentlemen"

In the days before the levee, Houmas House's Oak alley ran across the grand lawn, through the batture and on to the river's edge. The perfectly formed and heroically erect trees spread their branches arm-in-arm to welcome visitors to the property, all of whom approached from the River Road.

John Burnside, a colorful bachelor who presided as owner during the late 1800's, lovingly referred to these giant, leafy sentinels as "The Gentlemen." The reference prevailed through generations of stewardship until progress, in the form of flood control, came to the Great River Road.

The legend, and the irony, begins with the Great Flood of 1927 when the area around Houmas House was inundated for weeks and weeks. Houmas House, located on high ground, was spared; an island in a sea of misery and suffering that wreaked havoc on lives, property and the economy all along the big river.

On the heels of the great flood came the great depression, which spawned the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Among the projects that created work and wages for the Great Depression's hordes of indigents was the construction of new and higher levees.

As progress marched down the river, it also marched up the bank toward the once-great homes along the River Road, including Houmas House, which was by then unoccupied and out of the sugar business.

Only Mr. Green, the caretaker, and his wife lived on the property, making their home in the same house near the east gate where the present caretaker and his wife reside today.

Despite the national economic depression and decline in plantation life, "The Gentlemen" stood even more broad and proud than the day Burnside named the 24 stately trees nearly 100 years earlier.

But as the levee construction crews approached, their big saws brought Gentleman after Gentleman crashing to the ground. Up from the river toward the great house marched progress. The levee was raised, and the road was widened and paved.

The work was hard and dangerous, and 16 men died out on the big bend in the river that sweeps across the front of the Houmas House property. All perished after concocting a scheme to profit by floating the carcasses of Houmas House's giant oaks downriver to be milled in New Orleans. There were 16 profiteers set off aboard the backs of the big tree trunks. Their bodies were never recovered.

It was less than a week after the work crew felled its last victim at Houmas House that Mrs. Green returned from a daybreak trip to the outhouse, wrought with fear and animated by wide-eyed hysterics as she shook her dazed husband from their bed.

As the couple wobbled onto the front porch of the caretaker's cabin, neither could believe their eyes.

Literally overnight, the 8 remaining "Gentlemen," which had maintained their stately symmetry through hurricanes, droughts, floods and seasons of sub-tropical pestilence, had re-shaped themselves into grotesque sculptures of grief and agony, heads bowed and limbs drooping like mourners at a funeral.

The engineers assigned to the project cited a change in the water table, trauma from heavy equipment and trucks and other construction factors for the overnight transformation.

But the Greens, many long time local residents and members of the Houmas Tribe, original owners of the property, insist that the healthy remainder of the corps of "Gentlemen" became disfigured that cool fall night when they were occupied by wandering spirits of the lost workmen who desecrated their fallen brothers.

The impressive ancient oaks that you will encounter on the property today are the hardiest of that original cadre of Gentlemen which stretched up from the river's edge to Houmas House and on the Houmas Indian village to the north.

The old timers in the Parish insist that they are still inhabited by the spirits.


La Petite Fille (The Little Girl)

When Kevin Kelly purchased Houmas House Plantation and Gardens at auction in the late spring of 2003, the house had been off the trail of River Road tourism for a couple of years, and a relatively quiet participant in the tourism trade for even longer.

The Crown Jewel of Louisiana's River Road had lost its luster many, many years ago; still grand in scale but quiet in a sort of slumber.

When Kelly began his transformation of the property in the summer that year, no part of the once-grand mansion was left untouched. Fair damsel from an antebellum heyday, Houmas House was stripped of her shabby gown, scrubbed, scraped, manicured, trussed and bustled for a new couture and her next generation of admirers.

It was an extreme makeover.

And to say the least, it was disruptive. Literally no stone on the property was left unturned, and in the process, some say, a spirit was awakened.

A worker from the electrician's crew was the first to report that he had seen a young girl descending the freestanding stairway, and later in the large central hall. His concern expressed to co-workers: the house was a construction zone and unsafe for children, especially a girl of 7-10 years.

Working into the evening hours, two others in the crew saw the little girl in the blue dress with dark eyes and brunette hair. But before they could confront her, she was gone.

