COTE DE TEXAS: A Creole Plantation–in 2017

A Creole Plantation–in 2017

 

First, a bit of news…the Aidan Gray contest has not been decided yet.  It might be a few more weeks before the winners are announced.   As soon as the Aidan Gray people make their final decisions, I will announce it!!  You could probably still instagram an entry or two right now – if you want: #AGwithanedge


 

 

Last year, I wrote a story about this folie, a pavilion located outside Beaux Bridge, Louisiana on Lake Martin.  Built by antiquarian and architectural historian Monsieur Robert E. Smith, the tower is his country house – a nearby get-away from his antique shop – which is actually also in  the country for us city folks.

 

 

The tower is unique – it has one large room with four smaller rooms on each of its main floors and is designed as if it was built in the 18th century.  All signs of modern living are hidden away and guests are treated to life as it might have been in France during Madame de Pompadour’s day – or in the United States, well before the Louisiana Purchase!

 

Located on Lake Martin, home to fabulous species of birds and alligators, M. Smith designed the tower surrounded by a moat.  Guests cross a bridge to enter his special world.

 

Here is the googlemap satellite photo of the tower – at Lake Martin.  You can get a feel for how totally surrounded by the trees the tower is!!

 

In the very center of the photo is the Tower, seen from the middle of Lake Martin.

 

 

Each floor of the tower has one large room with four smaller rooms.  Here is the dining room floor – where the table is set in front of the balcony that overlooks Lake Martin.   All evidence of the 21st century is hidden away, including the kitchen – which is behind buffet a deux corps doors.

 

Here the table sits by the antique mantel.  The wood beamed ceilings are especially beautiful.

 

The living room floor is filled with French furniture – of course – and oil portraits.  The walls are antique boiserie.  Closets, stairs, bathrooms and other evidence of modernity are tucked away within small “rooms” in the corners.

Another floor holds the bedroom, while the fourth floor is an open air sleeping porch.  On the top level – there is a terrace that overlooks the entire property and Lake Martin. 

To read the complete story about the French pavilion, go HERE.

Work for Monsieur Smith means leaving the pavilion property and driving to his nine acre compound where he has accumulated several buildings and two houses, each of which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 

The Au Vieux Paris Antiques Compound rests on nine acres – where nine buildings have been either moved here and restored or built by Robert Smith.    The largest building is the Henry Penne House, which was restored over 40 years ago.  Smith’s goal was to recreate a French Creole plantation as it might have looked in the 19th century – which he has accomplished.  Before the Pavilion on Lake Martin was built, Mr. Smith lived on the property – in one of the houses.  His antique business is now set up in the Henry Penne house, where he shows his French 17th, 18th and 19th century antiques along with his selection of building materials.

 

The property is covered in beautiful old oak trees gracefully dripping with moss. 

 

On the property are two pigeonnaires, two privies, and two houses, one with a semi-attached kitchen – nine buildings in all.   The property is set up as an actual 19th century Creole plantation might have been:  the main house or the Henri Penne house with its semi attached kitchen,  the smaller house or the maison de Dimanche would have been the overseer’s house.  Most Creole plantations had two pigeonnaires, and of course, there would be a privy or two, one on his property is from 1830, the oldest documented privy in Louisiana.     Additionally there is also a storage building here – built in the 1820s to store valuable food commodities for the Cormier family from Henderson.  It has all been so authentically restored, I can see this property being owned by the state one day and turned into a cultural site.

 

A view of one of the pigeonnaires.  The garden is at the left.

 

 

 

The first house M. Smith brought to the property was the Henri Penne house, built in 1821.  The house had been lived in by 13 field hands who worked for the next door plantation.  When Smith first saw this house in Jeanerette, it was in need of total restoration.   Here is the house as it was before Smith moved it to his land.

 

 

 

This photograph shows the house at its new home, after the roof and front porch were removed so that it could be moved to the property.

 

 

 

And, here is how the Henri Penne house looked as it was restored by M. Smith, now surrounded by the picket fence and gardens that he designed.  In 1985, Smith opened his shop, Au Vieux Paris Antiques, in the Henri Penne house. 

 

The property has been photographed for several publications.  Here, it is – showing the gravel lined garden in front of house.  Such a beauty!   The 1 1/2 story house has a center hallway with two rooms on each side.   The staircase to the second floor is outside.   

 

A side view of the Henri Penne house with the semi attached kitchen at its back.

 

Before the house was overtaken by the antiques shop, it was used as a house by M. Smith.  Here in an older photograph, you can see the living room filled with American, French and English furnishings.

 

And the dining room – which was set for a dinner party.  I love the antique French chandelier and the porcelains – I have several of these!!  Love them!! 

