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This was the main store at the plantation.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Magnolia Plantation - Cane River Creole NHP

5549 Highway 119 Derry, LA 71416
Open from 8:00am-4:00pm
318-379-9114 1.5 hours
December 2012 Fall, Winter, Spring
$0-9 Derry Louisiana
Website Historical Historic Sites
First review
Magnolia Plantation is a ten acre historic site with a number of buildings associated with a plantation and farm that operated here from the 1750s to the 1990s. It's one of two units in the Cane River Creole National Historic Park. Oakland Plantation is the other park property and is located about 12 miles away. Although Magnolia's main house is still privately owned and not open to the public, a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, overseer's house, slave cabins and a plantation store can be visited. Building access is generally more limited during the week and better on weekends when a park ranger is on site. Depending on staff levels, a guided tour may be available on weekends by request. A cell phone tour is available anytime.

Jean Baptiste LeComte I acquired Magnolia Plantation in 1753. He and his descendants built a thriving cotton plantation that became the leading cotton producing plantation in the parish up to the Civil War. As with many plantations in the area, Federal troops plundered and burned the property during the Civil War. The family's house was rebuilt in the 1890s in the same location as the prior one. As with Oakland Plantation, Magnolia was one of the few historic plantations/farms in the area to survive to present times. Also notable is that Jean LeComte's family continues to own local farmland to the present day. Farm laborers occupied the former slave cabins up till the 1970s, making them important historic leagacies. The park was established in 1994, and the property was opened to the public in 2001.

The first visit took place in February 2012 during the week, and most of the buildings were closed. The second visit in December 2012 was on a weekend, and there was better access. So weekends are the best time of week to come here if you have flexibility. Since the main house is not open, Magnolia is more about plantation and farm life than family history or furnishings. The overseer's house and slave hospital is a good place to start a visit because there is a video about the farm from 1939-1959, and this building also had the most historical information and displays. Furnishings though were totally absent. A large barn with an original and rare cotton gin/press is worth a look to see this novel machinery. It's the only one of its type left in the original location. While the huge gin was impressive, better signage and/or a video would have been a big help to understand how it operated. There were a few interpretive signs, but they were hard to read and overly technical. As for the 8 former slave cabins, only a few were open, and they were not especially interesting. There was no furniture, but one cabin did have a poster board with information about slave life. The blacksmith shop was open, but the blacksmith was not home. The last visit was to the plantation store. Chatting with a park ranger at the store helped to better understand it's importance to the local community for many years. It served as a traditional store, gathering spot, and source of information. As with Oakland Plantation, the store shelves were mostly empty, but some black and white photos of visitors over the generations provided some historical context. While the park service normally does a great job with presenting historical sites and providing related information, Magnolia came up short in accessibility, interpretive information and overall quality. It can be seen in about an hour, but most people will find Oakland Plantation to offer better value for their time.
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