A cursory check of the legion of workers who came and went each day produced no identity for the little girl, or any claim to her. As work wound to a conclusion, no other sightings occurred. In the brief interim between the completion of reconstruction and work on the grounds to prepare the property for the arrival of tourists, the house was quiet again for a few weeks.

In the excitement of bringing the house back on line to the public, the mystery of the little girl was set aside, out of mind for those at the house every day welcoming visitors, guiding guests and maintaining the house and gardens.

Restored to its Crown Jewel status, Houmas House is again filled with activity. Days are busy as visitors fill its galleries, halls and parlors to experience the splendor of antebellum plantation life.

Amid the hustle and bustle, there's another visitor in the hallway, and on the stairs, according to tour guides and guests who have seen the little girl…in the blue dress…with the dark eyes and brown hair. She is usually sighted in the morning or later in the afternoon. She seems curious about all the activity, all the people, but disappears when approached.

There is evidence in the history of the house to suggest her identity.

In 1848, the young daughter of Col. John Preston was the belle of Houmas House, loved by all who worked and visited there for her sunny personality and joi d'vivre. Her lively games of tag in the gardens or hide-and-seek in the great house filled the plantation with the happy giggles and delightful squeals of youth. Then suddenly that year she fell gravely ill. The family left for Columbia, South Carolina where the young girl soon died. The family never returned to Houmas House, and those back in Louisiana who knew her and her love of the plantation mourned their loss.

Around 1900, another daughter of Houmas House died, this time on the plantation. Col. William Porcher Miles and his wife, Harriet, lost their daughter to illness at age 7. She was laid to rest in the family cemetery, known for its ornate Gothic fence located down by the river.

The cemetery disappeared, and several of the gravesites were disturbed, when the levee was built after the 1927 flood. The graveyard would today be located under the levee and out onto the batture. The remains of the dead are long gone, but what of the spirits?

Today, a little girl is a presence witnessed by many people at Houmas House. Her true identity remains a mystery. If you encounter her in the hallway or on the stairs, try to ask her name.

Plantation Homes Near New Orleans

Madewood Plantation
Madewood Plantation, one of Louisiana's majestic antebellum plantations, operates a Bed and Breakfast, allowing visitors to sleep in the plantation home on genuine antiques. Open for tours daily:

10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.(last tour).
For information, please call 1-800-375-7151, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or write to us at 4250 Hwy. 308, Napoleonville, LA 70390.
Our fax # is 985-369-9848. Official Web Sitewww.madewood.com

Oak Alley Plantation
Truly the quintessential Greek Revival Antebellum Plantation, it is one of the most visited of the plantations and antebellum homes along the river. Oak Alley Plantation, Restaurant & Inn
3645 Highway 18 (Great River Road) •- Vacherie, Louisiana USA 70090
Phone: (225) 265-2151 or 1-800-44ALLEY •Fax: (225) 265-7035
E-mail: ContactUs@OakAlleyPlantation.com

Official Web Site www.oakalleyplantation.com

Nottoway Plantation Home
Nottoway Plantation is a great bed & breakfast, and its grand white ballroom is a favorite for weddings. At the edge of sugar cane fields, Nottoway stands overlooking the Mississippi River. This enormous mansion, completed in 1859, reflects an unusual combination. Greek revival architectural elements blend with innovations that were the fanciful desires of the original owner. Not only is the floor plan irregular, but the house contained many elements that were innovative and rare in the mid-19th century, such as indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water.

Today Nottoway is open daily to the public.
Take a guided tour, stay overnight, have dinner,
perhaps even get married in this magnificent plantation!

Official Web Site www.nottoway.com

Beauregard House at Chalmette Battlefield
Site of the Battle of New Orleans in 1814–1815, (the last battle of the War of 1812), the Civil War Chalmette National Cemetery, and Beauregard House.

Also located on the Chalmette Battlefield grounds, and serving as a museum and visitor center, is the Beauregard House. Beauregard House was never used as a plantation, and was built in 1830. It is named for René Beauregard, its last owner, the son of the Civil War Confederate General, P. G. T. Beauregard (whose monument is at the entrance to City Park, at the north end of Esplanade Avenue). While many visitors arrive by automobile, many also arrive by riverboat, the Chalmette Battlefield being part of the tour.

