Seventy-five years ago, the Morning Advocate’s Claire L. Gueymard penned a feature story about the Oakland antebellum home in the rolling East Feliciana hills near Ethel. Her story began with a line about the home being “as sound today as ever, after more than 105 years.” The story today could begin with the same line, except the numbers would different. Do the math: in 15 years Oakland will be 200 years old. But surrounded by centuries old live oaks, it’s as beautiful today as it ever was.
In fact, much of the home is exactly the way it was in 1827, when Judge Thomas W. Scott built the 3-story Carolina I style home out of virgin heart pine cut from East Feliciana forests surrounding the property near Ethel. Scott built the home on the highest ground he could find, settling on a spot 300 feet above sea level at the top of a hill off La. 963 just north of the “Ethel Crossroads” at La. 10 and La. 19. Tradition holds that Scott’s daughter, Minerva, carried home a pocketful of acorns and buried them in the yard. Today, those acorns are 18 majestic live oaks that are nearly two centuries old, still standing guard around the tall, timeless home.
The owners of Oakland, which was named after Oakland College in Mississippi, have retained and maintained much of the home’s original wood on floors and walls, and the residence is a slice of Louisiana history. That fact was not lost on the U.S. Department of Interior, which officially listed the Oakland Plantation Home on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
There are actually several buildings on the 22-acre estate: the historic main house, a tin-roofed building that once housed the home’s kitchen and formal dining room, a barn, a dairy barn, a carport made from the beams of the old smoke house, and a pump house for the water well. The brick building that once housed the kitchen, formal dining room and a 40 x 30 foot upstairs bunkhouse resembles a museum, with exhibits of the way things were in the early 1800s. Original brick floors and fireplaces remain, and the rooms are used today for cooking and entertaining. The kitchen still has the original open hearth fireplace, as well as a fascinating mechanical rotisserie that uses a sandbag counterweight to keep a mechanism turning the meat over red hot coals. Visiting this building is a fascinating step back in time.
The main house has a wide central corridor with a sitting room just inside the transomed front entrance, and a sunroom at the other end. The back porch offers a half-mile view of rolling East Feliciana hills. Most of the original wood framed wavy-glass windows are original to the home. Open the front entrance and the back doors, and the wide central corridor becomes a breezeway that kept things cool long before four central air conditioning units were installed in the modernized version of Oakland.
To the left of the entrance is the formal dining room, a big room with an original fireplace that still has the original brass fireplace fender. Across the hall is formal living room, with another original fireplace and wainscoted walls of Federal beaded board. Today’s kitchen has curly cypress cabinets and another old masonry fireplace. Fireplaces in the home total six, including two in bedrooms upstairs. There’s a downstairs master bedroom with a fireplace and three six-over-six wood windows to the back of the property. At one end of the home is Judge Scott’s old office, still used as an office today with two floor-to-ceiling walls of bookcases.
One of many neat features in the home is a hidden stairwell between the dining room and the central corridor. Doors hide the stairs on both sides. From the second floor, another concealed staircase rises to the third floor, where there’s a playroom, a full bath and a large loft bedroom. For safety, each floor has its own water supply and fire hose.
Only a privileged few families have had the opportunity to own Oakland in the past 185 years. But now, the opportunity exists for a new family to join that exclusive club. Who will supervise the next 100 years of history in this beautiful East Feliciana home?
Address: 6165 La. 963, Ethel
Lot size: 22.3 acres
Living area: 4,359 square feet
Baths: Four full, one partial
Marketing agent: Paul Burns
Contact phone: 225-752-3100
Copyright © 2015, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved