Endangered Places and Fragile Artifacts Thursday, Jun 30 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

The following message from Jean Carter expresses so well our sense of loss, as members of APHN, when the Kate Chopin House burned on October 1, 2008.

“I am sending you (the Kate Chopin International Society) several of my photos of the tragic fire that destroyed this wonderful residence and all of its contents. The entire Cloutierville community has suffered a tremendous loss much akin to the death of a beloved family member.

“The historical and cultural heritage of this region will never be the same, and because this tragedy is so fresh, not much has been directed toward the future of the remaining structures on the Kate Chopin property. I hope that you will be able to share my photos with those who value Kate Chopin the person and the author. Thanks for caring about the Kate Chopin House and                                                                                                                                  Bayou Folk Museum”.

Jean Carter is the Heritage Ranger for the Cane River National Heritage Area and has a heart for preserving endangered places and fragile artifacts.

Kate Chopin House before fire

Photos by Jean Carter, courtesy Cane River National Heritage Area

The following message from Susie Chopin and Annette Chopin Lare:

(Greatgrandaughters of Kate Chopin)

“While our family has never placed great emphasis on material things, there was a collective gasp and profound sadness when it was learned that Kate’s home in Cloutierville, Louisiana, had burned. The Kate Chopin House in Cloutierville was our grandfather’s boyhood home. For those of us who were fortunate enough to visit The Bayou Folk Museum, walking through the rooms where Kate and Oscar lived with their children and seeing the bayou country that inspired so much of Kate’s best work, was an inspiring and unforgettable experience”.

As you travel around Natchitoches Parish, or the city where you live, do you see historical sites and structures that are endangered? Artifacts that are not being preserved properly?

  • Civil War battlefields that are scheduled to become another strip mall or shopping center
  • Historic structures that are falling into ruin
  • Priceless articles of clothing, paintings, jewelry, documents, books, sculptures, and more
Find out how you can help by being a good steward of our cultural heritage and help preserve endangered places and fragile artifacts.
For information about membership, events and tours please contact us:
email: aphn41@yahoo.com

Phone: 318-379-0055We will be happy to answer questions and address any concerns you may have.

Also you may contact the Kate Chopin International Society for information   KateChopin.org

Francois Mignon Describes Yucca, The Original Dwelling on Melrose Plantation Wednesday, Jun 22 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Tom Whitehead made available to us a description of Melrose Plantation in Francois Mignon’s own words. Tom is our “ferret”, for his ability to search persistently and discover amazing facts, and make them available to all of us. He is a true steward of history and cultural preservation. Here is the first of several posts describing Yucca in Francois Mignon”s own words:

“The original dwelling on Melrose -then styled Yucca, representing an original Cane River structure of the early period was built, probably, around 1790. The walls were, and still are, of earth, mixed with deer hair originally, and in later years, (deer running short) moss was substituted.

The house comprises four rooms. The first is the bath, the second, hidden by banana stalks, is the bed rooom and work room. The third door opens into the living room. The forth gives on another bedroom.

The chimneys are large, with openings on both sides, so that they may serve all four rooms.

From about 1790 to 1833, this was the residence of the Metoyers. In the latter year, the big house, built to the same lines but a story higher, was buiolt for the son of Augustin Metoyer,-Louis. From 1833, this original home was used as a slave hospital,down through 1864, and following the war housed servants of the plantation. In the late 1920’s it was put back in order, and subsequently and occupied by Lyle Saxon, etc.

The furnishings of the bedroom are the most interesting in the house. An eight-foot grandfather’s clock embraces a combination of European and American handiwork. The works and weights, the face and hands were imported from France. The case was made, probably by a slave carpenter on Cane River. The clock strikes the half hour once and the full hour twice,- the latter time-telling indicated by the hour being struck one minute, as a repeat, following the first recording of the hour.

