Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oakley Plantation (Audubon SHS) - St. Francisville, Louisiana

Oakley Plantation
Built in around 1806, Oakley Plantation at Audubon State Historic Site has been a Louisiana landmark for more than 200 years.

Built with clear West Indian influences, the house dates from the days when the Florida Parishes of Louisiana were still part of Spain. Oakley was still new in 1810 when the territory east of the Mississippi, south of the 31st parallel, north of Lake Pontchartrain and Gulf of Mexico and west of the Perdido River rebelled against the Spanish and declared its independence. The Republic of West Florida, so named because it was part of colonial West Florida and not present-day West Florida, lasted for only three months before it was taken over by the United States.

Footpath at Oakley Plantation
Oakley Plantation's best known interaction with history, however, came in 1821 when famed naturalist John James Audubon was hired by Mr. and Mrs. James Pirrie, the plantation owners, to teach drawing to their daughter Eliza. Although he remained there only a few months, the plantation became a landmark location in the life and career of Audubon because it was here that he began work on 32 of his famed paintings of North American birds. He was so taken with the farm and its surroundings, in fact, that he described its beauty as "almost supernatural."

Oakley Plantation is now preserved at Audubon State Historic Site on the outskirts of St. Francisville, Louisiana. To learn more, please visit

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