 

And an early view of the Henri Penne guest bedroom – with a spinning wheel.  It was furnished with Acadian furniture and a large collection of Acadian textiles.

 

The view off the semi-attached kitchen, overlooks the privy.

 

 

And, today, the house is now the antique shop only.  Here in the center hall, it is filled with the 17th, 18th, and 19th century antiques that M. Smith hand picks in France, where he also has a Hotel Particular. (Hopefully that will be my next story about M. Smith!)  I spy so many things that I need, here!  Or love!!

 

There is furniture, porcelains, mirrors, chandeliers and textiles  - among other French items.

 

 

An early magazine photoshoot of the garden at the front of the Henri Penne house.

 

 

Today, the garden has changed a little with an obelisk and a collection of pots on the lawn.  A border of plants now surrounds the lawn.

 

Besides the Henri Penne house, there is the second house on the property where Monsieur Smith once lived full time; it is called the maison de Dimanche, or the Sunday House.   Built in 1830, it was once used as a town house for what was probably a wealthy and educated Creole family who lived in the country.  On the weekends, such families would come to town to go shopping, visit friends,  attend the opera, and then go to mass on Sunday.  They would spend the weekend in their “Sunday House”  instead of taking the long carriage ride back to the plantation.   The German Texas town of Fredericksburg has a number of Sunday houses made of native Texas stone which served the same purpose as Louisiana’s maison de Dimanches.  The Creole Sunday houses, though, are made of wood, inspired by the French houses found in Louisiana and the West Indies. 

 

 

This particular “maison de Dimanche” was discovered by M. Smith in 1981 in St. Martinville, where it had been moved in 1845 from the front of its corner lot to the rear, when it became an outdoor kitchen for the new house that was built in its stead. It took Mr. Smith over a year to convince the owners of the small 784 sq. ft. house to sell it to him.   Before it could be transported to the plantation, it had to be shored up a bit, after which it was carefully moved from the land where it had stood for over a century to its new home outside of Breaux Bridge.    In this photograph above, the house as it looked a few months after it was moved to M. Smith’s plantation.

 

 

Once it was moved, Mr. Smith restored it, bringing the charming, tiny house back to life, as seen above.  He happily lived there until he built his tower, the pavilion by Lake Martin.   The Sunday house has two rooms, a salon and a bedroom – which stand side by side - with a central chimney and a front and back porch on the left side, along with a cabinet room on the right rear.  The salon was designed with its doors on the front and back porch to catch the breezes in those non air-conditioned day.  The salon is open on three sides with the fourth side having a mirror over the mantel reflecting light and views and creating a four-sided lanterne.

 

As seen in a photoshoot – the maison de Dimanche on the left.  In the background, the larger Henri Penne house, with its detached kitchen at its rear.   Here, the maison de Dimanche takes the position of an overseer’s house.

 

In August 1991, Hurricane Andrew hit Louisiana, forming a tornado that landed on the drive of Smith’s property.   The force picked up a water oak tree and dropped it back on the maison de Dimanche – all while M. Smith was sleeping inside!  It was pure luck that the tree fell on the solid brick double center chimney, breaking its fall.  This protected Smith from being crushed by the tree and he considers it a miracle he survived.  The bed he was sleeping in had four posters which actually held the ceiling up!   After Andrew, the tiny house had to be completely restored, yet again, and it wasn’t until winter he was able to move back in.  

 

And here, the tiny house was put back together again after the hurricane.  Notice the tiny shuttered window in the attic space.   Most fun, after the hurricane – M. Smith put a new bedroom, half-bath, and an office in this attic space.   No photos yet of this space. 

 

 

 

All was well until 2011, when the house needed a new roof and new wooden steps and porch flooring – the humid weather causes the wood to quickly rot here.  Finally, this last August, a flood in Louisiana brought 1 1/2 inches of water inside the maison de Dimanche, which had to be restored, yet again.   Here, you can see the new metal roof that replaced the shingles.   The tiny salon is on the left, while the bedroom is on the right.   At the left where the water oak was uprooted in the hurricane, there is now a vegetable garden located within the white fence.

 

 

 

But…. now that the house has been put back together, yet again, Robert Smith is celebrating it – calling it his phoenix, rising from the ashes to go on to a renewed life, yet again!!

 

From an early magazine story – the front porch, with a view into the salon.

 

  And from the back porch,  the view looks out on the nine acres.

 

An early photoshoot showing the salon when M. Smith still lived here full-time. 

 

From Southern Accents, a beautiful photo of the salon.

 

The table set with M. Smith’s collection of silver, dishes and crystal.

 

An older photoshoot.   The original cypress mantle with its faux marble finish in the Directoire style.

