September 8, 2011

Oak Alley Plantation - A Haunted History

An (abridged) History

Located in Vacherie, Louisiana is Oak Alley Plantation, a home rich with history, hauntings, and beauty. The oldest oak trees on the ground of Oak Alley date back to the late 17th Century.



Classic image of the walk up to Oak Alley Plantation.

The plantation was constructed over a century later beginning in 1837, modeled after a Greek-revival style mansion. The plantation was originally given the name "Bon Sejour" by its owner Jacques Telesphore Roman III, a very wealthy sugar cane farmer, but the notorious oak lined walkway would later fetch the name "Oak Alley."

The property underwent many ownership changes throughout its history, including Jacques' son Henri. After the family lost the home during the Civil War, the subsequent owners did not keep the property up as well as they should have.

In 1925, Andrew and Josephine Stewart purchased the property and immediately saw its potential and appreciated its rich history. They began a restoration project of this massive plantation, which would prove to be the first of its kind and later start a trend in the south. It would not be until 1998 that the plantations 25 acres would open as a tourist destination and bed and breakfast.



Main dining room of the mansion at Oak Alley.
Source: hauntedamericatours.com

History of Despair

It is often said that ghosts or spirits linger about when they have unfinished business in their lifetime. If this is true, then Oak Alley must be a proverbial meeting place for the deceased.
  • Starting with the plantations first owner, who died in 1848 from TB alone in the home while his wife and family were taking one of their regular visits to New Orleans, the house has been full of sorrow and disappointment.
  • Louise Roman, the daughter of Jacques and Josephine, cut her leg while running away from an overzealous suitor during a party at the mansion. This cut would develop gangrene and require her to have the leg amputated. This devastated Louise. Someone of the upper-class could not have a disability of this magnitude. She became very depressed over her situation and would devote her life to serving the Lord by joining a convent. Before her death, she would move back into Oak Alley, which would be her final resting place.
  • Josephine Stewart, along with her husband Andrew, devoted her life to renovating Oak Alley and bringing it to glory once again. When she became very ill in her old age, she left all of her money as well as everything on the plantations 25 acres to the foundation that her and her husband had set up. This was to ensure that it would be properly cared for, until it could create enough revenue to run on its own.
All three of these owners, we could argue, have unfinished business on the plantation. Giving them plenty enough reason to want to hang around after their departure from this world.

National Historic Landmark sign leading up 
to the property at Oak Alley.
Source: steamboats.org

Ghastly Reportings

Oak Alley is not known for its haunting, unlike the nearby Myrtles Plantation, but there have been many reports by guests and staff to rationalize questions. Plantation homes, due to their rough nature, seem to be a common theme for ghost sighting and reports. Reports have come in that workers late at night often see a figure of a lady throughout the mansion.

After checking old photographs this lady is said to be either Josephine or Louise Roman. Tour guides also report seeing a figure of a man wearing a grey suit and riding boots, common apparel for Jacque Roman III, roaming the home as well as in a mirror. Another peculiar sighting was that believe to be Josephine Stewart, the last homeowner who really loved Oak Alley.

It was well known that Josephine's favorite room during her time at Oak Alley was the lavender room. This is fitting as staff have often reported seeing a woman sitting on the edge of the bed in this room. After being asked to identify the woman, the description fit Mrs. Stewart perfectly. Whether these apparitions are in fact the former inhabitants of this home will probably never be certain, but it is curious that the descriptions fit their profiles.

The plantation has also been investigated by numerous popular and well respected paranormal investigation teams. Including the Sci-Fi network's Ghost Hunters, and Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures teams. TAPS revealed that they believe the property to be haunted with "neat little activity". This was certainly not their most activity ridden investigation, but it did give a fundamental history and tour of the home.

Most of the reported "activity" has come from staff members of the plantation claiming to have been touched or feel an eerie presence around them while working night shifts. Whether this is simply a marketing device by the business or a legitimate playground for the paranormal, the property is absolutely spectacular.


Side view of the porch.
Source: Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley now functions as a bed and breakfast with hourly tours. It also serves as an extremely popular location for weddings due to the oak lined alley in front of the home creating a perfect backdrop.

(reblogged, with a few edits, from thebeast02.hubpages.com)