Destrehan Plantation

Destrehan Plantation was built in 1787, originally of West Indies architecture, but later renovated to the then popular Greek Revival Style. It is the oldest documented plantation house left intact in the lower Mississippi Valley.

The plantation bears the name of its builder, Jean Noel Destrehan, who acquired the estate from his father-in-law, Robin de Longy. It was here that the process of producing granulated sugar was perfected, and helped to establish sugar cane as the major crop of the area, replacing indigo. After years of neglect, restoration is now continuing. Today, the house is open for guided tours, and is available for dinner parties, wedding receptions and special events.

Destrehan Plantation
13034 River Road
Destrehan, Louisiana 70047

Phone: (985) 764-9315 (Local from New Orleans)
Fax: (985) 725-1929 E-mail: DestPlan@aol.com

Ormond Plantations
Two historic Antebellum Plantation Homes within 30 minutes of New Orleans are Destrehan and Ormond Plantations.

Claiming to be the oldest French West Indies style plantation in the lower Mississippi valley, Ormond was also built in the late 1700's. Like most of the early plantations of the area, it began as a farm for indigo, but later switched to the more profitable sugar cane crop.

Originally acquired as a French land grant, the plantation stretched from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. During its long history, it was the focal point for parties and celebrations, a prize to be captured during the Civil War, makeshift housing for troops heading to the Battle of New Orleans, and more.

Today the estate is but a mere 16 acres, but is restored, as closely as possible, to the way it was during its prime. It is privately owned, and the owner lives in the house. Several rooms are available to guests as a Bed and Breakfast, allowing visitors to savor the atmosphere of the 19th century, with a view of the mighty Mississippi River from the upper gallery. It is becoming quite a popular place to have weddings and honeymoons. For added intrigue, Ormond, also, has its own ghost story. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Circa 1787
13786 River Road, Destrehan, Louisiana 70047
Phone 985-764-8544 | Fax 985-764-0691 or info@plantation.com


Laura Plantation Home
Laura, a French Creole Plantation Home, claims to be the American Home of Br'er Rabbit. Despite a devastating fire on August 9, 2004, Laura Plantation has continued to offer visitors
what Lonely Planet calls "The Best History Tour in the U.S."
The morning following the fire, guests continued to come. And they still do.

Laura Plantation
2247 Hwy 18
Vacherie, LA 70090

tel: 225 265 7690 / fax: 225 265 7960



La Branche Plantation Dependency House
La Branche Plantation Dependency House on the River Road in St. Rose, LA is what we call a Garconniere.

La Branche Plantation Dependency House, on the River Road in St. Rose, LA, is an interesting stop on the Southeastern Louisiana Plantation tour, because it is a visit to a plantation home that no longer exists. All that remains is the Dependency House, which had a function that is pretty much what the name implies. It is what we usually call a Garconniere (French for bachelor quarters). La Branche is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Zweig family, of Germany, built the plantation in 1792. Because of neglect, the effects of the Civil War, the economics during and after Reconstruction, and the division of the property among heirs, there is little left to indicate what was once there, save for "an alley" of Oaks. The site of the main house is on private land, and is not accessible to anyone, without the permission of the owners. The Dependency House is on land currently owned by the Lentini family, and is open to the public. Included in the inventory is the actual bathtub of Zachery Taylor.


Houmas House Plantation
One of the most visited Antebellum Plantation Homes near New Orleans. It was used as the filming location for the film "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charolette," starring Bette Davis.

Not only do tourists come by the busloads, but locals may make the drive to spend a couple of hours on the grounds, followed by lunch in nearby restaurants, before returning home. Houmas is a home with the architectural style that most people envision when they think of the old plantations. It was used as the filming location for the film "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charolette," starring Bette Davis.

Located in the small river community of Darrow, LA, it sits on a few acres on the Mississippi River, much smaller than the 20,000 acres that it once had. The present Houmas House was built in 1840 by Col. John Smith Preston, on land originally owned by the Houmas Indians, hence the name.






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