 

Today, the house remains the same, just a bit more furniture has been added, like these two French chairs.  

 

 

The view of the other side of the salon.  Oil portraits flank the settee. Louis XVI transitional to Directoire furnishings.  

 

Facing the fireplace.   The French door at the very left leads to the back porch.

   

The view into the bedroom.

 

The male portrait to the right of the settee.

 

And on the left side, the female portrait.   His wife?

 

The set of chairs lines the back wall, while the door opens to the rear porch.

 

Close up of the accessories.

 

The armoires are used to replace the missing closets.   These old houses were built without closets, and armoires took their place.

 

My favorite vignette!

 

The back door and the door into the bedroom.

 

 

From Southern Accents.  The bedroom.   Here the walls were once faux painted.

 

Today. The walls are now cleanly painted “Magic White,”  a color that changes in lighting conditions, going from cream to ashes of roses. 

 

Above the mantle is a portrait of the architect and builder Alexandre Bienvenu DeVince, 1784-1855.  He inherited his parent’s plantation near Lake Martin called Cypress Island.  This is Alexandre’s personal cherry wood armoire.  He is buried in the Bienvenu tomb in New Orleans’ St. Louis cemetery #1.   At one point, M. Smith believed that Alexandre had built his maison de Dimanche, but research proved him wrong.

 

   Alexandre’s armoire to the left of his portrait, with his signature monogram used to identify ownership.

 

 

  

Alexandre looks almost familiar!  My husband’s family is from nearby New Iberia.  I wonder if they are related?

 

 

From Southern Accents.   This is the very same four poster bed that saved M. Smith’s life during Hurricane Andrew. 

 

Governor Jacque Dupre’s cypress clock.

 

Today.  The bed is mahogany, from Louisiana.   Seen today the bedroom has less fabric and now has light gray walls.  The room looks bright and  fresh.

 

Today.   Early, Louisiana cherry inlaid chest of drawers. 

 

And in this corner, Smith recently added this antique mirror and sconce.  Just the perfect size for this space.

 

There was once a very rustic bathroom, which M. Smith replaced with this more modern one.

 

M. Smith glazed in the back porch, where he created a small kitchen hidden in wood cabinets.

 

Here, the top of the cabinet is open, showing one part of the inventive kitchen.

 

The hidden refrigerator and trash can!

 

The maison de Dimanche today with the new vegetable garden at the left. 

After surviving so much – almost ruin, a hurricane, and a flood – M. Smith says this house is his Phoenix – risen from the ashes to live yet again. 

So true!!

 

While M. Smith originally thought that Alexandre Bienvenu DeVince, the architect whose portrait hangs in his bedroom, had designed his maison de Dimanche – he had not.  But, Alexandre WAS the architect of this gorgeous house on the plantation “Lady of the Lake” built in 1827 between St. Martinville and Cade.   Sadly, the house was destroyed in 1976 – believe it or not!   Notice how charming the plantation was – with the picket fence and pigeonnaire – just like M. Smith’s own Creole plantation today.   The artist of the painting was Marie Adrien Persac, a noted Frenchman.

 

Here is the actual plantation house before it was destroyed:  Lady of the Lake.  Notice the old car parked under the porch.  The stairs are outside just like the Henri Penne house.  Beautiful arched transoms upstairs.   It really is such a shame that someone couldn’t have renovated this house.

When the house was torn down, pieces of it were sold and M.Smith was there – along with his hired photographer who captured the demolition on film.  Those photos are now in the possession of the Lafayette Science Museum.

 

Close up the façade, and of the doors upstairs – at Lady of the Lake Plantation.

The doors and shutters on the maison de Dimanche were identical to the doors and shutters of Lady of the Lake plantation, which was one of the main reasons why M. Smith initially erroneously believed that Alexandre Bienvenu DeVince was the architect of both houses.  Later, he learned that that the original owner of the maison de Dimanche was married to the builder, who was definitely NOT Alexandre.   Some eight years after Lady of the Lake was demolished, M. Smith was lucky enough to salvage several of the doors and shutters for his own plantation.

 

This particular door that leads from the salon to the rear porch, where the tiny kitchen is, came from the dining room at the Lady of the Lake Plantation.

 

This is the house’s original double door with its original batten shutters that leads from the bedroom to the front porch.

 

And these front doors that lead from the front porch to the salon were hand made, 1984, copies of the original glazed doors. The batten shutters came from Lady of the Lake plantation.  

 

Here are two photos of the maison de Dimanche being restored.  You can see on the left photo, the door and the shutters, which were attached.  Next to it is the front window with its shutters, closed.    Another close up view on the right, showing the original door with the closed batten shutters.

