While enjoying the newly restored plantation, spirits keep an eye on the living, being encouraging at times.
People will be corrected if they cross over the line of approved behavior!
Oak Alley Plantation has been called the “Grand Dame of the great River Road.” WOW! Oak Alley Plantation was and is the finest Greek Revival, antebellum plantation home in Louisiana. It’s crowning feature is its “full peripheral (free-standing) colonnade of 28 colossal Doric columns.”
The inside has a square floor plan, with a central hall which runs from the front of the mansion to the rear on both floors, which opens up to balconies to catch the breezes, keeping the home cool. At each end of the halls on both floors there are “broad fan lights and sidelights framed with slim, fluted colonettes.”
Bedrooms are on the second floor. The rooms on the right side are decorated with antiques and display life in the 1800s. The bedroom and area suite on the left side is known as the lavender room, which is where Josephine Stewart spent her remaining years. It is just as she left it.
The living room, dinning room, kitchen area, parlor and sitting rooms can be found on the first floor. The rooms in the rear of the mansion were renovated in the 1920s for modern uses. Private ”openings of the ‘Big House’ may be arranged for weddings and evening functions.”
The first stunning sight one sees is the magnificent canopy of 300 year old Oak Trees which line both sides of the 1/4 mile walkway, known as oak alley, leads to the front door of this glorious plantation mansion. Younger oak trees, planted in the 1800s line both sides of the main walkway as well behind the house which leads to the old farm buildings located at the back of the property. Today, there are up-scale gift shop, ice cream parlor and a cafe which serves breakfast and lunch to guests and visitors. The lawn area and gardens take up quite a chunk of real estate, and are really beautiful to see.
600 acres of the original estate are leased for sugar cane, and 450 acres still are virgin woodlands. 75 acres of residential area surrounds The Oak Alley Foundation property. The foundation owns and operates the Oak Valley Plantation and the surrounding 25 acres.
The road which runs down the left side of the plantation are the guest cottages which are really nice. Tom and I stayed in one. It has a sitting room, a bedroom, a little kitchen, a lovely bathroom and of course heavenly air conditioning. A full breakfast is served in the cafe for overnight guests.
Oak Alley Plantation has been used in movies, including Interview with the Vampire, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, Dixie: Changing Habits, The Long Hot Summer, North and South, and Primary Colors.
The oak trees in the front were planted in the late 1690s/early 1700s by a French settler who lived on this property. The plantation was built a little over hundred years later in 1837-39 by George Swainey for wealthy Creole sugar cane farmer, Jacques Telesphore Roman III and his wife Josephine Pile. Josephine’s father was a New Orleans architect, who provided the plans for the plantation house and the estate.
Jacques called his new plantation home “Bon Sejour,” (Pleasant Sojourn), but the oaks in the front would give the plantation the name, “Oak Alley.” This is the name which stuck.
When Jacques died of TB in 1848, his son Henri took over the operations of the plantation. The Civil War wasn’t kind to the Roman family, which was true for many families in the South. Oak Alley Plantation was sold at auction in 1866 to John Armstrong. Several other owners came after him, but thy didn’t keep the place up, probably because of the cost of doing so. By the 1920s, Oak Alley Plantation was looking really long in the tooth, in a state of deterioration. In 1925, Andrew and Josephine Stewart fell in love with the place and rescued Oak Valley Plantation from its sorry state. First thing they did to start on the path of renovating and restoring this great fixer upper opportunity, was to hire architect Richard Koch to start an extensive restoration which would take years to complete. The Stewarts were dedicated to restoring this grand old plantation, and spent the rest of their lives doing so. Oak Alley Plantation became the first antebellum renovation/restoration project done in the south, 50 years before it became popular to do so.
Shortly before Josephine died in 1972, she created The Oak Alley Foundation, a non-profit organization to continue to keep Oak Alley Plantation in good hands so the mansion and its 25 acres it sits on would be around as one unit to be enjoyed by the public.
In 1998, Oak Alley Plantation opened to the public for tours, as a bed and breakfast and as a place for special events.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Josephine Pile Roman loved the social life of New Orleans and missed it when she moved to Oak Alley Plantation. As the years went by, she visited more and more in New Orleans with their children in tow, leaving Jacques by himself more and more often. Jacques died of TB in 1848 alone without his family.