An old Spanish wrought-iron safe is another interesting item. The great nail heads or bolt heads,-there are dozens of them covering the thing, are so contrived that six of them, if properly fiddled with, will open the safe automatically. It makes a sturdy stand for the Reading Machine. A duplicate of this safe is in Jefferson College at Washington Mississippi., having also come down from the Spanish when Natchez was the seat of the provincial government of Spain in Mississippi.

Yucca. Melrose


Melrose began life as The Louis Metoyer Plantation in 1796 and was named Melrose in 1884 when Joseph Henry bought the plantation. It is one of the first and is one of the best surviving examples of a Creole plantation built by former enslaved persons known as “free people of color.” There are out- buildings from the late 1700’s, one of which houses the 1955 murals painted by the internationally known African-American Folk Artist, Clementine Hunter, who lived and worked at Melrose. For more information regarding year-round tours please call: 318-379-0055.
(Bus tours by reservation only)

Many Guests Saw Authentic Clementine Art At Melrose Plantation During the Arts and Crafts Festival of 2011 Monday, Jun 13 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose Plantation.

The weather was warm (alright, it was hot) but it did not seem to spoil the fun and festive spirit of the large number of guests who came to Melrose. They :

  • stayed cool with home made ice cream and special herbal iced tea
  • ate home-made cakes and cookies
  • chose from a varied menu of lunch options
  • shopped for a wide array of arts and crafts, cooking spices, books, paintings, articles for patio and lawn, hand made jewelry and more. There were 30 new vendors at Melrose this year.
  • did not worry about the media flurry concerning forged Clementine Hunter art for they knew they were looking at the artist’s authentic paintings and her spectacular mural in the African House on Melrose Plantation where she lived and painted. 

    Clementine Hunter, "Washday"

    African House Murals at Melrose Plantation

    Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival, 2011

     A number of guests, as well as vendors, enjoyed a guided tour of the Big House during the Festival. If you missed it this year, put it on your calendar for next year as a “do not miss” activity.

    In the meantime, come with your family and friends for a tour of Melrose.

    Plan a Tour of the Melrose Historic Home and Out-Buildings of the Metoyer “Gens de Colour Libre”.
     Miss Cammie Henry’s collection of hand woven pieces.
     the Clementine Hunter Murals in the African House.
     the lovely Fall and Christmas decorations. (later in the year)
     in the Book Store Bindery for books and gift items.



    For information about membership, events and tours please contact us:
    email: aphn41@yahoo.com

    Phone: 318-379-0055

    We will be happy to answer questions and address any concerns you may have.


    )1( preserving the historic treasures of natchitoches’ past

    )2( presenting the stories of historic people and places to our generation

    )3( practicing responsible stewardship of that which we manage but do not own


A Rendezvous At Melrose for Arts and Crafts Thursday, Jun 9 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches

European fur trappers roamed the Mississippi and the Red Rivers some 300 years ago. There were times when Native American peoples and fur trappers of European descent (up to 1840) would rendezvous (a place designated for a meeting). This would be the place to get the best price for your fur or skins (bucks) and trade for ammunition, traps, cookware, sugar or coffee.

This is your special invitation to rendezvous at the Melrose Plantation Arts and Crafts Festival ( 15 miles south of Natchitoches).

Attend the Melrose Arts & Crafts Festival
                  June 11-12

This annual arts and crafts festival showcases the work of more than 100 artists and craftsmenTours of the Main House and African House will also be available. Your admission fee will help preserve this historic French Creole Plantation for future generations. Come with family and friends.

                   Attend the Melrose Arts & Crafts Festival
                                                     June 11-12

Dock your canoe on the Cane River

Tether you horses and mules under the shade trees

Sip a cold soda, trade stories and swap “bucks” for arts and crafts.

It will be fun for the entire family and your admission fees will help to maintain Melrose Plantation for the enjoyment of future generations.

This rendezvous is really pour vous, mon cher.

Melrose Plantation, the Big House Managed by APHN

The African House at Melrose Plantation

African House Mural by Clementine Hunter