 

An original floor tile from the Lady of the Lake plantation – very similar to the antique tiles M. Smith now imports from France and sells in his shop. 

A note about the tiles:  Alexandre’s father and/or grandfather had a shop in  the French Quarter that made and sold these tiles.  This tile most likely came from that shop. Of course! M. Smith treasures this tile, since Alexandre is one in a long line of his relatives.

When M. Smith built his Folie on Lake Martin – some 23 years after Lady of the Lake was demolished, there were still enough bricks left over for M. Smith to use to construct the Folie’s chimneys!

  

And remember how I said that the architect Alexandre actually looked familiar?  My husband’s mother, Mary Louviere Webb, was born on a rice farm in nearby New Iberia.  A Creole, she was one of 11 children and was the only one to leave the rice farm she grew up on – smitten as she was by the handsome Keith Thompson Webb, an oilman who was doing work in the area.  She left with Keith and never looked back, moving all over Texas, and even Mexico, as Keith worked for different oil companies as a geologist.  They had three sons, the middle was Benjamin Keith Webb better known as Mr. Slippersocksman. 

But, his mother, Mary Louviere, has the black hair and dark eyes like our talented architect, Alexandre.  I decided to google him and see what information I could find about him.  Imagine my surprise when the web site for the Louviere Family Genealogy page showed up!!!

And there he is.  Way back a number of generations, Mr. Alexandre Bienvenu DeVince, is  somehow a relative of Ben’s.  No wonder he looked familiar.  AND which means Elisabeth and M. Smith are related somehow,  though just barely. 

And, below is that charming painting of Alexandre’s plantation, Lady of the Lake.

The artist was Marie Adrien Persac.

 

The artist, Adrien, was from France.  He actually came to America to hunt buffalo.  While here, he married Odile Daigre in Baton Rouge in 1851.  The marriage certificate states he was living in Indiana where family legend claims he was cultivating apples.  It’s not clear what brought Adrien down south to Louisiana.   Letters with his marriage proposal show him to be a highly educated Frenchman, while his wife, who was just 16, was not.  She lived on the Daigre Plantation, which Adrien later immortalized when he painted it.   The couple had three sons:  Marie Adrien Edouard, Octave Joseph, and Alfred.

 

The Daigre Plantation on Manchac Bayou, painted by Adrien.  This plantation was rather small and not as grand as some of the others he painted.  It is believed that his wife and mother in law are shown in the front yard.  The overseers house to the left is probably the house that was given to Adrien and his wife when they married.   Doesn’t this house looks a little like the maison de Dimanche on M. Smith’s plantation?

Adrien was a brilliant and very talented man.  He was a learned cartographer, engineer, architect, and photographer, as well as an artist.  His family has a private collection of his works, but he is most famous for the series of bright watercolors of plantations that he painted between 1857 and 1861.  This represented life in the south before the Civil War, a sort of Gone With The Wind at the picnic when life was so beautiful and hopeful.  Adrien later moved to New Orleans where he was first a photographer on Chartres Street, then an architect, and later he founded his own school where he taught art.  He inherited 10,000 francs from a French relative which allowed him to buy real estate and prosper in New Orleans.  He went back to France where a painting of his won First Place in an exhibition there.  Back in New Orleans, he continued to work as an architect and he died in 1873 at the age 50 of either yellow fever or cholera, two diseases that plagued the city that particular  summer.  He had been moved back home while sick, and had died at his wife’s plantation in Manchac.  He and his wife are buried in Baton Rouge.  Much of his art work is missing and has never been found, including the piece that won the exhibition in France.  But the series of his wonderful plantation paintings remain today and he is known for these watercolors tproduced before the Civil War, along with his lithographs of the city of New Orleans.

 

The Olivier Plantation – this is the Orange Grove plantation on the Bayou Teche, with the main house and the garconniers (the bachelor’s house.)   The sugar house is at the right with the pigeonnaire.  There is a floating pontoon bridge over the bayou!  This painting hangs in the Louisiana State Museum.

 

Another painting.  The Hope Estate.  Owned by Col. Philip Hickey – this was located five miles below Baton Rouge.  I love the front gate – so fancy! 

 

One of the more famous estates he painted was Shadows on the Teche – probably because it is one of the few houses and buildings that he painted that still exists today.

 

Shadows on the Teche today – located in New Iberia. One family, The Weeks, owned the plantation through the years and it was then donated to the National Trust.

 

Ile Copal Plantation, immortalized in 1860 by Adrien Persac.   This house was built by Governor Alexandre Mouton who had married the granddaughter of Governor Jacques Dupre.  They had 4 children before she died and he remarried another woman who had six children with him!   Ile Copal or Sweet Gum Grove plantation covered 2000 improved acres and 18,000 unimproved acres on both sides on the Vermilion River in Vermilion, which is today Lafayette.  They raised sugar (180,000 pounds of cane in 1860 alone) and produced timber from the trees cut down at Lake Martin, which is where M. Smith’s tower is located today.  At the time, there were over 120 slaves who lived on the plantation.

You might remember the grandfather, Gov. Jacques Dupre.  His long case clock resides in the bedroom of the maison de Dimanche.   Small world, I know!

 

 

Active in the confederacy, from 1843 to 1846, Alexandre Mouton was Governor of Louisiana. He was also a U.S. Senator, and was president of the Louisiana Secession Convention.  

 

The Ile Copal plantation had a large number of slaves who lived there, in misery, waiting and praying for their freedom.  Ironically, in 1920, the house became the first school for African-Americans in Lafayette.  The house burned down in 1928, rumored to have been felled by the Ku Klux Klan.   Some say it was caused by an iron.  An interesting side note:  there used to be a dirt road that connected Mouton’s plantation to downtown Vermilionville.  His slaves planted both sides of the road with oak trees from Lee to Jefferson Street.  This was later renamed Oak Avenue because of all the beautiful trees which are mostly gone today. 

The Île Copal Main House—where the Governor Alexandre Mouton lived until he died, stands on the exact spot where the LeRosen school on Pinhook is located today. 

 

Alfred Mouton, was the governor’s son.  He grew up on the plantation and during the civil war was killed, becoming a martyr for the Acadian lifestyle and his state. 

Do you like Persac’s paintings?  I know this is cheesy, but this company sells copies of his works!

 

Click on this painting for the link!

 

I love this – Persac’s Port of New Orleans painted for his most famous map – seen below:

 

Persac was a noted cartographer.  His most famous work is the map of plantations on the lower Mississippi from New Orleans to Natchez. Persac floated up the river in a skiff, docking at each plantation and house along way.  The large, 5’ tall, map included four drawings and it neatly folded up in a green cover.  In all – only 10 were produced.

 

The original green cover.  Back and front.

 

An enlargement of one section.

 

Years ago, one of Persac’s maps showed up on Antiques Roadshow.  The owner was pleased when it was given a value of $5,000.  Recently, the appraiser was asked to update the value for the show.  His research showed that one of the maps had sold, after a bidding war, for $350,000!!!!!  Another map sold for $197,000.  There is a blog, where a man casually writes about finding an original of this map – on a shelf – the above photo of the green folder is his.  I left a comment wondering if he ever sold it!!!

 

History is so fascinating.  A chance encounter with an antiquarian in southern, Creole Louisiana named Monsieur Robert Smith, leads him to show me a painting he owns of a famous Louisiana architect, who happens to be one of his long lost relatives…and whom, I discover, is also a relative of my husband and daughter!  History and antiques are so fascinating, the passage of time, the patina, the workmanship and the beauty of days long passed….. 

 

M. Smith at his maison de Dimanche.

 

The dark skin, the dark hair, and dark eyed architect, Alexandre Bienvenu DeVince, who reminded me somehow of my husband’s maternal family, the Louvieres.

 

And my beautiful mother-in-law, Mary Louviere, as a young girl in New Iberia, before she left for Texas.  The dark skin, the dark hair and eyes, and her sharp nose – of course they look alike!

 

 

And speaking of antique paintings, I saw this one in M. Smith’s shop.   It’s a gorgeous painting currently for sale at Au Vieux Paris Antiques.  LOVE!!!  It’s called “Pilgrims on their Way”  from 1790!!  Oh, it’s gorgeous.  The frame itself is so beautiful.

 

I went on M. Smith’s web site to pick out a few more favorites.  He has lots of porcelains, including this beautiful set of dishes from 1840.

 

This magnificent, very large table is for sale at Au Vieux de Paris Antiques.  Seats 16!!!!!!

 

Mirror.   To die for!!!  Late 18th century.   

 

This is so sweet.  I love the crystals.  Louis XV.  1890.

 

1815.  Empire clock – LOVE!!!!!   This is fabulous!!!

 

And of course, this caught my eye – French Provencal.  Gray paint.

Be sure to visit his web site to look at all his merchandise, including the new “Building Materials.”

 

Antique floor tile imported by Robert Smith at his shop.  Sigh…..

Visit his web site:

www.auvieuxparisantiques.com

A huge thank you to M. Smith!!!

