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Front porch was wide and comfortable.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Oakland Plantation - Cane River Creole NHP

4386 Highway 494 Bermuda, LA 71456
Grounds open 8am-4pm. House tour is at 1pm; more house tours may be available.
318-356-8441 2 hours
February 2012 Fall, Winter, Spring
$0-9 Bermuda Louisiana
Website Historical Homes
First review
 
Oakland Plantation is a 63 acre historic site that was once a cotton plantation and more recently a family farm. Oakland is one of two units in the Cane River Creole National Historical Park. Magnolia Plantation is the other park area and is located about 12 miles from Oakland. The Cane River Park is part of a larger Cane River National Heritage Area which has a variety of historical sites and recreational areas. The Oakland site features a historic home, general goods store, and a number of outbuildings associated with the plantation and farm operation from approximately 1820-1950. There are also some picnic areas.

Louisiana was a crossroads of cultures and languages in the 1600-1700s. The mixing of French, French Canadian, English, Indian and Spanish led to a Creole culture that included distinctive accents, foods, music and traditions. Around 1790 Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme settled near the Cane River on a property called Bermuda but would later become known as Oakland Plantation. Initially tobacco was the important cash crop, but this soon gave way to cotton. Slavery was critical in making large scale cotton farming practical as picking cotton was very labor intensive. Many plantations were established in the area leading up to the Civil War, and many were then destroyed in the conflict. Oakland survived though and transitioned to a sharecropping approach. Former slaves stayed on and continued picking cotton in the same fields. A general store and post office helped the Prud’homme family hang onto the farm during the Great Depression. Mechanization became widespread on cotton farms after World War II, which led most sharecroppers to leave. The farm continued on but on a smaller scale. After the US created the park and heritage area in 1994, the last Prud-hommes left Oakland in 1998.

The word “plantation” is a bit misleading in regard to this historic site because it tends to suggest a Gone with the Wind type of opulent mansion and extensive cotton fields. Oakland is much more modest. Also, since the house was lived in from the 1820s-1990s, it’s an odd mix of old and new. By and large, it appears like a house from the 1960s or 1970s but with some historic furniture such as canopy beds and tables and chairs. The house is the main attraction at Oakland, and it’s only open via a guided tour. Therefore, it’s best to check on tour times in advance. The park service guarantees at least one house tour per day, usually at 1:00. The tour focused mainly on the rooms and furnishings relative to the family. It was generally interesting though, especially for those into antiques and furnishings. The general store was worth a look, but all the shelves were empty. As for the rest of the property, a barn, sharecropper’s cabin and carpenter shop all were open at the time. They can be seen quickly and also were worth visiting to get a better sense of farm life. A cell phone tour is available and was helpful, but Oakland really could benefit from more interpretive signage of both buildings and farm life. Also, a museum and orientation movie would be great additions. Since such information and facilities were lacking, it was difficult to get a good historical perspective. While the visit was not a dud, this site works best for those into history and homes relative to a general audience. A regional music festival is held here each May, and usually draws several hundred people.
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guyonthego
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