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Friends in St. Francisville, La. Blog
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The following press releases are arranged by the newest on top to the oldest on the bottom.  Some articles are from prior years.  While the dates are not representative of the current year the information is still similar.
Gateway to the Hills
By Anne Butler

 

trailsSt. Francisville for many years has been justly famous as the heart of Louisiana’s historic English plantation country, but as changing tourism demographics attract younger and more active visitors, the little rivertown has lately become known as the Gateway to the Hills. And winter, with snakes hibernating and poison ivy no longer a problem, plus fallen leaves opening up clear vistas not seen in the tangled overgrowth of summer, is the ideal time to take advantage of all the recreational opportunities offered throughout the Tunica Hills.

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Gateway to the Hills
By Anne Butler

 

Christmas LightsThere’s just something special about small-town Christmas shopping, with welcoming shopkeeps, unique settings with plenty of character, and one-of-a-kind inventory, combining to make the experience enjoyable, as opposed to the dreaded harried hurried crush of big-box stores. And St. Francisville’s wonderfully varied boutique shops and galleries deliver all that in spades, especially during the ever-popular Christmas in the Country. This year set for December 4, 5 and 6th, the safe, family-oriented weekend is crammed full of spectacular seasonal decorations, musical entertainment throughout the National Register-listed downtown, breakfast with Santa and a colorful parade themed “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” caroling and window-peeping, plus contemporary house tours and even a symphony concert.

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Thoughts of Thanksgiving in St. Francisville, LA.
By Anne Butler

 

Miss EmilyThanksgiving turns our thoughts backward, back to the 1620s First Thanksgiving celebrated by Plymouth pilgrims with the Native Americans who taught them survival skills, back to our heritage and history, back to “Over the River and Through the Wood, To Grandmother’s House We Go.” These days, Grandma might just as well be on a skiing trip to her condo in Colorado instead of laboring over a hot oven roasting turkey for the multitudes, and anyway, the original poem penned by Lydia Maria Child said we were going to Grandfather’s House. And while Ol’ Man River keeps on rolling, rolling, rolling in timeless fashion past St. Francisville, we’re missing two of the icons of a trip over the waters. The ferryboat we rode for a century or so has been replaced by a grand new bridge. And Miss Emily, ah, we miss Miss Emily.

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St. Francisville Yellow Leaves
By Anne Butler
Photos from Ava Barrett

 

mitch evans art1In just about the only part of south Louisiana whose woodlands experience an explosion of autumn coloring as frosts turn leaves brilliant reds and yellows and oranges, it is only fitting that one of the most popular area celebrations is called the Yellow Leaf Arts Festival.

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Bayou Sara Kayak Rental revives access to St. Francisville creek
By Anne Butler
Photos from Ava Barrett

 

Bayou Sara

Flatboaters in the late 1700s used to pull into the still waters of Bayou Sara creek where it emptied into the Mississippi River to get out of the river’s strong current and spend a peaceful night on the way to New Orleans. Often these same boatmen also stopped there on their walk back up the river to wherever they started their journey; their boats, with no engine power, could hardly travel upriver against the current, so the flatboats were broken up and sold for lumber, setting the crew afoot as they headed for home.

And so a little shantytown sprang up and took its name from the creek, . . . .

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St. Francisville’s Beautiful Oak-Shaded Parker Park
By Anne Butler

           2015 Gala Few of the folks who enjoy community festivals and get-togethers on the landscaped grounds of beautiful Parker Park in historic downtown St. Francisville stop to think of the history of that particular property, but if these oaks could talk!
In 1870 Sara Mulholland Flower sold her 40-arpent property called Magnolia Glen, located right in the heart of town where the well-travelled roads leading from Woodville, Baton Rouge and Bayou Sara converged. The buyer was a young dentist from New York, Dennison Stocking, who had moved to Pointe Coupee as a 22-year-old, served four years in the Confederate army, then moved across the river to St. Francisville. There he set up his dental chair in one room of the old Magnolia Glen house and advertised that he would attend all calls on the coast (meaning the Mississippi River) from New Orleans to Natchez, as well as “the back country when accessible with a buggy.”

