"The Big House [at Oak Alley] was a gift from Jacques Telesphore Roman (1800-1848), a wealthy Creole sugar planter, to his bride Celina (1816-1866). Believed to have been designed by Celina's father, Gilbert Joseph Pilie and constructed primarily by slave labor under the direction of building contractor, George Swainey. This splendid Greek Rival [sic] style principal house and its dependencies took three years (1837 to 1839) to complete. Most of the basic materials were found or manufactured on the plantation with finishing details imported from other parts of the United States and Europe." (from Oak Alley brochure)
Celina, his wife, 16 years younger
Brandy soaked fruit in large jar for women who were not supposed to drink strong liquors.
Below our guide through the house, full of stories about what life was like.
Not sure why he dressed in a Confederate uniform.
The dining room.
The Romans were a large family who liked to entertain each other.
A youth would sit in the corner and gently pull this device for a breeze.
I think these two rooms were on the first floor.
There was a third floor, too.
Upstairs are more bedrooms.
Not much is original to the time the Romans lived here, except that cradle and the small chair.
View from upstairs through the alley.
Jacques and Celina's daughter Louise is pictured on the left.
After the death of Celina in 1866 the house went through nine owners with the last ones being the Stewarts who restored it, modified it and upon the death of Josephine Stewart in 1972 set up the Oak Alley Foundation to preserve it.
Celina did not take to living at Oak Alley. She had grown up in New Orleans and the plantation was a far cry from the activities of the city. Once she produced some children she remained in New Orleans rarely coming to visit her husband who was then dying of tuberculosis.
"The Roman Family tombstone was discovered in the 1990s resting upside down in a garden at the Carmelite Order Convent in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
In the 1880s, Jacques and Celina's daughter Louise had the original family marker removed from the Family Tomb at the 'St. Louis No. 3' cemetery in New Orleans. Louise, Mother Superior of the Order at the time, then had a new marker placed listing the Carmelite nuns she allowed to be buried in her family tomb." (from Oak Alley brochure)