Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slave Plantation

Last month during our Louisiana trip we spent an afternoon about an hour outside of New Orleans to experience a slave plantation in Wallace, Louisiana. The Whitney Plantation was built by African slaves and opened up as a museum a couple years ago to share the lives and stories of the slaves who were on the plantation and throughout the South. It was a very moving experience and one of the first times I have ever felt any connection to my African American roots.

As a biracial girl who was raised primarily by my mother (who is white) and me having very fair skin, I’ve always had an extremely hard time connecting to my African American roots. People like to think of it as a game when they learn I’m biracial and some even accuse me of lying. I have features like thick, naturally curly hair and other facial characteristics but knowing so little about that side, it seemed to fade and I never had the chance to learn or connect with it. Exploring this plantation I felt a really deep and unexpected connection that I’ve never had before to this side of my ancestry. Some more thoughts on this at the end of the post.

ANTICH BAPTIST CHURCH

We began our tour at the Antich Baptist Church. The one on-site is a donated structure but the church was the only African-American church in the surrounding area for many years. When you walk in you’re greeted by the Children of Whitney, sculptures made to depict enslaved children all around the property by artist Woodrow Nash.

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slave Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slave Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slave Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slave Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

The installation is a really striking part of the museum. It contributed to the experience and makes the entire thing feel much more real. When you sign up you’re given these small cards with different names, a quote, and a photo of one of these sculptures. The quotes are all different and from former slaves. When you enter the church you can match up the photo on your card to one of the sculptures and it brings the whole installation to life as you now put a face and a passage to one of these figures.

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slave Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slave Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slave Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Part of the Allées Gwendolyn Midlo Hall Memorial. The plantation has this huge memorial dedicated to those who were enslaved in Louisiana. I took many photographs but I’m a bit wary of sharing them here as some of the stories are very graphic for this particular blog. Reading them was quite surreal as you start to put together the very real truth that people treated other people in this manner. We hear about it and study it in history but walking this path painted a very honest and depressing picture about what happened on this property. I was really moved and would have liked to spend more time focusing on it.

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slave Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

The Field of Angels, a memorial dedicated to the slave children in Louisiana who passed away while enslaved.

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Slave cabins.

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

The Big House

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

I must say the Big House is very beautiful. The gardens and trees that line it are really stunning and everything you would expect from a classic southern plantation. And you can’t deny they are stunning to look at!  It’s said to be one of the best-preserved examples of “Spanish Creole architecture”. You can also get a glimpse of the inside as you go from the back to the front of the home, including up to the second-floor balcony where you get a really amazing landscape view of the entire property.

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

Experience Louisiana: Whitney Slavery Plantation | History and Tours in Louisiana | Bexpeditions.com

The tour came with many historic explanations which were extremely helpful to learn more about what was happening at that particular time. Another, newer Memorial recently opened as well but they were very adamant about letting people choose whether or not they wanted to see it as it could be considered graphic. I decided to follow that advice here and not post photographs of it. They were individual sculptures of just rows of heads with the names of those who were executed as part of the 1811 German Coast Uprising revolt. Those who were executed had their heads on display as a scare tactic to other slaves so the museum was recreating that in its Memorial.

PERSONAL Thoughts

It was a really strange feeling that washed over me while reading the passages about these people. A bit of disbelief as to what I was reading as well as the realization that my ancestors were probably part of this. That was something I never truly acknowledged and I felt it heavily while touring this museum which was unexpected. I’m not sure if my connection was a result of this unexplored side of my race and ancestry or if it was just such a beautifully put together tour but does it matter? It was a very moving experience. I am still reflecting while writing this but it felt important to share it with you. It’s not the most uplifting of activities but I would really recommend it for anyone looking to see and really experience a southern plantation.

My dress was picked up from Vintage-Vogue, a small dress shop in Luebeck, Germany.

The Whitney Plantation Website.


In other news: Our Little Black Book for Louisiana is almost done! Make sure to sign up for our Postcard Club to know when it’s ready. You’ll see my favorite places to eat, more experiences and upcoming events happening in New Orleans and Louisiana.

xo, Rebecca

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Comments

  • Rhiannon

    Written on June 3, 2017

    Reply

    This was a great post to read. I had no idea that this place existed, and although the story behind it and its history is devastating, it’s hard to deny how beautiful it is! Especially the Big House. Such a gorgeous and green place to visit. I’m glad you were able to connect to your African American roots. Thank you for sharing this post! Your photos are wonderful, too!

    • rebecca

      Written on June 3, 2017

      Reply

      I agree, Rhiannon and thank you very much! I found out about it through close family friends who were going to take a day trip and we happened to tag along but I’m so glad we did! It was such an interesting and unique experience!

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Sarah Shumate

    Written on June 3, 2017

    Reply

    Beautiful photos! Looks like a fascinating museum! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts at the end, too. Sounds like some digging into your ancestry is in order! 🙂

    • rebecca

      Written on June 3, 2017

      Reply

      Haha, I think so, Sarah! I Definitely will have to do more digging on that side! There is a lot to learn!

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Karen

    Written on June 3, 2017

    Reply

    This was really moving. I have been and I also found it to be quite a powerful place as well. Really love your photos and enjoyed your perspective on it.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 3, 2017

      Reply

      Thank you, Karen! That’s so great that you have been and found it to be really powerful as well.

