History, Louisiana

Whitney Plantation: Louisiana’s Bitter Legacy

In the fall of 2014, Whitney Plantation will be opened as a Louisiana history museum. A brief history behind the plantation shows it’s importance in the history of Louisiana itself.

A man named ”Ambroise Heidel” immigrated to Louisiana from Germany in 1721 with his wife and children. By 1752 Ambroise bought the land tract located 35 miles north of New Orleans in St. John the Baptist Parish and it became “Habitation Haydel”. It started as an indigo plantation. Later it became one of the largest sugar plantations in the territory. By 1790 Heidel’s son, Jean Jacques Haydel Sr., commissioned the building of the Creole style plantation house. The name was changed to Whitney after the plantation was sold in 1867 after the Civil War. The site is now dedicated to educating the public about slavery along the River Road.

The current owner, John Cummings, a trial lawyer turned preservationist, has spent more than $6 million of his own money on the restoration and supplies to tell the story about those slaves brought to the plantation from the coast of Africa and their descendants who toiled and lived there. When Mitch Landrieu visited as Lt governor, he compared Whitney Plantation compared the experience to visiting the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. “The whole state of Louisiana really is a museum,” he said. http://vimeo.com/8979392