SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: Exploring one of the oldest homes in Baton Rouge, Magnolia Mound Plantation

SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: Magnolia Mound

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Very few people know the history of a particular old, French Creole house, even though they may pass by it daily.

"This is like a hidden jewel. We get people from Baton Rouge that come here all the time and say, 'I didn't realize this place was here,'" said Jeanette Brock, a tour guide at Magnolia Mound.

Magnolia Mound was built in 1791.
Magnolia Mound was built in 1791. (Source: WAFB)

Magnolia Mound Plantation is one of the oldest houses in Baton Rouge. The Creole vernacular architecture style home sits on a natural ridge near the Mississippi River. The porch wraps around the entire home for air circulation.

“People lived in this house until the 1960s, and then it was abandoned for about six or seven years, and that’s when BREC bought it in 1966. They opened to the public in 1975,” said Brock.

The Spanish Land Grant for the property was acquired in 1786. The home itself was built in 1791, in the early colonial period, by John Joyce. He died in a boating accident years after it was built.

“His wife, Constance, inherited everything. A few years later, she married a french man named Armand Duplantier. He was a younger son in France, so he came over here to make his fortune,” said Brock.

The plantation does have a dark history involving slavery though. It started off as an indigo and tobacco plantation, but the indigo processing was making the slaves sick, so then it became a sugarcane plantation.

“Early 1800s, everybody from here on down to New Orleans was growing sugarcane because that’s where all the money was,” Brock said.

The Duplantiers had 11 children who lived in the home; some were from previous marriages.

“This side would’ve probably been a boys’ room, the other side a girls’ room. And you probably would’ve had three or four little boys sleeping in the bed. They might’ve had a trundle bed, but children didn’t usually have their own beds in those days,” said Brock.

Mosquito nets hang along the exposed square beams with pegs that hold the walls together.

Mosquito nets hand from the ceilings over the beds in Magnolia Mound.
Mosquito nets hand from the ceilings over the beds in Magnolia Mound. (Source: WAFB)

“The insulation in here is called bousillage. It’s a mixture of treated Spanish moss and mud,” Brock said.

The furniture inside the home is not original, but real antiques from that time period show how the home might’ve been decorated. In the living room, you’ll find a wrap around mantle with a double fireplace and high ceilings for air ventilation.

The property was first used as an indigo and tobacco plantation, but later became a sugarcane plantation.
The property was first used as an indigo and tobacco plantation, but later became a sugarcane plantation. (Source: WAFB)

“We do have evidence that Andrew Jackson came here, several different soirées they had for him. He was the hero of the Battle of New Orelans,” said Brock.

There’s more to see inside the parents’ bedroom.

“The christening gown would be for boys and girls to be baptized on. In the back, you have a pitcher and bowl. That would be a lavatory to wash up,” Brock explained.

That’s all part of the original home; the rest was added on from the porch. Stairs were not put in a home back then because it blocked air circulation.

And in the dining room...

“The big meal for them was in the middle of the day. They would eat leftovers for supper usually, unless they had company coming over, then the cook would have to make something else for supper.”

The home features replica furniture to mimic the style of the times.
The home features replica furniture to mimic the style of the times. (Source: WAFB)

Inside the home are paintings of some of the earliest images of Baton Rouge. A punka sits above the table to push flies off the food while eating. There’s also a double sided fireplace shared with a room that probably would’ve served as a home office.

Outside, there's a replica of what would have been an outdoor kitchen, where food would've been prepared.

Magnolia Mound is a piece of history in the Capital City, open to anyone wanting to see a glimpse into the past.

Visitors can take their own tour inside the old plantation. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Click here for more information about Magnolia Mound.

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