Date of Visit

2023




 
United States


St. Francisville


Rosedown Plantation





Summary

Rosedown Plantation was acquired by Daniel Turnbull from the 1820s through the 1840s and became one of the foremost cotton plantations.  The house was built in 1834/35 and many of its original furnishings are displayed in the house today. The property was placed on the National Listing of Historic Landmarks in 2005.



The land that forms the Rosedown Plantation was acquired by Daniel Turnbull from the 1820s through the 1840s. Before the Civil War, Turnbull was one of the richest men in the country, and he built up the plantation to comprise of approximately 3,450 acres, the majority of which was planted in cotton.

Construction on the main house began in November 1834 and was completed by May 1835.  Most of the furnishings were acquired in the North and imported from Europe. About 90% of the furnishings obtained by the Turnbulls are still displayed at the Rosedown house.

Rosedown is also known for its formal gardens, which expanded out from the house and developed over the years, eventually covering approximately 28 acres.  



These were the province of Martha Turnbull who was involved in every detail and was influenced by the great formal gardens of France and Italy, where the Turnbulls spent their honeymoon.  

The plantationsí main crop was cotton although it did contain some timber, which was also profitable. To look after the plantation, at its peak, it had as many as 450 slaves.

In 1956 it was purchased by Milton Underwood and his wife, who over the next 8 years spent around $10m on restoration, it was opened to the public in 1964.

In 2000 it was purchased by the Louisiana Office of State Parks. 

Today the plantation consists of 371 acres, the house with its historic gardens, and an additional 13 buildings. State Parks staff and volunteers are involved with the conservation and maintenance of 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.

Constructed of cypress and cedar wood in a transitional Federal-Greek Revival style, the two-story house has one-story side wings, which were added on each side in 1845. The westward facing faÁade consists of five bays, with a two-story gallery with a balustrade running along the front and sides. These incorporate smooth Doric columns on each floor.  At the centre on each floor is an elliptical arch doorway that contains six horizontal panels.

On entry, the entrance hall is decorated with block-printed wallpaper. 


Leading off the entrance are the formal rooms. To the right of the entry is the parlor where guests are received and initially entertained. 


The parlor contains a fireplace screen embroidered by Martha Washington, the wife of the first president of the United States, George Washington.


In the dining room, over the table is a Punkah. This is a fan, which was worked by one of the slave children. Displayed on the table are some of the silver and porcelain obtained by Martha. Paintings of the family are displayed on the walls. Under the windows are two little doors which can be opened to create a doorway. If they and the front door are also opened, a breeze is created running through the house. 



Next to the dining room is the Butlerís Pantry where food is delivered from the kitchen prior to serving.



In the corner of the butlerís pantry is the slave's staircase, as slaves were not allowed to use the main stairway.


Following dinner, guests may retire to the music room which is situated across the entrance hall from the parlor. His contains the Chickering Square Grand piano acquired in 1841.


Alternatively, the Gentlemen may adjourn to the gentlemanís room to drink, play cards, and smoke cigars.


Also to be seen is the library that was used as an office by Daniel Turnbull to run the plantation,


Martha Turnbull office can also be seen where she organised the gardens.



Located in the entrance hall is an elliptical mahogany staircase leading to the family bedrooms.


In one of the bedrooms is the family cradle, which is one of the oldest pieces in the house.

Next to this is the children's bedroom.


The north wing houses a guest bedroom. 


This has an en-suite bathroom that features an early form of a shower supplied with rainwater from a cistern on the roof, something that wasnít common in American homes until the late 1880s.  The original tub, incidentally, was much larger than the one displayed today.


A number of buildings can be found at the rear of the main house. These include the kitchen.


This in fact was divided into two halves, one being the kitchen and the other half the laundry room.  This building has been moved a couple of times, firstly closer to the house and then back to its original location.


Also found at the back is the milk shed where milk and other perishables were stored. The low roof acts to keep the sun off the walls of the building.


It also includes accommodation for a doctor brought on to the plantation following the death of the Turnbullís youngest son. He died of yellow fever when he was seven years old. 

There are also a number of buildings related specifically to the management and upkeep of the gardens. One example of this is the garden barn where the larger pieces of garden equipment were stored.






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              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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