Whitney Plantation

If you’re visiting New Orleans and have access to a car, don’t miss the Whitney Plantation on River Road. It’s a powerful, beautiful place – the only plantation museum in the U.S. that focuses on slavery.

The owner, a retired lawyer who has been working on this project for more than a decade, is friendly,  sincere, and obviously deeply moved by the history of the place. When I was there he happened to be with a journalist at the memorial for children who died on the plantation, and as he talked about the names and the statue that commemorates them I thought he might cry. (We were all in various stages of teariness, it was so moving.) And he’s down to earth – he helped my friend Catherine in the parking lot when her car door jammed.

The visit was devastating and inspiring at the same time. I’m grateful for people like this man who has spent years of his life and much of his personal savings to restore the plantation so that future generations can understand this terrible era in American history.

Whitney Plantation

The walkway to the front door of the main house.

Whitney Plantation

A four-poster bed in one of the bedrooms of the main house.

Whitney Plantation

I loved these metal bowls used in sugar cane production. Those are slave quarters in the background.

Whitney Plantation

These statues of slave children were all around the plantation. Their slumped shoulders and sad expressions said it all.

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  1. Emilie Vardaman May 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    Wow! Glad this man has taken on this important project. Will visit when I get back to New Orleans one day.
    Emilie Vardaman recently posted…The GarlandMy Profile

    • deonne May 14, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

      Emilie – It’s a must-see, an ambitious and important project.

  2. Martha May 14, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    In 1954 when I was 13 yrs old, I visited the plantation and home of a very famous person . Back then you could walk around the house and grounds at will, and in the back of the house were the slave quarters. My grandma had bigger chicken coops on their farm than these slave quarters. And the place was owned by someone who was known to be kind to his slaves.

    I went back about 10 years later and the back of that house was cleared out and all the coops were long gone! I’ve seen other plantations that had slave houses that looked like rustic cabins and I’ll bet any amount of money no one but maybe the house slaves lived in one of them. It’s such a shameful part of our history, but only one shameful part out of many.

    • deonne May 14, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

      Martha – It sounds like that visit made a real impression on you. I visited a plantation in Tennessee a few years ago and the slaves were barely mentioned. When they were, the guide made it sound as if they were content, settled into their “home” on the plantation. I persistently asked questions about the slaves’ experience, but was always redirected. The tour guide was simply doing what he was told to do, I’m guessing, but still, the romanticizing of that terrible era is incredible to me.

  3. ron hagg May 15, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    Sounds like a very moving experience. Thanks for sharing.

    • deonne May 15, 2015 at 8:29 am #

      Ron – It definitely was. I’m still thinking about it.

  4. Sherry in MT May 18, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    That truly sounds like a historic place I would love to see and probably doesn’t get as much attention as it should! So glad you shared it with us. The sugar cane bowls shot is AMAZING as well.
    Sherry in MT recently posted…Lee Metcalf Wildlife RefugeMy Profile

    • deonne May 18, 2015 at 10:09 am #

      Sherry – It just opened to the public last year, so I’m hoping the word will get out about it. It’s truly a remarkable achievement and important learning experience. I’m so glad you like that sugar cane bowls shot! I couldn’t get enough of them.

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