Louisiana, continued…

This post will contain photos of Melrose Plantation. 🙂  I may try to see what I can find in the way of information about it.

The main house.

From the Cane River Heritage website:

The history of Melrose is a remarkable story that weaves together a series of fascinating people and events. The story begins with Marie Therese Coincoin, the matriarch of the Isle Brevelle Creole community who was born a slave in 1742. Coincoin, whose parents were part of the first generation of enslaved Africans brought to Louisiana, was a resourceful and intelligent woman who eventually attained freedom and prosperity for herself and her children. She bore fourteen children, ten of them fathered by a French merchant named Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer, who eventually bought her freedom and gave her property on the Red River. Between 1794 and 1803, Coincoin and her sons received a number of land grants, amassed holdings of land and slaves, and the Metoyers became one of the wealthiest families of color in the nation.An important part of this emerging empire was Yucca Plantation, now known as Melrose. Records indicate that Coincoin’s son Louis Metoyer was deeded the property in 1796. Yucca House was probably built around 1796; it remained the largest domicile on the plantation until 1833, when Louis Metoyer built the big house now known as Melrose. The Metoyer family continued to own the plantation until 1847.

Henry and Hypolite Hertzog then owned the property until 1881. Three years later the property came into the Henry family, ushering in the next phase of its development. The Henry years at Melrose revolve around Cammie Garrett Henry, a remarkable and energetic woman who transformed Melrose into a haven for artists and writers. When she and her husband, John Hampton, moved into Melrose in 1898, Mrs. Henry devoted her time and energies to restoring the plantation and preserving its history and structures. Over time, Mrs. Henry sponsored several writers at Melrose, including Rachel Field, Roark Bradford, Francois Mignon, and Lyle Saxon. It was at Melrose that Saxon wrote his best known novel Children of Strangers, which portrays the Cane River area.

Melrose also spawned the artistic achievements of Clementine Hunter, one of the South’s foremost primitive artists. Clementine, once a field hand and then a cook at Melrose, came into contact with artists hosted by Mrs. Henry, such as Alberta Kinsey. She began to record the people, life, and scenes of Cane River in her bright primitive style and soon attracted the attention of a number of collectors. Clementine’s national recognition was evidenced by exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the New Orleans Museum of Art before her death in 1988 at age 101. Her colorful murals surround the second story of the African House, a mushroom-shaped structure built about 1800, possibly as a storehouse.

Ownership of Melrose passed to the Henry’s son in the 1940s, and the plantation was not inhabited for more than two decades. In 1971, Southdown Land Company purchased the property and donated the house and six acres of surrounding land and outbuildings to the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN). APHN maintains and interprets the site, currently the most visited heritage attraction in the Cane River National Heritage Area.

Here are some photos I took of the other buildings that the website mentions were designed and built by African Americans.


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