Famed for its mystical and riveting history, this National Historic Register plantation home from circa 1796 represents antebellum splendour at its most striking. There are various legends surrounding the Myrtles Plantation, which has long been touted as one of America’s most haunted homes.
A Deep South state in the South Central United States, Louisiana is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous in the nation. Bordered by three neighbouring states, a large part of the state’s eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River.
Named in honour of King Louis XIV, the state is a true melting pot of cultures, strongly influenced by a mixture of eighteenth-century French, Italian, Haitian, Spanish, Native American, and African cultures, and is considered exceptional in the U.S.
The Mississippi River is the second-longest and chief river of the second-largest drainage system in North America. From the source of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it flows south for 2,320 miles to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico.
Developed atop a narrow ridge overlooking the river in 1809, the town of St. Francisville has been called “the town two miles long and two yards wide”, and during the antebellum era was the commercial and cultural centre of the surrounding plantation country.
With a number of plantations open for public tours year-round, the area has plenty to offer to those who want to learn about the antebellum-era south. The most interesting plantation in the area, with plenty of mystical stories to tell, is the Myrtles Plantation, located 26 miles north of Baton Rouge and 98 miles north west of New Orleans.
The plantation was built on 600 acres in 1796 by General David Bradford, also known as ‘Whiskey Dave’. Bradford lived there alone for several years, until President John Adams pardoned him for his role in the Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion in 1799, at which point he moved his wife and five children to the plantation from Pennsylvania.
The house is rumoured to be on top of an ancient Tunica Indian burial ground, and the plantation itself believed to be the home of at least 12 ghosts. It is often reported that 10 murders occurred in the house, but historical records only indicate the murder of William Winter, a popular attorney who lived on the plantation from 1865 until his death in 1871.
On arrival, the home and its environment provides guests with an immediate sense of peace and tranquillity. Surrounded by centuries-old live oak trees, the mansion features a 125-foot veranda, exquisite ornamental ironwork, hand-painted stained glass, open-pierced frieze work crown moulding, Aubusson tapestry, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, Carrara marble mantels, and gold-leafed French furnishings.
The Myrtles Plantation invites its guests to step into the past and experience antebellum splendour, encouraging you to relax in a giant rocker on the wide veranda or stroll through the historic grounds laced with live oak trees, crepe myrtle trees, azaleas, and other flora and fauna typical of antebellum plantations.
The original stained glass entrance was hand-painted, etched, and patterned after the French cross, to ward off evil. The ladies and gentlemen’s parlours are mirrored reflections of one another, identical in size.
The dining and gaming rooms, important to plantation life, are located downstairs, with the former providing a place to hold festive dinners and discuss events of the day, and the latter offering a restful and intimate atmosphere for games of chance.
The plantation offers guided day tours and private tours each day, as well as complimentary self-guided tours of the grounds. The 45-minute-long Daily Mystery Tour focuses on the history, mystery, and intrigue of the plantation, and runs seven days a week. On Fridays and Saturdays, you can take part in evening mystery tours, with the option of staying overnight in one of the plantation’s many spacious accommodations.
The plantation’s Bed & Breakfast has 18 distinctive accommodations to comfortably meet the needs of any of its many and varied guests, with each stay including a complimentary Daily Mystery Tour and breakfast.
The largest available suite is the Judge Clarke Woodruff Suite, located on the mansion’s second floor. The suite has a queen-size four-poster bed and a private bathroom with a bathtub, as well as a large private sitting area near the staircase, where it is advertised that attorney William Winter died in 1871, on the seventeenth step.
The only accommodation available on the mansion’s ground floor is The General David Bradford Suite, which provides access to the front and back verandas. The suite has a spacious bedroom with a queen-size half tester bed, a quaint sitting room, and a private bathroom with en-suite shower.
Whether you’re staying for the day or overnight, the plantation’s Restaurant 1796 is a must for guests. Centred around a 10′ wood-fired hearth, the restaurant delivers fresh Southern ingredients finished to perfection over the fire, offering the pleasant ambience of a family gathering, where engaging conversation brings a relaxed atmosphere to fine dining.
Harnessing the unique history of the property, most of the restaurant’s dishes have been touched by the hearth. Diners can choose individual main proteins, and then fill their table with small plates made up of from local, market-fresh produce.
Once your visit to the plantation is concluded, you will want to extend your stay in the popular tourist destination of St. Francisville long enough to enjoy the Southern hospitality offered by the interesting attractions, unique shopping, delicious restaurants, and fun adventures this charming town has to offer.
In addition to the Myrtles Plantation, there are a number of other restored historic plantations open for tours, including Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, Audubon State Historic Site, Butler Greenwood Plantation, and the Cottage Plantation, as well as several antebellum gardens.
For anyone wanting to learn more about the antebellum south, the state of Louisiana and the Myrtles Plantation in particular are good places to start. There is plenty more to do in the state, so make sure you take the opportunity to visit historic New Orleans, the state capital Baton Rouge, and the heart and soul of Cajun and Creole Country, Lafayette.
Find out more about the historic and haunted Myrtles Plantation by visiting www.myrtlesplantation.com.