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Sona

    Written on June 4, 2017

    Reply

    Churches are very serene. I love the courtyard, greenery and tranquility in this area. It makes me want to go there again and again.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 6, 2017

      Reply

      As sad as the history is here it was a serene place! It did feel quite peaceful walking around the grounds.

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Amber

    Written on June 4, 2017

    Reply

    I know visiting had to be an emotional and powerful experience. The statues inside the church were especially moving.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 6, 2017

      Reply

      I must say those statues inside were way more powerful and created a much stronger reaction inside of me than I had expected. It was a really moving experience.

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Melissa @ Think About Such Things

    Written on June 4, 2017

    Reply

    First off your pictures are amazing. I would have loved to visit there with my camera. It’s amazing when you visit a place that has a piece of you in history. It’s like something is awakened. I hope you can discover more of ancestry and history!

    • rebecca

      Written on June 6, 2017

      Reply

      Thank you, Melissa! You are so right – something inside definitely awakened and I’m really grateful I got to have this experience. I think I will really have to look more into my ancestry on this side. Thank you for your kind words!

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Erica

    Written on June 4, 2017

    Reply

    It really is inconceivable that there were people were were born into, and then died in slavery. And it’s sad that we don’t have that many personal accounts from slaves. So it’s nice that there are places like this that can take us back a little bit and remind us of what happened. I honestly haven’t spent much time in the south, but this seems worth a visit.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 6, 2017

      Reply

      You’re so right, Erica! They only just started collecting these stories I believe in the 1930s so many anecdotes came from those who were enslaved as children. I would really recommend it if you can make the drive outside the city.

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Melanie

    Written on June 4, 2017

    Reply

    I absolutely adore looking at historical buildings. I think Louisiana’s are some of the most beautiful and even a little morbid (which this goth girl likes!) Gorgeous photos and story.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 6, 2017

      Reply

      Louisiana has some really beautiful architecture that you can’t get anywhere else! Some of the homes here are truly breathtakingly gorgeous! Thank you, Melanie!

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Theresa

    Written on June 4, 2017

    Reply

    This looks like such an interesting experience! I’m always looking for unique places to learn about history.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 8, 2017

      Reply

      I hope you get the chance to see it for yourself one day, Theresa! Definitely a place for those interested in history.

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Shoshana Sue

    Written on June 5, 2017

    Reply

    What a nice way to remember the former slaves by giving out cards with their quotes on them. It is a touching experience and I had no clue of its existence. What an interesting and rich way to connect with the African American roots

    • rebecca

      Written on June 8, 2017

      Reply

      It was truly a beautiful experience and I agree on the cards! It was a small detail that helped the whole experience become more powerful.

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • daniella

    Written on June 5, 2017

    Reply

    I love New Orleans! I went to Oak Alley when I was a teenager with my mom and grandparents and will never forget it.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 8, 2017

      Reply

      I haven’t been to Oak Alley but I’ve heard much about it! It’s really close to this one so I’ll have to make a stop by there next time.

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Donna

    Written on June 5, 2017

    Reply

    These images are simply breathtaking! What a sacred and amazing experience to walk that plantation. My family was mostly in Alabama. I would love to visit this if I ever get down to NOLA.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 8, 2017

      Reply

      Thank you, Donna! I hope you get to visit one day!

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Heather

    Written on June 5, 2017

    Reply

    Your pictures are beautiful! I would love to visit with my daughters for an educational experience. This looks like a great cultural experience so deep in history.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 8, 2017

      Reply

      Thank you for your kind words, Heather! As we were leaving it seemed like a group of children were about to start touring so that would be a great idea I think! I hope you get to do that with them!

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Amanda

    Written on June 5, 2017

    Reply

    Wow, what beautiful photos and such a moving post! Really loved hearing your thoughts at the end too! I’m half white and Asian but everyone initially thinks I’m just white. I don’t really know many other Asians but I do try to cling on to my Asian roots as much as I can and I love introducing Asian culture to my friends that have never really been exposed to it.

    • rebecca

      Written on June 9, 2017

      Reply

      That’s great that you teach your friends about your culture and treasure it so deeply! I am definitely interested in learning more about mine so I can have it and share it with my future children one day!

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Angie

    Written on June 5, 2017

    Reply

    Wow, so much history in this location. I’ve always wanted to travel to Louisiana and experience the nature (flowers, trees, wildlife) first hand. I’m from New England, and it’s an extremely different climate. It’s devastating to know about that tragedies of the past at such a beautiful place. The statue really hit me. What a powerful message it sends. I enjoyed reading your perspective and looking at your stunning photos!

    • rebecca

      Written on June 9, 2017

      Reply

      Thanks so much, Angie. That means a lot to me. I’m a New England girl too and I agree you don’t see this kind of land and trees as you do in Louisiana. It’s stunning! New England does get all four seasons though which I would miss if I moved back down south.

      Best,
      Rebecca

  • Chelsea Damon

    Written on June 6, 2017

    Reply

    Wow, this place is so beautiful and eerie at the same time. I would love to visit. What a great reminder for us of what slaves went through!

    • rebecca

      Written on June 12, 2017

      Reply

      Thank you for your words, Chelsea! It wasn’t all that eerie to be honest – despite the tragic things that happened it has a really calm and open sense about it as you walk through. It is such a beautiful yet powerful tribute!

      Best,
      Rebecca

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