Robert E. Smith
Au Vieux Paris Antiques
1040 Henri Penne Rd.

www.auvieuxparisantiques.com

Breaux Bridge La, 70517
www.auvieuxparisantiques.com
robertesmith@centurytel.net

Tel: 337-332-2852
Mobile: 337-356-2131

49 comments :

  1. Dear Joni

    Thank you for this wonderful post. So different - and so fascinating to read your account of how M. Smith restored all these buildings so sympathetically and with such respect. It's such a different and charming world he has re-created. I also loved the old paintings, so charming too - and the wonderful discovery that your husband was distantly related to the architect. What a lovely surprise for you! Perhaps some of those that are "lost" are just in private collections and have never come back to the market. Hopefully so. Also love his folly tower. Am just puzzled by the way he must style himself with the usage of the French Monsieur. Yes, I get that he is of French heritage but he has been American for generations, presumably. It just seems affected and sounds an off-note for me. But perhaps it's what all Creoles do? Anyway, I loved the rest. It must also be very difficult trying to maintain those old wooden buildings in the humidity and I wonder too whether it's an area that's subject to termites, those great lovers of wood.
    Lucky people who get to visit this place and shop there! Best wishes, Pamela

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    1. He is Creole and lives half the year in France. His name is pronounced Ro-bear. It is MY choice to use the M. Smith which is more fitting for his lifestyle. M. Smith is an aesthete. Every choice in his life is made as if he was in the 19th or 18th century. He really lives that way!! Though, of course, he has to use airplanes and computers! He does have a problem with wood rot and had to remove the roof and porch on the Sunday house.

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    2. Thank you for explaining, Joni. Must be a fascinating man. How wonderful for him to have a townhouse in Uzes. It's a magical place and when he's there he could so easily feel as though he's back in his rightful century. I love wandering the streets, visiting the old herbal garden and sitting in the beautiful old Place aux Herbes near the fountain. Over a long relaxed lunch or a glass of wine later in the day.
      Sorry about his wood rot though. It must be an immense problem.
      Cordialement, Pamela

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  2. This is fantastic, after your details about the folie. He really has gone the extra mile to get the details right and to preserve history. Wonderful!
    The tower’s concept of hiding stairs and bathrooms is brilliant, but from the outside I see no windows for them; how does that work?
    The chandelier you like is called a montgolfier style—it’s the name of the inventors of the hot-air balloon, and this kind of chandelier looks like one upside down. I love that. We have a gorgeous one in our holiday apartment.
    The floor tiles are called tomettes. They can be hexagonal or square—depends on the region. Ours are square. They are very beautiful, because, having been handmade so long ago, they have little variations in color that make the overall effect more complex.
    Where is M. Smith's hotel particulier? I am SO curious.

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    1. his townhouse is in Uzes. I've seen photos. It's very old, stone, very tall ceilings. it must be very large because there are a number of guest bedrooms!

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    2. Uzes! One of our favourite places! It's so gorgeous. So many lovely old stone houses there. Do you know approximately where it is? Best wishes, Pamela

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  3. I remember that post so well! One of my favorites. Probably because it's always been a dream of mine to build a tower in the middle of nowhere. So appreciate all the work and research you put into your posts. What a beauty your mother in law is! Such fascinating history. I was going to write a loving knockoff post on my blog and call it "Cote d'Ohio" but then I remembered I'm too lazy to write even a 1/4 as researched post as you could. So instead I'll just make a subtle request that while we're on plantations you unearth some fab history on this plantation on Edisto Island, South Carolina. Rumored to be unofficially designed by the same architect as the White House.
    https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/7311-Jenkins-Hill-Rd-Edisto-Island-SC-29438/2095901518_zpid/
    Also if you want to unearth a husband to buy it for me, that'd be wonderful too. I am a great cook with a foul temperament. so maybe a fat deaf guy would work. I'll leave the details to you.

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    1. omg, you are hysterical!!!!!! i need a good laugh today too. thanks for the story idea. sounds fascinating!

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  4. This post illustrates how much better a dining table looks set when it has a tablecloth v. the table without one.

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  5. Fascinating. Our relatives own the Palo Alto plantation near Donaldsonville, LA.

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  6. Who makes the "magic white" paint used?

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  7. I can't understand why so many bloggers and realtors misspell mantel. If it's part of a fireplace, it's mantel, not mantle. Think of it this way: A mantel is a shelf. Spell mantel with -el, just as you spell sh-el-f.

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  8. Another great piece. Joni, you're a gem! I appreciate your hard work, charming blog voice, and the wealth of photos! I happened on your blog years ago when my father was married for a while to Dottie Wills. ( a late life union between a CT gent and a TX lady that never quite worked - but she was a design wizard who did work wonders on our family house in the Bahamas.) Small world. Anyway many years ago, that led me to your blog which I save up as a treat to read when I have enough time to savor it! Thanks again.

