Art Decor

Houmas House & Garden Tour in LA: Part 1 The Gardens

Sitting on a curve of the Mississippi River, the Houmas House and Gardens dates back 240 years. This iconic sugar cane plantation has seen a lot of history over the years, so join me on this tour of this stunning Classical Revival house that is still there on the grounds. The plantation is left with 38 acres, down from the hundreds of acres that it started with. The Sugar Cane barons of the 18th century lived along the river and there were hundreds of plantations. The Houmas House is named after the Houmas indians who were natives of the area back in the 1700’s, when this land was settled. You can read all about the history of Houmas House on the History page of their website.

The last time I visited a plantation in Louisiana was Oak Alley in 2015 with my sister. We enjoyed that tour too, although it did bring out some critical folks who thought it appalling that I would be sharing a plantation house and some thought that I was too flippant and insensitive with my post. So I will open this post up with this. Slavery was a horrific and tragic part of Southern history and the plantations that dot the Mississippi River in Louisiana were some of the biggest offenders. So I’m not glorifying slavery at all, but rather looking thoughtfully at a beautiful home and garden plantation house that does have a rich history, with slavery a big part of that history. The website does mention 550 slaves at Houmas House during slavery days and before the Civil War.

This particular Antebellum plantation house doesn’t cover slavery as much as some of the other houses in Louisiana. Oak Alley where I visited before, has rebuilt the slave cabins that once were part of the plantation grounds. They reverently share memorabilia and artifacts in these cabins, telling the stories of the slaves that once lived there. I looked up some critical reviews of the plantation and found this one where someone was wondering why Houmas House didn’t mention slavery more often. The reply back from Houmas House on Trip Advisor was very well stated and in my opinion, a good explanation of why they do not make slavery more prominent in their tours.  I appreciated what they said, there are many other plantations you can visit where slavery is covered more fully in a reverent manner, and is much more a part of the tours. He mentioned that Houmas House features the lifestyles of the Great Sugar Barons and that the slave cabins were relocated in 1858 and parcels of land given to the slave families when they were freed by the owner back then, before the Civil War. Read his entire reply on that link for all of the explanation. So I thought I would get that out of the way before I start this tour. If you feel the need to be ugly/negative about this post in the comments, I also reserve the right to delete comments.

We had a beautiful day for touring the gardens, it was perfect weather. Mark and I went along with my sister, Renee, for the tour. We first toured outside in the vast gardens, which were beautifully done. Today I’m going to share the gardens, since they are very extensive, dripping with Southern charm. Next week, I’ll share inside the house. I took a lot of photos!

The Houmas House & Gardens was open to the public in 2003, after extensive restoration of the house and gardens by the current owner, Kevin Kelly, a New Orleans businessman. Mr. Kelly allows tours of the mansion and gardens, however the Houmas remains his private residence, as it was for its previous owners for over 240 years.

I’m so happy it’s open for tours, these historical sites should be preserved, in my opinion.

Houmas House has a museum and 3 restaurants on the grounds, so it’s a great way to spend the day.

Houmas House is about an hour from New Orleans and it took us about an hour and a half from my sister’s house in Covington. We did not tour the museum as part of our tour, but opted for the Home & Garden tour only.

It’s a very unique looking museum, so I’m sure it would be full of historical memorabilia and facts.

We ate in the Dixie cafe and enjoyed it a lot. There’s a white tablecloth restaurant too called The Carriage House.

Renee and Mark, walking to the gift shop, where we bought our tickets.

All the buildings are really authentic to the time period portrayed.

The gift shop has lots of Southern decor, books, garden things.

It’s a fun place to browse.

Outside, we meandered the sidewalks and took in all the beautiful sights in the garden. The website says that the gardens are built to show off all 4 seasons with indigenous Louisiana plant life. There are water features in each courtyard, with fish ponds and plant life.

I’m not going to speak to all the photos I took, but the grounds speak for themselves. The history is as rich as the dirt on the grounds.

The mansion tour was an hour long and there were maybe 12 of us on the tour, so relatively small. The gal who did the tour was very knowledgeable and eager to share.

The Japanese garden.

The live oaks on the grounds were absolutely stunning. I’m always amazed at how big and sprawling they can be.

This is the house from the side.

Those trees were stunning. She mentioned that the live oaks are from 600 to 700 years old.

They are magnificent oaks.

This particular live oak really caught my eye and I can’t even adequately share it here without lots of pics. It sprawled out from the mother tree way over to the building in the distance. See all the moss covering it? It’s a very old tree.

The limbs were pruned and kept from going into the buildings but the sprawl was unreal.

One section of the long limb.

And another section.

It has a brace in one section. That tree was the coolest live oak I’ve ever seen!

Azaleas were blooming already.

This live oak on the lawn was also stunning. 600 years old.

Other side of the house. We’ll go inside the house next week.

So much to see and take in on the garden tour.

That tree!

A sugar cane vessel now a fountain.

I hope you enjoyed this garden tour. We sure did! I’ll be back next week to share all the inside of the house with lots more pictures. I would definitely recommend a visit to Houmas House, we loved our day. If I keep going to Louisiana, I’ll have to visit more. I think Nottaway or Laura will be next on the tours. Doing two in one day would have been a lot.

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