Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

The 18th state of the Union, Louisiana received its statehood in 1812. Encompassing the area where the Mississippi-Missouri river system flows into the Gulf of Mexico, this Deep South state was formerly inhabited largely by indigenous communities, including members of the Woodland Culture who built Poverty Point, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the 17th century, the area was claimed by the French, who established the city of New Orleans in 1718. The influence of these French settlers is still very evident in Louisianian culture to this day, with Louisiana French the first language in several southern parts of the state. Sold to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the state later became one of the founders of the Confederacy in 1861.

Archaeology & History Sites in Louisiana

Bocage Plantation

Built in the Greek Revival style in 1837, the ‘Big House’ at Bocage Plantation was the design of famed architect James Dakin. Dakin’s structure replaced an earlier house, completed in the Creole style in 1801, which had been burned down amid a fire. Like many of the plantation houses in this part of Louisiana, the main house at Bocage Plantation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The plantation was also used as one of the sets in the award-winning 2013 blockbuster film 12 Years a Slave.

Destrehan Plantation

The oldest documented plantation home in the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Desrehan Plantation was established in 1787. Its name derives from its founder, Jean Baptiste Honore Destrehan, a Frenchman who became treasurer of the French Louisiana colony. The plantation was home to many enslaved people and it was here that one of the three trials following the Slave Revolt of 1811 took place. Amid Confederate defeat in the Civil War, the U.S. Army occupied the plantation and here established the Rost Home Colony to teach trades to the newly freed people.

Evergreen Plantation

One of the best-preserved plantations in Louisiana, the Evergreen Plantation still has not only its ‘Big House’ but also an orate privy, stables, a kitchen, and 22 slave cabins. The plantation house was first built in 1790 although transformed into a Greek Revival structure in 1832, subsequently undergoing considerable renovation in the 1940s. Today, Evergreen remains in private ownership and is actively used for the production of sugarcane. Its management takes particular interest in researching the lives of those who lived here, including many of its enslaved residents.

Houmas House

Taking its name from the indigenous Houma people who once lived in this area beside the River Mississippi, Houmas House became one of Louisiana’s most lavish residences during the 19th century. Like many Louisiana plantations, it was used largely to grow sugarcane, at one point being owned by John Burnside, a wealthy landowner known as “the Sugar Prince.” Although undergoing changes at various points in its history, Houmas House predominantly reflects the Federal style of architecture. The building remains a private residence although is open to visitors by guided tour.

Laura Plantation

Standing on the west bank of the Mississippi River near Vacherie, the Laura Plantation was one of a number of wealthy farms that flourished here in the 19th century. The main house is of an early 19th-century Créole style; various historic outbuildings survive, including two timber cabins where enslaved labourers resided. The parents of the famous singer Fats Domino lived on the plantation. Laura Plantation is now a heritage attraction open to the public.

Laura Plantation

Standing on the west bank of the Mississippi River, Laura Plantation lies on land once home to an indigenous Colapissa village. The area was settled by French-speaking Acadians in the late 18th century before Guillaume Duparc, a veteran of the American Revolution, purchased it in 1804. The Duparc Plantation remained in the hands of his Francophone descendants for several generations; they renamed it the Laura Plantation late in the 19th century. Hundreds of enslaved people and their descendants also lived here, including the ancestors of Rock n’ Roll pianist Fats Domino.

Malus-Beauregard House

Built in a Neo-Classical style in the 1830s, Malus-Beauregard House is now part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Having fallen into a state of disrepair by the mid-20th century, in the 1960s the National Park services oversaw its restoration. The house stands atop the site where the Battle of New Orleans was fought between the British and Americans in 1815, part of the larger War of 1812. As well as the house, the battlefield also contains a reconstructed battle rampart and the Chalmette Monument, a 100-foot high obelisk.

Nottoway Plantation

Built in 1859, the ‘Big House’ at Nottoway Plantation reflects Italianate and Greek Revival influences and remains the largest surviving structure of its kind from the Antebellum period. Designed by the New Orleans architect Henry Howard, Nottoway was created as a home for the wealthy John Hampden Randolph. Amid the Civil War, it was occupied by the Union Army. Today, Nottoway Plantation is primarily used as a hotel and private event space, although visitors can still explore the property on one of the guided tours given several times a week.

Oak Alley Plantation

A National Historic Landmark, Oak Alley Plantation stands on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Jacques Télesphore Roman took ownership of the plantation in the 1830s and oversaw construction of the ‘Big House’ on the site, completed in the Greek Revival style. The plantation takes its name from its impressive alley of southern live oak trees planted here in the early 18th century. The grounds also contain a formal garden set out in the 1920s, displays about enslaved residents, and the 19th-century headstone of the Roman family.

Ormond Plantation

Completed in a French colonial style, the main house at Ormond Manor Plantation was built in the 1780s by Pierre D’Trepagnier, who had recently received the land around it from the Spanish authorities. The plantation itself was used to grow indigo, a crop later replaced with sugarcane. In 1805, U.S. Army Colonel Richard Butler purchased the property and renamed it after Castle Ormonde in Ireland, his ancestral family home. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is used as a bed and breakfast and private events space.

Museums & Art Galleries in Louisiana

Louisiana History Museum

The Louisiana History Museum in Alexandria explores the history of the Bayou State, with a particular focus on its central region. It occupies a building dating from 1907 which initially served as the Alexandria Public Library. The museum was established in 1971 and brings together collections covering a broad range of themes, including the Native peoples of Louisiana, the periods of Spanish, French and British rule, as well as the Civil War.