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    1. Yes!!! My daughter was a flower girl at their wedding!!!! So glad you left a comment!! Hope
      All is well with your family. Dottie is so talented. She was a natural born designer. Incredible. She passed that on to Shannon who does design work too. And her father was an incredible artist. I always wanted to see the Bahamas house but never had the chance. Take care!!!!

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  9. Still baffled that the word "Plantation" is still used to refer to a property in 2017. Its amazing that word holds such a romanticism for some and suffering for others. I hope this isn't taken as criticism for your post...just something that stood out for me on the title of the post and obviously not all the pictures and work you put into it.

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    1. A plantation is a place where things are planted. Once a plantation, always a plantation. Louisiana is sort of a separate country, in a way, than the rest of the USA. One would have to visit to understand. It has it's own culture, which is unlike anywhere else in the world. They don't have counties - they have parishes. They don't have farms, they have plantations. And by the way, there are plantations in other parts of the world too. The term doesn't depend upon what sort of labour is used. There are places in Louisiana where only French is spoken, and that have unique culture and cuisine. It is difficult for those unfamiliar with it to comprehend. The US has become somewhat homogenous, but Louisiana retains its flavour, thank goodness. So please don't judge until you have seen for yourself. In a world where the head of state talks openly about grabbing women's genitals, I have to commend you for your sensitivity. In this case, it is unfounded.

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    2. Whenever we cross the state lines from Texas to Louisiana it's like we are in a different country. There is no other state line in the US where that happens. It's
      An incredible feeling. Louisiana is such a gem. New Orleans is one of the best cities in the world.

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    3. Thanks for the response. I was providing my own opinion on the subject. I never said I was offended, it was merely an observation. In the US the term "plantation" resonates a certain way for some citizens. I was specifically speaking to that reference. Surely you recognize what I mean since you referred to my "sensitivity".

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    4. To Anon 10:52 AM
      So..you were baffled, but not offended. Do I have that correct?
      Sheila

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    5. I must confess that in the context of USA, and seeing 'field hands' which is polite speak for slaves left me uncomfortable + what's clearly former slave quarters for the 'field hands'.

      I appreciate that this is 2017, Louisiana has it's own culture, but in the context of USA history, i couldn't enjoy this post as i usually do.

      I appreciate the research that went into it, and the tower folly taken in isolation is a gem, but rest of it left me very uncomfortable.

      This was one design post i couldn't separate from historical reality.

      Given my specialty, i would prefer that these places were left as museums in the same way that we preserve them in Europe and in Africa rather than an opportunity for someone to update and be featured in a style /design blog.

      It's a complicated subject because some people will feel that i'm being over-sensitive, and they are probably right, but here is a thought for those people......by all means build a brand new house that copies the style of plantations just like the gentleman built a folly in the old style.

      That's a seperation i can live with, but i can't separate the rescued old slave quarters and plantations updated and modernised for modern living. It would be as uncomfortable as someone knocking down Auschwitz and using the bricks for a new building. Or turning the slave markets of Ghana into chic apartment buildings.

      Dear Joni, this isn't a judgement on your excellent work. This is purely my feeling and opinion.

      A Historian

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    6. Anon 2:14
      Okay, so tear down or turn into sacred sites all the homes in the South built before 1861?
      Sheila

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  10. Joni, you have the best decorating blog in the entire universe! I love everything you have ever posted about M. Smith. I love his style! Could you sometime do a blog just on his window treatments? They are spare by our standards but so beautiful. How does he do that? And who makes them?

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  11. The South that I grew up in, is almost gone. Being replaced with homogiized building that are the same no matter what part of the country you are in.
    I'm glad to see preservation of these humble abodes, that we used to call shacks and used to be all over the south. They are so entwined in the history (good and bad) of the rural south and need to remembered and if possible restored. At least in my neck of the woods, GA and Northern Fl. and I suspect all other parts of the south too they are pretty much gone or going fast.
    The Louisiana aspect of the antiques in the old houses does look like a movie set from The Vampire Lestat. And I mean that in a good romantic way. So dreamy!
    Awesome blog post!

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  12. I wonder if the dry palm branch on top of Alexandre Bienvenu DeVince portrait is from a palm Sunday ritual. My mom, who now is 97 yo, keeps her behind the main door into her apartment. Yes, she lives alone. Letty P.S.: This blog is addictive. It is helping me get over the flu.

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    1. Yes. It's a Palm Sunday ritual about honoring the dead. I believe. Not sure. But the palms behind the paintings
      Are from
      Palm Sunday.

