Friday, November 20, 2009

Houmas House, Darrow, Louisiana

Festivals, weddings and history live at Houmas House in Darrow, Louisiana. Bette Davis slept in an upstairs bedroom while filming “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte”. Jeff won the Quickfire Challenge during a 2009 taping of “Top Chef”, and a number of TV ads have been made on the lush grounds of this, the largest American sugar plantation of the 19th century.

Phylicia, a tour guide dressed in authentic period costume, rings the garden bell signaling the start of the 23-room Sugar Palace tour. Grab your camera - this is one museum where visitors can linger and take as many pictures as they want.

The three-story Greek Revival mansion is filled with artwork and antiques, each with its own history.

Wander through the foyer with its hand painted murals reflecting a sugar cane motif. Is that Marie Antoinette’s mantle clock in the sitting room? In the game room just off the library, entire fortunes were won or lost on a single game of billiards.

At the foot of a freestanding, three-story helix staircase, a silver fruit server holds an array of apples and pineapples – symbols of opulence and welcome. But, did you know that placing a pineapple at the foot of a houseguest’s bed was a polite way of letting them know it was time to go home?

Centuries old oaks (some over 450 years) dot the grounds, along with the main house and a garconiere (bachelor’s quarters).

Chef Jeremy Langlois serves a delicious lunch at Latil’s Landing Restaurant near the original kitchen, built in the 1770’s.

Located on Louisiana’s River Road at 40136 Highway 942D Darrow, LA, Houmas House is open for tours Mon & Tues 9 – 5, Wed – Sun 9 – 7 (except for Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission is $20 mansion and gardens tour,
$10 gardens and grounds only.

Visitors aren’t just tourists, they are welcome guests. Stay all day at the plantation, strolling through 38 acres of gardens and ponds, and an extensive gift shop.

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