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Come Smooch-A-Pooch in St. Francisville
By Anne Butler
Photos by Darlene Reeves

           2015 Gala “All you need is love” say the promotional posters, but you’d better bring your credit cards too, because the popular WAGS AND WHISKERS GALA Saturday, August 1, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Hemingbough just south of St. Francisville, is the major fundraiser for the West Feliciana Animal Humane Society and the “Bo” Bryant Animal Shelter.

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Walker Percy Weekend a big ol’ block party in downtown St. Francisville, LA
By Anne Butler
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The inaugural Walker Percy Weekend was so successful last year that they’re holding a second annual one this June 5, 6 and 7 in St. Francisville, LA, with promises of just as much fun---a memorable celebration of the acclaimed novelist’s life and work with good food, craft beer and bourbon, boiled crawfish, live music and a great time discussing books and southern culture under the moss-hung live oaks. Lectures and panel discussions, readings and films, progressive front-porch bourbon sipping, twilight cocktails in the ruins garden of one former Percy plantation home and other guided tours of area sites readers of Percy’s works will recognize.  Full Story
The Day The War Stopped in  St. Francisville, LA
By Anne Butler
day the war stopped
The bonds of brotherhood, those Masonic ties that bind stronger than anything on the outside, saved many a plantation house in south Louisiana during the Civil War---among them, Chretien Point Plantation in Sunset, where ailing elderly Hypolite Landry III drug himself from his sickbed onto the upper gallery and flashed the sign that made General Nathaniel Banks recall the Yankee troops about to destroy the home; and Madewood near Thibodaux, where widowed Eliza Pugh, mother of 15 children, saved the plantation from destruction by appealing to the Union general’s Masonic ties to her late husband. Full Story
Plant It and They Will Come: Welcoming the Monarchs back to St. Francisville
By Anne Butler

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"Monarch, Chrysalis and Caterpiller on Ageratum" painting by Murrell Butler
Long known as the Garden Spot of Louisiana, its location where the rugged Tunica Hills skirt the Mississippi River gives the St. Francisville area diversified flora and fauna found nowhere else in south Louisiana. The steep hills and deep cool hollows harbor rare ferns, ginseng, and even chipmunks, while the rich soil and long growing seasons have produced magnificent landscapes and formal gardens, many full of heirloom plantings dating from the 19th century. The abundant waterways and unspoiled forests still attract much the same prolific birdlife, both resident and migratory, that so impressed the artist Audubon when he first stepped off the steamboat at Bayou Sara landing in 1821.



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Andrew Jackson Slept Here: Romantic GetAways in St. Francisville, LA

BY Anne Butler

RetreatThe forty-fourth annual Audubon Pilgrimage March 20, 21 and 22, 2015, 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 studies and tutored the daughter of Oakley Plantation’s Pirrie family, beautiful young Eliza. This year’s featured homes include three country plantations and one historic townhouse, plus two significant state historic sites.


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Writers and Readers Symposium Coming Soon to St. Francisville, LA

BY Anne Butler

libraryAs 2015 dawns, St. Francisville steps into the future with a number of improvements, from the grand new library and prospects of a commodious new hospital to several much anticipated new restaurants and shops. But location scouts have long appreciated the little town’s ability to step BACK in time, the many preserved historic structures making it possible to throw some dirt on the streets and…voila!...it’s the 19th century.


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St. Francisville’s Christmas in the Country Heralds the Holiday Season

BY Anne Butler

santa_dance-usSanta brought St. Francisville, LA, an early Christmas gift with its inclusion on a prestigious popularity list for regional travelers, and the little rivertown will proudly show off its assets as it welcomes visitors to Christmas in the Country December 5, 6 and 7th.