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  13. Joni, thank you for the well researched posting - you are truly a historian and an educator at heart!
    So fascinating about your Mother in Law!
    M. Smith is a visionary and a genius.
    -Linda, NY

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  14. Fantastic post. You research like nobody's business! South Louisiana is so beautiful and charming. We love to visit down there. Who makes the"magic white"paint? Thanks, joni. Kay

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  15. What a remarkable and special place. It's wonderful to see such connoisseurship, as that sort of erudition has nearly disappeared. The tower house has to be unique in this country. Going there is like entering another world. Makes me want to take a trip! Thank you for such a complete and well illustrated story, Joni! Will you be seeing it in person?

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  16. Love the floor tiles! Thanks again, Joni, for a wonderful and original post!

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  17. I appreciate all the detail you put into these articles. I can only imagine how much time it takes to complete one. No one else on the web does such wonderful posts with so many pictures and information. Thank you.

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  18. What a post...wonderful & brings so many memories of my life in New Orleans as a Stockbroker for 30 years...a copy of those maps always had a proud place in our offices & you could point to your families land & say "This was our families plantation!" All except me since my Father was from Calif & my Mother from Oklahoma who were pioneers here in the 40's and bought lots of land on the Northshore of New Orleans. I now own a "plantation style mansion" filled with all of these French treasures and enjoy my retired Southern Lifestyle. So many stories I could tell of the people of Louisiana...when you manage money you hear all of them . I now take my granddaughter age 8 to visit and she loves it!! Will have to go visit his shop at Easter break with her. Thanks for all of your posts, Sherrill Kearney

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  19. Love this post. But the "...structure, such as a pavilion in a garden, that is chiefly decorative rather than practical in purpose" is spelled 'folly' as opposed to "folie." (Free Dictionary) Just an FYI.

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    1. Folie is the correct spelling in French. Remember, this is French culture, and many things are alluded to in French. So it is indeed, a 'folie.'

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    2. Robert uses the folie spelling and corrects me when I type follly. ;)

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  20. Another fabulous post by you! The story of M. Smith and how your husband and daughter ended up being related to him is amazing and proves once again, how small the world really is. He has created a magical plantation. The gardens are my favorite. Your research and attention to detail are second to none. Just a collection of this treasure hunts of yours would make a fabulous book. Thank you so much!

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    1. Meant to say: Just a collection of these treaure hunts of yours would make a fabulous book.

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  21. What a great and fascinating post!

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  22. Another home run Joni- what an enjoyable and informative read. I am fascinated by history and can never get enough. Louisiana is indeed unique in the United States- I adore New Orleans. We're off to Charleston this weekend, a city steeped in marvelous architecture and design and history. Cheers, J

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  23. Persac's paintings are beautiful. So charming! Loved reading this post. I'm always fascinated by what makes people rebuild time after time after weather damage. I think the love for the region and the historic is a good reason!

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  24. I love your blog entries ,just have to make sure I have my cup of coffee ready! I too appreciate history.
    Would you consider doing a review of the sets of the show "The Fued "a story of Betty Davis and Joan Crawford during the time of making the movie "What ever happened to baby Jane?" Sun. nights FX. You will love Joan Crawford s home. I know it's by famous designer but I can't remember the name . She has it all covered in plastic! She had some issues from her traumatic childhood holdover I guess. The sets are beautiful and actors all top rate. Thank you, Stephanie

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  25. I have read about this beautiful home before...and yet, despite its beauty I somehow feel the whole thing is kind of affected. One may want to revive the doceaur de vivre by living this way, but it has a brittle charm about it. There is a side of me which thinks...what a fantasy...and the other side, which says, what a fantasist. Also, it does have a certain Tour de Jeans Sans Peur about it--all that up and down. I believe my well spoken but common sense aunt would say, upon viewing this, "Oh, COME ON!"

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  26. I am very happy when read this blog post because blog post written in good manner and write on good topic. Thanks for sharing valuable information

    Bangalore Web Designing Company, Web Development Company Bangalore

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  27. What a delightful visit to this lovely home and shops.

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  28. http://www.curbed.com/2017/3/20/14983106/ellen-montecito-home-for-sale-portia-de-rossi-wallace-frost-john-saladino

    I'm trying not to weep at what they've done to the garden! I thought of you as soon as I saw the news, Joni.
    Michele

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  29. HOW did you ever connect Alexandre Bienvenu DeVince to your husband??? I am speechless! That's gold, just gold, right there. And, I never heard of Persac's maps-my grandparents owned a sugar plantation in Natchez (I am well aware of how people feel about slavery, etc. and do not condone that, but view it from a historical aspect). I don't see their name on your enlargement, and not sure where to find a larger copy. I have yet to find out exactly where the plantation was. In the early 70s, my mom was offered the plantation, but she refused it. Apparently, it cost too much for anyone to keep it. I wish I had been old enough to have a say in that. Here is a fascinating link to many plantations that are still standing. http://ashlandbelle.com/plantations.html

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