The Acadia Plantation was a historic plantation house in Thibodaux, Louisiana, U.S.. It was the plantation of James Bowie, who served in the Battle of the Alamo. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 1987. It was demolished in 2010.
- 1 Today
- 2 History
- 3 Architecture
- 4 Interior layout
- 5 Furniture and collections
- 6 See also
- 7 References
In 2010 Acadia Plantation was demolished and a plaque was placed on Hwy 1 next to Nicholls State University in memory of the plantation. Construction crews worked from the inside out as they dismantled portions of the historic plantation home. The land and home was purchased by Jake Giardina and partner Ron Adams in 2003 from the Plater family as part of a 3,000-arce transaction. The home’s future has been a topic of local debate since that time, although there have been no organized attempts to save it. It was listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The 3,400-acre plot of land is now a subdivision which includes a mix of stores, restaurants and homes to the people of Thibodaux. The 132-arces of Acadia Plantation is residential homes and businesses. The style and arrangement is similar to those found in the New Orleans French Quarter. A grammar school, children museum, doctors office are among the developments of the subdivision.
Acadia Plantation, with its gables, dormer windows, and ornate gallery, is located south of Bayou Lafourche, along the crest of the natural levee. Highway 1 now approximately 50 meters to the north, and Nicholls State University is approximately 500 meters to the west-northwest. The home is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Plater, Jr. The long history of this plantation is a colorful tale of Louisiana’s past. Acadia plantation was first owned by the Bowie brothers, Jim Bowie, Rezin Bowie, and Stephen Bowie who had a lucrative business that involved buying slaves from Jean Lafitte in Galveston, Spanish Texas, and bringing them overland to Opelousas to be sold. Indian trouble made this a dangerous route, however, so in 1819 operations were moved to Houma, Louisiana. In 1827 a flood drove the brothers from Houma, leaving them in need of new headquarters. It was Lafitte who suggested Bayou Lafourche for the Bowie brother’s new establishment.
In 1828 the brothers began buying several adjoining plantations naming the land Acadia. Separate homes were built only yards apart for Jim, Rezin, and the brothers’ mother. On this land the Bowies built Louisiana’s first steam-powered sugar mill. In 1830 the brothers purchased the back land totaling the size of the plantation to about twenty-one hundred acres. Jim’s restlessness soon had him packing off to Texas, where he later became one of the many heroes of the Battle of the Alamo.
In 1831 Acadia Plantation was sold to Duncan, Robert Walker and James Wilkins. During this time the Union Bank of Louisiana opened a branch in Thibodaux and invited landowners to mortgage their land to buy shares in the bank. The owners of the plantation lost everything to the bank in 1842 because of a depression and two years of crop failure. In 1845 Philip Barton Key, nephew of Francis Scott Key, and mother Anne Plater Key bought the land from the bank. This included all the land of Acadia, the growing crops, every slave, and shares in the bank. He added three other sizable tracts of land to the estate before his death in 1856.
The land was then purchased by John Nelson and his son-in-law, Andrew Jackson Donelson, (a nephew of Mrs. Andrew Jackson) until he died in 1858, and the war and postwar years saw several mortgages and lawsuits developed from Nelson’s attempts to hold the plantation together. When Acadia was seized in lieu of taxes for 1871 and ’72, Edward J. Gay, paid the debt, and operations of the plantation were resumed by Gay and Nelson. When Edward J. Gay died the Prices formed one spacious home by joining the three original homes of Jim, Rezin, and Mrs. Bowie. The Prices also ran the sugar mill on the land from 1850 until 1926, and continued to farm cane. In the late 1900s a dairy farm was set behind the main home and operated until the 1940s.
The main house at Acadia Plantation is locally significant in the area of architecture as a landmark among late nineteenth-early twentieth century residences in Lafourche Parish. The present standing structures at Acadia include a c.1890 frame Queen Anne Revival main house, two contemporaneous cottages, and relatively modern outbuildings. The house has a rambling cruciform plan with ten major rooms on a principal story. Two flights of steps which ascend a full story to an Eastlake gallery. This gallery makes a total of four ninety-degree turns as it runs from one side of the house to the other. The main entrance of the house is marked by an oeil-de-boeuf gable supported by two enormous brackets. Each of the Eastlake gallery columns is surmounted by a rounder bracket ornamented with pateras.The complex roof-line consist of central pyramid with gabled wings coming off all four sides. Each of the principal gables is ornamented with imbricated shingles. At one time they also featured a large oculus and decorative verge boards, but they were removed in the 1930s. Exterior features include the oculus windows at the basement level, the window and door cornices, and shutters, most of which are original to the 1890 period. Also at about that time part of the hall was enlarged to form a living room and small rear and side extensions were built.
The layout of inside the plantation was a preliminary archaeological reconnaissance and assessment provided by Richard C. Beavers in August 1983.
