So what do movie star Bette Davis, 20 million pounds of sugar and a solid silver carving of President Abraham Lincoln have in common?
They’re all connected to Houmas House Plantation – one of the best preserved ante-bellum mansion and grounds that litter the banks of the Mississippi River in Louisiana – and the Bloggers on Bourbon’s first destination on day two.
Saturday morning came early, but after a quick stop at Café Beignet for a Southern breakfast of coffee, grits, eggs and bacon, we made our way to meet the group and the shuttle. An hour later, we pulled up to Houmas House – named for the original Indian tribe that sold the land to Maurice Conway and Alexander Latil in the mid-1700s.
Waiting in the garden for our guide to arrive, an awed gasp went up from the 35 bloggers present, as a perfectly preserved lady in period dress emerged on the walk between the ancient oak trees surrounding the home. She looked every bit the part of a 19th century mistress of the house in her five layer pink dress, which covered even her ankles (which was a big deal back then when men weren’t allowed so much as a peek). And she had the perfect Southern accent to accentuate her costume.
For the next hour, our guide regaled and beguiled us with stories of ghosts, pioneers, famous visitors, eccentric owners and changes the property has seen over the past three centuries.
Turns out that many movies have been filmed on location, including 1963’s “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” starring Bette Davis. In fact, the room in which Ms. Davis stayed while filming is preserved as part of the Houmas House tour.
During the War of Northern Aggression, the house survived looting by Yankee troops when then owner, Irishman John Burnside claimed immunity as a subject of the British Crown. And at one point, the property turned out more than 20 million pounds of sugar a year from its sugar cane fields, making it one of the top producers in the county.
But you may be asking yourself, “Why would a Southern plantation have a statue of Abe Lincoln?” Good question…turns out that a 20th century owner purchased what he thought was a bronze statue of the 16th president, but as the auction house was cleaning it before delivery, discovered that it was in fact silver and worth about five times what was paid. The detail is amazing as you can feel the distinction of everything all the way down to Abe’s fingernails.
After lunch in the Houmas House Café, it was back to the French Quarter and an afternoon nap before the night’s adventures.
It was hot and Christine’s purse was heavy, so being a gentleman, I held her purse as we walked to Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, which many agree is one of the best in the country. But, our fearless leader decided to take photos of me with my “European manbag” and post them on Facebook… not very nice.
Anyway, the 16 oz. New York strip I was served at Dickie Brennans was amazing… I ate it all and didn’t feel the least bit guilty. During the meal, we heard from Collective Bias and Open Sky, who were generous enough to sponsor the dinner.
Back at the hotel, it was time for a passion party… It was a bit awkward for me, being only one of two guys present, but I’ll spare you the details. It could have been worse, I suppose.
After everyone had pocketed their free “samples,” we headed out into the hot drizzle toward Bourbon Street and spent the next two hours “networking” at The Cat’s Meow. I was very proud of Christine who, being quite uncomfortable with her bulging baby belly, lasted longer than many of the other bloggers.
A huge thanks to the following BOBNOLA Saturday sponsors::
Plantation tour coordinated by :: Traveling Mamas – Shannon Lane, @travelingmamas, http://www.travelingmamas.com,
Plantation tour and tickets :: Houmas House – www.houmashouse.com
Lunch at Plantation :: Global Resort Homes – @globalresorts, www.globalresorthomes.com/
Bloggers on Bourbon banner :: Uprinting – @uprinting, http://www.uprinting.com
Bloggers on Bourbon shirts :: Zazzle – @zazzle, http://www.zazzle.com