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In the 19th century, according to Louisiana author Stanley C. Arthur, “with the coming of summer, planters with their wives and children flocked into the city from the countryside, all looking for culture.” Everyone knows the story of how plantation mistress Lucy Pirrie of Oakley found gifted artist/naturalist John James Audubon down on his luck . . . Full Story
When the West Feliciana Parish Police Jury in mid-July approved a bid of $2.7 million to construct a new parish library on a wonderfully hilly wooded lot, oldtimers considered it a natural progression in an area that has traditionally been devoted to the literary arts. Indeed, St. Francisville, today the refuge for several published authors and retired university literature professors, had one of the state’s earliest public libraries. Historian Elisabeth Dart wrote that the state’s second oldest library was established in St. Francisville by 1812, and the Silver Anniversary Edition of the local newspaper, the True Democrat, commended the town for its public library as early as 1828.
As Louisiana has become the country’s third busiest state for movie and television production, just behind California and New York according to figures cited by writer Timothy Boone, so St. Francisville has become one of the film industry’s most popular locations. Hollywood, in other words, has discovered what residents have known for a long time: the St. Francisville area has something for everyone.
As communities across the country mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the observance in the quaint little rivertown of St. Francisville, LA, will not celebrate a victory in battle or commemorate a heart-wrenching defeat. Rather, St. Francisville’s observation of events 150 years past preserves a moment of civility in the midst of a bloody war, and the bonds of brotherhood that proved stronger even than the divisiveness of a bitter civil conflict pitting brother against brother. St. Francisville’s observance June 7, 8 and 9th is called The Day The War Stopped, and that is exactly what happened, at least for a little while.
Like every clever, creative kid who has ever felt stifled and suffocated by the confines of a small town, Rod Dreher couldn’t wait to hightail it to the big city from tiny St. Francisville (population maybe 1700, give or take a few) and the even tinier neighboring Starhill community where his family lived. A couple of years away at the state high school for gifted students, followed by college and high-profile careers in print from D.C. and Dallas to Miami, from New York and a ringside seat for 9-11 to Philadelphia, provided the distance and differing perspective to more fully appreciate what he had left behind.
The forty-second annual Audubon Pilgrimage March 15, 16 and 17, 2013, celebrates a southern spring in St. Francisville, the glorious garden spot of Louisiana’s English Plantation Country. For over four decades the sponsoring West Feliciana Historical Society has thrown open the doors of significant historic structures to commemorate artist-naturalist John James Audubon’s stay as he painted a number of his famous bird folios and tutored young Eliza Pirrie of Oakley.
In 1831 the Encyclopaedia Americana called St. Francisville and the surrounding District of Nueva Feliciana “the garden of Louisiana,” and always it was so. Across the verdant hills and well-watered forests Mother Nature spared no effort in strewing a wonderful wealth of wildflowers to brighten this garden spot long before the earliest settlers arrived. The first cultivated gardens were practical affairs of vegetables and herbs, with greenhouses to extend growing seasons to feed the early families as well as their livestock. Once these planter families prospered from cash crops of indigo, cotton and sugarcane, they could turn their attention from the pragmatic to..
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