oak alley plantation


Oak Alley Plantation

Location: St. James Parish, LA
Constructed: 1837

History: Sometime in the early 1700's, probably a few years before the 1718 founding of New Orleans as the colonial seat of government, a French settler selected this site for the fulfillment of his aspirations. It was he who planted the twenty-eight live oak trees in two rows of fourteen each, eighty feet apart, to form an avenue of trees, a quarter mile in length leading to the Mississippi River.

In the early 1830's, Jacques Telesphore Roman, a wealthy Creole sugar planter from the French Quarter in New Orleans met and courted Celina Pilie, whose prominent family lived around the corner on Royal Street. They were married in June of 1834. As a wedding gift for his bride, Jacques purchased from his brother-in-law, Valcour Aime, a plantation in St. James Parish that river boat captains would later dub "Oak Alley", due to an alley of quite stately live oak trees leading to the river. Construction was begun on the Greek-revival style mansion in 1837, the most notable feature being the twenty-eight classic columns surrounding the house. In 1839, the home was complete, with improvements and additions continuing until 1841. Celina Roman proudly christened her new home "Bon Sejour" (pleasant sojourns).

The Roman family resided at Oak Alley throughout the Civil War. Jacques had died in 1848, a victim of tuberculosis, and so was spared the overwhelming social and political turmoil resulting from the War and Reconstruction. At length, in 1866, Henri, the only surviving Roman son, was forced to sell the plantation and all but their most personal belongings at auction for a mere $32,800.00, thus ending 30 years of joys and sorrows at Oak Alley.

Associated Surnames: Roman

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Description of Associated Architecture