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Farewell to St. Francisville’s True Democrat and Welcome to The Advocate

BY Anne Butler

Democrat BuildingChange, of course, is inevitable, and the balance between progress and preservation is a delicate one. A few years back, St. Francisville residents said farewell to the ferry system that had transported generations across the Mississippi River, their reluctance assuaged in part by the beautiful new cable-stayed bridge that was certainly more reliable.
Now, the little town says good-bye to its local newspaper, The Democrat, which has preserved in print the comings and goings, the happenings and heartaches of this little town in an up-close and personal way that may be difficult to match by the big newspaper conglomerate that has absorbed a number of small regional publications. Certainly new resources will provide opportunities unheard of in the tiny two-man office of The Democrat, but lost may be an intimacy of connection that will be hard to replace.

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October in St. Francisville Brings Out Colorful Leaves…and Colorful Characters

BY Anne Butler

Angola RodeoHollywood veteran and ageless beauty Andie MacDowell was recently quoted as saying Southern people are crazy and she’s thankful for having grown up as part of that, recognizing the richness a little local color and a lot of local characters can add to life. If ever there were a living breathing example of that, it’s little St. Francisville, Louisiana, where eccentricity is not just tolerated but enthusiastically embraced.


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Historic Courthouse Clock Marks Passage of Time in St. Francisville, LA

BY Anne Butler

clock-faceEvery little parish seat over the years has had its iconic courthouse, some more elaborate than others but all as fancy as times could afford, and most were topped with a tower or cupola boasting an enormous, often multi-faced clock. The deep tones, the carillon calls, the clanging and banging of these clocks marked the passage of the minutes of their lives for downtown residents, chiming the hours in anticipation of happy occasions and solemn events alike. One haunted historic courthouse clock in Texas tolled away the hours left of life for a condemned prisoner in the nearby jail; just prior to his execution he cursed the clock, which never again kept accurate time and was repeatedly stuck by lightning.


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A CENTURY OF SERVICE IN ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA

BY Anne Butler

in baton rougeHe’s in his 80s now, but it’s an absolute miracle Mr. Russell Daniel survived his childhood. Born in 1928, he was a tiny tot when he ran into the arc of a blade wielded by his grandfather, Robert Clifford Brasseaux, who was chopping on a tree with a double-bitted axe. The gash on the left side of young Russell’s face required a number of stitches to close. And then, still a child, he fell out of a tree and nearly killed himself.
Today this white-haired, soft-spoken man, called by his sister-in-law “a real old-time southern gentleman,” is semi-retired from the family gas distributorship, which was recently officially recognized for a full century of service to the community, its provision of services exemplary and its devotion to its customers noteworthy. “Semi-retired,” of course, means that he only goes into the office in the mornings, after breakfasting with buddies at a local café, and then again in the afternoons, just to help his son, you know.


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ST. FRANCISVILLE IS FOR THE BIRDS
by Anne Butler

Calling St. Francisville “for the birds” is hardly derogatory. In St. Francisville, it’s ALL about the birds, and it always has been, even since artist-naturalist John James Audubon arrived in the summer of 1821 and was spellbound by the lush landscape and richness of the birdlife. He painted several dozen of his famous bird studies right in the St. Francisville area, and left such an indelible stamp on the area that everywhere you look, there’s some tribute to the artist: the wonderful new Audubon Library, shiny cable-stayed Audubon Bridge over the Mississippi River, cozy little Audubon Café, even the ever-popular Audubon Liquor Store.

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Continuing Ed in St. Francisville
by Anne Butler

OLLI by D. ReevesThe Boomer Generation, just reaching retirement age in remarkably good physical and mental shape, is not surrendering to old age without a fight. Instead, they are running marathons and racing bikes, beginning new careers and travelling to all corners of the globe. The rocking chairs on the porches of their mountain chalets are strictly for après ski, and when they consider relocating in their retirement years, lifestyle enhancements are even more important than economic opportunities.

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Above articles are available for press/promotional use only. High resolution photographs to accompany these articles are available by request. Contact Patrick Walsh by EMAIL or calling (800) 488-6502

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