First and only slavery museum to open in LouisianaBreaking News
tags: slavery, Museum, Whitney Plantation
At Whitney Plantation, one of the antebellum estates that line the Great River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the architectural centerpiece is a Creole-style main house where hand-painted ceilings are adorned with flowers and vines. Out front are a matching pair of pigeonniers and an alley of oak trees whose branches theatrically drag the ground.
It’s easy to imagine a typical moonlight-and-magnolias tour unfolding here, with guides in hoop skirts expounding on the antiques — except that Whitney’s owner, John Cummings, will have none of that.
“Who in the hell built this house?” Cummings thundered recently while ferrying a couple of visitors around Whitney’s 250 acres in a golf cart through the rain. “Who built this son of a bitch? We have to own our history.”
During its economic heyday, Whitney Plantation encompassed 1,700 acres, most of it planted in sugarcane. The Haydel family who founded the estate was one of the largest slaveholders in Louisiana. In 1860, they owned 101 black slaves, all of them listed on a household inventory according to first names, ages, genders, complexions, skill sets and countries of origin. Two of the 101 were maroons, or runaways, presumed to be hiding in a nearby swamp.
On Dec. 7, if all goes well, Cummings will open the 1790s plantation to the public as America’s first and only museum of slavery...