A property of the National Park Service
This amazing plantation complex had only been owned by the Prudhomme family—seven generations—when the National Park Service purchased it in 1997 as one of the two units of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park. Located 12 miles south of Natchitoches, LA, the c. 1821 main house is a fine example of Creole architecture, but more important are the 27 historic outbuildings that survive, illustrating to the visitor the village-like character of antebellum plantation life. Suzanne Turner and her former professor and colleague Ian Firth of Athens, Georgia, were contracted to research and write a cultural landscape report to serve as the basis for decision-making as the park service prepared the landscape for public visitation. The work included archival research, site reconnaissance, and oral history interviews with descendents of the Prudhomme family. One distinctive feature that was recorded by Turner and Firth was the wine bottle parterre in front of the main house. Empty French wine bottles were used, half-buried with their spouts down, to outline the geometric shapes of the planting areas of this garden intended to be viewed from the raised gallery that overlooks it. This plan and the other information contained within the cultural landscape report provide the background as the park service restores Oakland Plantation to its appearance circa 1960.