The library is the part of the house that was originally a shotgun house with a side hall. It was joined together by two other small houses to form the one structure that is the shape of an off-centered cross. The style of the library is a Victorian style. The living room has a Victorian settee, with its paneled walls, hard pine floors, and deep molded baseboards. Inside the room is a paneled chimney and mantle. The small guest bedroom was turned into a connection bathroom serving the two guest bedrooms on the west wing of the house. Mr. Plater’s office was once a porch and was later enclosed as an office, from the window you can see the bell stand upon which are mounted three bells that are important to the history of the Acadia Plantation.
The dining room is a formal dining room built as a connecting wing between the front part of the house and small two-room house owned by Mrs. Bowie. The fireplace has a paneled chimney breast, with slender ionic columns. The kitchen and breakfast room was at one time a pantry and later converted to an informal dining room. This room holds a New England style appearance. The kitchen has been remodeled over the years. Servant’s peep hold was provided on the dining room door to prevent accidents and watch for signals when their attention was needed in the dining room. The boys room is another of the single houses joined to form a greater part of the room. The back porch is a view of the cisterns which were the main water supply to the house. The small house to the right was where the cooks live and other buildings included a carriage shed, stable, hen house, and so on. Further back stood the Acadia Sugar Factory, the boarding house, blacksmith shop, barn, approximately 70 cabins of the Acadia quarters, and finally sugar cane stretching as far as the eye can see. Today, much of what was, is no longer. There are not so many hands needed in today’s sugar cane industry, so dominated it is by machines, each doing the work of fieldworkers. The old sugar cane industry is no more, but it is and was so much a part of the heritage at Acadia.
Furniture and collections
The furniture and collections inside the plantation was a preliminary archaeological reconnaissance and assessment provided by Richard C. Beavers in August 1983.
In the library is a portrait of Edward George Washington Butler hanging on the wall. He was David Plater’s great-great grandfather from Iberville Parish. Several pieces of furniture found in the library and throughout the house were passed down to the family from relatives. Some of these items include corner chair called a roundabout, a set of Staffordshire dogs on the shelves in the library, two tables that flank the front windows, a sofa with a spindle-back settee of the 1810 era, and a rocker called a comb-back Windsor constructed of pine.
A bow-front chest and desk, made of Hepplewhite from New England sits in the corner of the living room. On the mantle is an oil painting of Mrs. Thomas Plater, née Mary Louise Bugg, Mr. Plater, and Jr.’s grandmother. Several chairs, spread about the room, date to the time the Prices occupied the house. Against the wall is a three-tier table constructed of Chippendale, with claw feet. In the guest bedroom is a massive armoire and swan-neck cradle, a canopy bed made maple from the Sheraton style. Near the mantle is a drop-leaf desk made of pine. In the front of the fireplace is a Windsor rocker. On the mantel sits blue vases which were gifts from Mrs. Price from her sister, Mary Susan Gay Butler. The master bedroom in the corner nearby is a highboy chest that belonged to Plater ancestors of the 1700s. Near the bed stands a sewing table which still holds wooden spools. On the chimney, and front wall hangs Dawson Watson paintings
In Mr. Plater’s office several cane-seat captain’s chairs from the plantation furniture that has survived the years. A map desk which is equipped with a lighted display surface that enhances the details on maps. Over the window is a prize possession of a replica of the Bowie knife. In the dining room on the west wall near the door hangs a portrait of Edward J. Gay. To the right of the fireplace hangs a portrait of his wife, Lavinia Hynes Gay. On the back wall is Nellie Curtis Lewis, granddaughter of Martha Washington. Above the fireplace is a painting of Lord Byron. The furniture in this room is the finest antiques in the house. Against the wall is a Maryland sideboard, Sheraton in style. A corner cabinet nearby is made of mahogany and pine. It was 18th century Chippendale and comes from the estate of Lord Thomas Fairfax of Virginia. The dining table is designed from two card tables and is Victorian mahogany. The rug on which the dining table and chairs is a turn of the century one.
In the kitchen and breakfast area, most of the furniture originated from New England. Against the back wall is a dresser with knife slots along the front edge of the shelves. On the left is antique clocks, below on the old pastry table and a child’s tow wood-burning stove. One the east wall are two Clementine Hunter paintings entitled “The Nativity-Mary with child” and “Washday”. On the east wall is a very old table with a drawing by David and Sheela Plater’s son, Chris. In the boy’s room is a twin four-poster bed that belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Plater’s mother. A chest in the corner near the door is from the 1820s. A print over the mantle is of George and Martha Washington entitled “Courtship. The furniture in the guest bedroom is all striped maple, late eighteenth century. The bed is turned wood post and broken scroll pediment of the headboard. A canopy attached to four post. Near the bed on the right, a small wash stand that is now used as a bed-side table. In the corner is a drop-leaf desk on which are two carved boats of Nicaraguan mahogany. Above the desk and hanging from picture frame molding is an old map of the Mississippi River. A painting by the impressionist Jean Baptiste Corot hangs above a bookcase. Over the fireplace is another Dawson Watson painting depicting a haystack in a field.The blue vases on the mantle were made in Italy, and Windsor chair sits near the bed.
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana
- National Register of Historic Places portal
- Louisiana portal