ROSEDOWN STATE HISTORIC SITE was built in 1834 by Daniel Turnbull and his wife Martha Barrow, who on their European wedding trip gleaned the inspiration for the 27 acres of formal gardens surrounding the stately, double-galleried house. Approached by a magnificent allee of enormous live oaks, Rosedown is now a National Historic Landmark.
OAKLEY, since 1947 the centerpiece of Audubon State Historic Site, is a splendid early 19th-century three-story structure exhibiting West Indies influences like its jalousied galleries. Here John James Audubon in 1821 tutored the beautiful young daughter of the Pirrie family, with his afternoons free to roam the woods and collect bird specimens to paint.
THE MYRTLES, a raised English cottage begun in the late 1790s by Judge David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Rebellion, was enlarged throughout the 19th century. The long front gallery is graced with grape-cluster wrought iron, and inside rooms are formalized with elaborate plaster friezework and marble mantels in the twin parlors.
CATALPA, center of a plantation established by William J. Fort in the opening years of the 19th century, is reached by an elliptical oak alley considered the only one of its kind in the state. Its occupants descend from the Forts as well as the families of Rosedown and Oakley Plantations, and it is filled with superb family treasures.
THE COTTAGE PLANTATION was established in 1810 by Judge Thomas Butler, the area’s first judge and later congressman. A simple rambling early house, it is surrounded by the area’s most complete collection of original outbuildings, giving visitors a feel for how the early plantation complexes operated.
GREENWOOD PLANTATION was a 12,000-acre 19th-century plantation growing cotton and sugar cane centered by a home constructed in the 1830s and called the South’s most perfect example of Greek Revival architecture, 100 square feet encircled by 28 towering Doric columns of slave-made brick. It burned in 1960 and was painstakingly recreated a decade later.
AFTON VILLA GARDENS preserve the landscaping that set off what looked like a European French Gothic castle constructed in 1848 to incorporate a simpler home built in 1820 by Bartholomew Barrow. After the house burned in 1963, the terraced grounds and gardens were resurrected into a glorious setting of thousands of flowering bulbs and imported marble statuary, plus the incredible approach avenue lined with ancient live oaks and Pride of Afton azaleas.
All along the Mississippi River corridor, after the Civil War most mercantile establishments were owned by Jewish immigrants escaping persecution in Germany. Beginning as pushcart peddlers, many grew wealthy providing the practicalities and underpinnings for the cotton empire, helping with post-Civil War recovery by providing credit for impoverished planters, and prospering sufficiently to participate in significant philanthropies like the building of the first public school in St. Francisville. In 1903 more than 20 such families came together to establish Temple Sinai. Now the Freyhan Foundation has restored the temple and is beginning restoration of the Freyhan School as a community cultural center overlooking the Mississippi River, thus paying tribute to the important contributions of these early Jewish residents.