Louise Roman, daughter of Jacques and Josephine, was raised in the French Creole upper-class culture. She became highly insulted and really angry when a suitor who had too much to drink and dared to try to kiss her in his condition. She lost her temper and ran away from him. In this angry state, she tripped and fell, cutting her leg badly by her iron frame in her hoop skirt.
She developed gangrene from the gash, and lost her leg. Louise felt she was now damaged goods, not fit to marry in her class. She was mentally scarred and left the plantation and joined a convent in St. Louis MO, devoting her life to serving the Lord. She later moved back to her home at Oak Alley in her later years.
Andrew and Josephine Stewart truly loved Oak Alley Plantation and spent a lot of money to restore their beloved home. Josephine wanted to be sure that Oak Alley Plantation would be well cared for, so she left her money and deeded 25 acres of the property to the foundation.
A candlestick once flew across the room right in the middle of a group of visitors on a tour led by a hostess.
Staff have heard the sound of crying coming from somewhere within the ‘Big House.’
A maintenance man was working alone in the mansion on a project. He felt a presence keeping him company, that touched him as if to encourage his efforts.
The benign entity of Josephine Stewart
After a private event, the personnel closed the ‘Big House’ for the evening. Imagine their surprise when they noticed the lamp in the lavender room was on, illuminating the room. They then saw a shadowy figure of a woman glide across the room and stopped to look at them from her room lookout.
The apparition of Josephine Stewart has been seen sitting on a bed in her favorite lavender room.
The entity of a slender, young woman with long dark hair
This entity has been seen throughout the mansion. She has been seen walking up on the widow’s walkway, and hanging out in various rooms. In the master bedroom, a tourist inadvertently caught her image on a picture, much to his surprise! She also rides her horse around the estate grounds.
Jacques Telesphore Roman III
The entity of a man wearing grey clothing and riding boots was seen near the back of the mansion, near the old kitchen by a tour guide.
His face was seen in a mirror in the attic.
A big yes is in order. People who truly loved Oak Alley Plantation are still enjoying the ambiance of the place, willing to share their home with the living.
I think that the long haired female entity is Louise, who must have felt cheated out of living the full life offered to her station and status because of her lost leg. I don’t think it is Josephine Pile, who never liked living at Oak Alley, preferring the city life.
Jacques Telesphore Roman III loved Oak Alley Plantation and is still hanging around, hoping that his wife Josephine will at last return, while checking up on the living. I think it was the entity of Jacques who let the Louisiana Spirits investigation photographer know his personal dislike for him by squeezing his arm (Incident is described above.) Jacques probably would’ve preferred to throw him out the front door if he could!
Josephine Stewart dedicated her passion and funds for the preservation of her beloved home, and can’t quite let go, perhaps making sure her wishes are followed.
Other unknown entities may also be hanging around. The EVPs suggest that other trauma happened at the Oak Alley Plantation, leaving unhappy entities with their issues.
Louisiana Spirits Investigations – Made two visits to Oak Alley with some interesting results. The paranormal activity happened in the attic on both trips.
1st Visit: Shadows were seen on the wall, mists were captured on film, short glimpses of Jacques Telesphore Ramon’s face were seen in the mirror. Some entity grabbed the arm of one investigator hard, shooting an electrical charge through his arm, causing him to drop his camera.
EVPs were recorded.
Second visit – Again the activity centered in the attic. Bill Murphy, a California film maker came along to record. They recorded some great EVPs. Also in cottage 4, where some of the crew slept, they got an early morning wake up call by a loud bang in the bathroom.
Oak Alley Plantation, Restaurant & Inn
3645 Highway 18 (Great River Road)
Vacherie, Louisiana 70090
(225) 265-2151 * 1 (800) 44ALLEY
- Oak Alley page at Prairie Ghosts
- Oak Alley Plantation Web Site
- “Ghost Tales” page on Oak Alley Plantation Website
- Oak Alley page at National Register of Historic Places
- Grave Addiction Website
- Oak Alley Plantation Report at Louisiana Spirits Web Site
- HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory
by William Dennis Hauk
The Penguin Group