Nottoway Plantation and Resort is a 19th Century estate located in White Castle, La. and dates back to the 1850’s and The Civil War Era. Nottoway is the largest remaining antebellum plantation in the south and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nottoway is a three-story historical sugarcane estate and sits on 15 acres and measures 53,000 sq. Ft.
Nottoway mansion features both grand Greek Revival and Italianate architecture. The rich country estate has 200 windows, 165 doors, 64 rooms, 12 mantles, seven staircases, and five galleries. Nottoway is an AAA Four Diamond inn and operates as a B&B, wedding venue, and museum. Nottoway offers guided and self-guided tours and is a favorite venue for romantic southern weddings.
History of the Antebellum Plantation
Nottoway was built in 1859 by the Randolph family and encompassed 6,200 acres. Mr. Randolph had the home built for 80,000 and paid in full in cash. Nottoway today is worth approximately 4 million dollars. The estate consisted of the mansion, slave quarters, schoolhouse, greenhouse, horse stables and more. Nottoway was once a cotton plantation, and John Randolph converted it to a sugarcane plantation.
John Randolph and his wife Emily had 11 children. Sometime in 1886, After Mr. Randolph’s passing, Mrs. Randolph moved from the mansion and sold most of the property, excluding the swamps. Landry & Dugas were the new owners and purchased the home for 50,000.
Nottoway was resold in 1899 for 100,00. The estate was sold again shortly in 1913 for 63,000. Nottoway was sold yet again in a partnership for 63,000 and sold back again in 1913 where it went for a few thousand at a sheriffs sale to Surgeon General, Dr. Whyte Owen. He tried to operate it as a sugarcane farm once again and decided to keep the mansion and surrounding areas and sell off the remaining of his 1193 acres. Into the 20th century, the Owen family were the homeowners and Mr. Owen’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Odessa Owen, decided to sell the home once again. She sold the house for 720,000 to Mr. Arlin Dease, with one contingency…
The last surviving heir eventually struck a deal of a lifetime. She stated she wished to live in one of the house quarters until her death. He agreed, and she lived out the rest of her years in this very house as promised.
In 1985, Nottoway was sold to a wealthy Austrailian man, Sir Paul Ramsey who still owns the estate to this day. Mr. Ramsey is the chairman of Ramsey Health Care and operates 72 hospitals, elder care facilities, and psychiatric hospitals. He also is the largest stakeholder, and he also operates 13 stations with Prime television.
Life on the Plantation
The Randolph family owned many slaves who worked in the crops. During the tour, I learned that at one time the slaves were released during the emancipation signing and many left, but about 53 decided to stay and work for Mr. Randolph. Without the pay increases, they were promised more slaves left in search of better wages. Many slaves left for personal freedoms and others in search of other house families to serve like the Randolph’s.
Randolph owned 176 slaves and was one of the largest slaveholders in the south. Harvesting sugarcane is physically demanding, and many slaves worked double shifts in the fields. Many slaves were expected to cook, clean, plow the fields, plant sugar cane, cut stalks and more. It is disheartening to reflect with an open heart the working and living conditions of our past generations.
We purchased tickets online and headed out of the city towards the country. Nottoway is located somewhere between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. When you arrive, you enter through the gift shops to purchase tickets or present your advanced tickets. You then advise if you would like a guided tour or a self-guided tour.
Tours begin every hour on the hour. You then proceed out through the gift shop into the house grounds. Our guide was Brock, and he was entertaining and informative. The guides are dressed in period attire. In October, Nottoway begins it’s haunted nighttime tours. I look forward to returning in the chilly fall weather for another ghostly tour of the property! They also hold Murder Mystery Dinner Theater shows.
One of my favorite stories about the Randolph family retold by our guide was one of Mrs. Randolph and the pineapples. Being as the Randolph’s were very wealthy and had a massive mansion, they would often host many visitors and guests for extended stays. Mrs. Randolph loved pineapples and was known to give her guests a fresh cut pineapple after supper. When guests have upset Mrs. Randolph, she will give her guests a whole pineapple in an attempt to watch them try to cut it themselves to eat. She would leave them to their struggle and retire for the evening. When a houseguest received an entire pineapple, they understood that they had upset the lady of the house.
Nottoway operates as a Bed and Breakfast and wedding venue and features 64 rooms, guest cottages and carriage houses, and honeymoon suites on three floors and outdoor rooms. Guests can retire in The Mansion, The Boys Wing, The Garden House, The Suites, The Cottages, or The Carriage House. Furnishings include antique Victorian Queen beds, Mahogany four-poster beds, jacuzzis, and a parlor. Other amenities include a brides quarters, salon and spa, a crystal ballroom, a southern restaurant and cafe, outdoor pool and tennis court.
Nottoway has nestled about 200 ft. from the banks of the Mississippi River. Nottoway estate consists of 620 acres of land including Mississipi River-front land, highland, and swamplands. We crossed the grounds of the mansion and walked up the side of the levee. The splendid views from the back of the home are remarkable. From the top of the ridge, you can see panoramic views of the mighty Mississippi. From this side of the house, you can see the natural beauty of the property. There is a multitude of towering Oak and Spanish moss trees offering shade, and quiet moments of reflection.
The front entrance has a stunning circular fountain and angelic statues. The Iris pond behind the home features a beautiful white wooden bridge, fountain, and sculpture. The exterior of the mansion features a three-story Rotunda and 22 large white columns and posts. The balconies have outdoor furniture for rest and offer mesmerizing views of the antique home and large manicured property. I was able to leisurely tour the upper galleries and second story porches.
Fountain Garden Courtyard
Nottoway mansion houses a multitude of vintage furniture and antiques. I admire the lavish details of the rooms such as the crown molding along the ceilings, Corinthian columns with hand-cast arches, velvet drapes, porcelain doorknobs, brass and ceramic furnishings, and Italian marble fireplaces. The ceilings are an astonishing 15.5 Ft. high and the doors are 11 ft. The music room features a gorgeous angelic harp and piano.
The dining room features hand-painted delicate China dishes and a large solid wood dining room table. The lady of the house had a tea room where dames of times past huddled around over delicate teacups and shared ladies stories. Mrs. Randolph was quite mistrusting of others and was known to stow her valuables in a stocking which she would hide away in the bedposts.
The man of the house had a grand gentleman’s study where he could leisurely read or perhaps smoke cigars and banter with his comrades. The children’s rooms displayed little beds such as the rooms in the house with simple furnishings in contrast to the rest of the house. The house also had all indoor plumbing which shows the affluence of the family at a time where many used outhouses.
The White Ballroom
Other places to visit:
The Mansion Resturant
With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy
“…there ain’t no journey what don’t change you some.”