One of the last few remaining sugar plantations in the South, St. Joseph Plantation is a must-visit for anyone looking for an authentic Southern experience. Built in 1830, the largely preserved house offers a fascinating look into plantation life in pre-Civil War America, when the sugar industry was booming.
St. Joseph Plantation was built for the Scioneaux family using slave labor. Gabriel Valcour Aime, known as the Louis XIV of Louisiana, later bought it for his daughter when she married. After the Civil War, it was sold to the Waguespack family, who have retained ownership ever since.
Visitors can tour the house and its manicured grounds, see the cabins where the family’s slaves lived, and explore interesting exhibits detailing what life was like on the plantation both for the slaves who worked the sugar fields and the wealthy owners that lived here. Visitors often combine a trip here with a visit to the Museum of Slavery or visit as part of a plantations tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Admission to the plantation is via paid ticket.
- Discounted tickets are available for students, youths, seniors, and active military. Children under 5 go free.
- A visit to St. Joseph’s connected sister plantation, Felicity, is included in the ticket price.
- The renowned architect Henry Hobson Richardson was born here in 1838.
- Throughout October, the plantation hosts daily “mourning tours” detailing the Creole customs and rituals that used to be observed after the death of a family member.
- Parts of the movie 12 Years a Slave were filmed at the Felicity plantation.
How to Get There
St. Joseph Plantation is located at 3535 Highway 18 in Vacherie, 50 miles (80 kilometers) outside New Orleans. Most people opt to visit as part of a tour with transport provided, or by car. There is free parking at the plantation. Access via public transport is difficult.
When to Get There
St. Joseph Plantation is open from Thursday to Tuesday. It is closed on Wednesdays and major holidays. Guided tours depart on the hour from 10am–3pm, with tours early in the day tending to be quieter.
Museum of Slavery
Gain insight into what life was like for the slaves who spent their days working in the fields and homes of plantation owners at the nearby Whitney Plantation’s Museum of Slavery. Through first-person narratives, the museum aims to present a true picture of the often terrible conditions in which the enslaved people lived and the many hardships they had to endure.