Whitney Plantation Historic District

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.[4]

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; 217 years ago (1803)
Architectural styleFederal, French Creole
MPSLouisiana's French Creole Architecture MPS
NRHP reference No.92001566[1]
Added to NRHPNovember 24, 1992[2][3]


The plantation is a 2,000-acre property, mainly occupied by the museum[4] which opened 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.[5][6] The director of research is Dr. Ibrahima Seck, a Senegalese scholar specializing in the history of slavery.[4] The grounds contain imaginative exhibits and original art commissioned by Cummings, such as life-size sculptures of children. The sculptures are representative of people born into slavery before the Civil War, many of whom were interviewed as adults for the Federal Writers Project during the Great Depression. These oral histories of hundreds of the last survivors of slavery in the United States 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.[7][4]

The French Creole raised-style[2][3] main house, built in 1803, is the most important architectural example in the state. The plantation has numerous outbuildings or "dependencies": a pigeonnier or dovecote, a plantation store, the only surviving French Creole barn in Louisiana, and slave quarters. The quarters were moved from another plantation but are typical of the those originally on Whitney.[8] The complex includes three archaeological sites[2][3] which have had varying degrees of exploration.

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.[8] Some of the extensive land is still planted with sugarcane.

The Whitney Plantation historic district was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1992.[2][3] It is one of 26 sites featured on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.

In popular cultureEdit

A memorial to the 1811 German Coast uprising of slaves

Scenes from the 2012 Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained were filmed on and around the plantation.[5] The Atlantic magazine made a short documentary video about the museum in 2015, Why America Needs a Slavery Museum.[6] The 2018 video game Red Dead Redemption 2 has a recreation of the Whitney Plantation.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d "Whitney Plantation Historic District". National Historic Places Register. Retrieved August 3, 2020 – via National Register Database, Louisiana.
  3. ^ a b c d "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. October 13, 1992. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Amsden, David (February 26, 2015). "Building the First Slavery Museum in America". New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Kaminsky, Jonathan (January 17, 2015). "Harsh world of slavery focus of Louisiana plantation museum". Reuters. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Rosenfeld, Paul (August 25, 2015). "Why America Needs a Slavery Museum". The Atlantic.
  7. ^ "Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 to 1938". Library of Congress.
  8. ^ a b "Whitney Plantation Historic District". Travel Itinerary, National Park Service. National Park Service. Retrieved August 3, 2020.

External linksEdit