Whitney Plantation Historic District

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Whitney Plantation Historic District
The Big House - Whitney Plantation Historic District - 2016.jpg
Front of the Big House
Whitney Plantation Historic District is located in Louisiana
Whitney Plantation Historic District
Whitney Plantation Historic District is located in the United States
Whitney Plantation Historic District
Nearest cityWallace, Louisiana
Coordinates30°2′21″N 90°39′2″W / 30.03917°N 90.65056°W / 30.03917; -90.65056Coordinates: 30°2′21″N 90°39′2″W / 30.03917°N 90.65056°W / 30.03917; -90.65056
Area40 acres (16 ha)
Built1803 (1803)
Architectural styleFederal, French Creole
MPSLouisiana's French Creole Architecture MPS
NRHP reference #92001566[1]
Added to NRHPNovember 24, 1992

The Whitney Plantation Historic District is a museum devoted to slavery in the Southern United States. The district, including the main house and outbuildings, is preserved near Wallace, in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, on the River Road along the Mississippi River. The plantation was started in 1752 by German immigrants Ambroise Haydel and his wife, and their descendants owned it until 1867.[2]

The museum, comprising main portions of the 2,000-acre plantation property,[2] opened its doors to the public for the first time in December 2014. It was founded by John Cummings, a trial attorney from New Orleans who has spent more than $8 million of his own fortune on this long-term project, and worked on it for nearly 15 years.[3][4] The director of research is Ibrahima Seck, a Senegalese scholar who has done much work on the history of slavery.[2] The grounds contain imaginative exhibits and original art commissioned by Cummings, such as life-size sculptures of children. They represent persons born into slavery before the Civil War, who as older adults were interviewed for the Federal Writers Project during the Great Depression. These oral histories of hundreds of the last survivors of slavery were collected and published by the federal government, to preserve their stories. The transcripts and some audio recordings are held by the Library of Congress.[5][2]

The French Creole raised-style main house, built in 1803, is the most important architectural example in the state. In addition, the plantation has numerous extant outbuildings or "dependencies": a pigeonnier, a plantation store, the only surviving French Creole barn in Louisiana, and slave quarters (these were moved from another plantation but are typical of what was here).[6] The complex includes three archaeological sites which have had varying degrees of exploration.[7]

The 1884 Mialaret House, and its associated buildings and property, were added to the complex by later purchase. They help to reflect the long working history of the plantation.[6] Some of the extensive land is still planted in sugarcane.

The historic district was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Whitney Plantation is also one of 26 sites featured on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.

Representation in other media[edit]

  • Scenes from the 2012 Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained were filmed on and around the plantation.[3]
  • The Atlantic magazine made a short documentary video about the museum, "Why America Needs a Slavery Museum" (2015).[4]
  • The 2018 released Red Dead Redemption 2 game recreated the Whitney Plantation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b c d DAVID AMSDEN, "Building the First Slavery Museum in America", New York Times, 26 February 2015; accessed 27 October 2017
  3. ^ a b Kaminsky, Jonathan (17 January 2015), "Harsh world of slavery focus of Louisiana plantation museum", Reuters, accessed 2015-01-19
  4. ^ a b Paul Rosenfeld, "Why America Needs a Slavery Museum", 25 August 2015, The Atlantic
  5. ^ Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 to 1938, Library of Congress
  6. ^ a b "Whitney Plantation Historic District", Southeastern Louisiana, Travel Itinerary, National Park Service, accessed 15 Jul 2008
  7. ^ Nomination, "Whitney Plantation Historic District", Louisiana Office of Historic Preservation, accessed 15 Jul 2008

External links[edit]