Tour Melrose Plantation, Meet Chance Harvey, Get Your Signed Copy of “The Life and Selected Letters of Lyle Saxon” Wednesday, Aug 31 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Make your Fall Tour of Homes Complete. Come to Melrose Plantation and meet Chance Harvey, author of The Life and Selected Letters of Lyle Saxon. Get your copy signed by the author.

Book Signing at Melrose Plantation   

On Sunday, October 9, from 9:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.mChance Harvey, who wrote the Foreword to the latest edition of Lyle Saxon’s Children of Strangers (1937) published this fall by Pelican, will be on hand to sign her work at the Bookstore of Melrose Plantation. Saxon’s novel, written when the author lived in Yucca House as a guest of Cammie Garrett Henry, vividly depicts the Louisiana Cane River plantation community in the early 1900s. Chance Harvey is the author of The Life and Selected Letters of Lyle Saxon (Pelican, 2003) and teaches in the English Department at Southeastern Louisiana University.

When you tour Melrose, remember to visit our Book Store and Gift Shop.

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

For more information regarding year-round tours please call: 318-379-0055.
(Bus tours by reservation only)

MELROSE PLANTATION BIG HOUSE 1833
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What Would Clementine Hunter Feel, Think Or Say? Wednesday, Aug 24 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

A confession. I was within 5o miles of the African-American artist Clementine Hunter when I was at Louisiana College and she was living at Melrose. I had never heard of her and did not until coming back to the United States after many years in Costa Rica and Argentina. Another part of my confession. I took “Music and Art Appreciation” in college but I probably would not have “appreciated” the work of simple genius that characterized Clementine’s art work. I would not have been intelligent enough to drive one hour to meet this remarkable person and maybe even purchase one of her works. What an unaware and ill-informed dummy I was!

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose

Older now, and hopefully wiser, seven framed prints of Clementine’s work are in my office. More importantly, I recognize that a rather unique and remarkable person lived and “marked” her paintings at Melrose Plantation. I only “know” Clementine Hunter through her work, which was truly “Art From the Heart” (excellent book on Hunter’s work by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans) and from friends like the late Bobby DeBlieux and Tom Whitehead. Both men were friends with the artist. I remember Bobby’s stories about her and Tom continues to enlighten and inform the preservation community about her. Tom Whitehead is a “Natchitoches Treasure” of information.

Two developments that would likely trigger a reaction to the spunky little lady of Cane River are the following:

1. Forgeries of her work have appeared in recent years and the news on the internet has been jammed with reports of discovery and prosecution of the culprits. They have received ampy news coverage. My question is: what would Clementine think, feel or say about people forging her work and selling it? Would she be surprised, flattered, angry or just puzzled? Anyone who knew her, would you venture a guess by commenting below. If “immitation is the highest form of flattery”, forgery may be one of the crulest distortions of an artist’s work. What do you think?

2.Recently, Richard Rabinowitz, President of the American History Workshop in Brooklyn, New York, visited Melrose Plantation. He is on assignment for the Smithsonian Institute on the subject of African-American history and wanted to see the Clementine Hunter murals at Melrose Plantation. It was my priviledge to join the group as a board member of APHN and a member of the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commisssion. The group included Whitehead , Northwester State University, who conducted the tour of the murals for Mr. Rabinowitz. Also present were Superintendent Laura Gates of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Dusty Fuqua, Park Ranger  and Scott Norton, curator of Melrose Plantation. Clementine is reported to have said, in response to an invitation to visit Washington and meet the President of the United States, that he would have to come to Melrose if he wanted to see her. It is unlikely that the artist would be overly excited about the Smithsonian exhibit. Who knows? The rest of us are excited for her. We are also pleased that the remarkable contributions of African-Americans in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana and the Cane River area are increasingly being recognized and reported.

 

Visit Melrose Plantation and See the Clementine Hunter Murals {Go here for details}

Tom Whitehead, Richard Rabinowitz at Melrose

From North-South-East-West, Visitors Discover History in Visiting MELROSE in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana Saturday, Aug 20 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Melrose Plantation, the Big House Managed by APHN

The Louis Metoyer Plantation, now known as Melrose Plantation, is a 215 year-old cotton and pecan plantation. Located on the banks of the scenic Cane River Lake in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, is is a delight for visitors from the North, South, East, amd west as well as many other countries outside the United States.

The African House at Melrose Plantation

 

The plantation has nine standing historic buildings, three of which are of significant. The oldest of these is Yucca House, built after 1810. This French Creole cottage had many uses including serving as a nursery and hospital for enslaved workers. The second building, the Mushroom House, now commonly called the African House, was constructed about 1820. Many have speculated that it was built to resemble traditional African homes, however architectural scholars point out that its design is derived from French barns of that period. Finally there is the big house, which was completed in 1833. This bousillage (a mixture of mud, Spanish moss and deer hair) building has been remodelled numerous times and has several additions, including two distinctive hexagonal towers, known as garçoniéres, flanking the front gallery.

Louis Metoyer was given the land in a grant by the Spanish government in 1796. Louis was the second son of Claude Thomas Pierre Métoyer, a French military officer who was assigned duty at Fort Ste Jean Baptiste in Natchitoches, and Marie Thérèse Coincoin, an African slave owned by Metoyer and later freed by him. He and his descendents built and managed a plantation here until 1847, when it was sold to the Hertzogs, the family that owned neighbouring Magnolia Plantation. The Hertzog brothers named the place The Plantation of the Brothers Henry and Hypolite Hertzog.

 Joseph Henry later acquired the land in 1898 and renamed the place Melrose Plantation. He lived primarily at another plantation further south and resided at Melroseduring the harvest. He died soon after purchasing the property and the plantation was passed on to his son, John Hampton Henry, and his daughter-in-law, Cammie Garrett Henry. Miss Cammie, as she was known, was a college-educated woman who was fond of culture and society. She started an art colony at the plantation that became one of the most popular in the South, entertaining such famous names as Lyle Saxon and William Spratling.  

 During the Cammie Henry era, internationally known artist Clementine Hunter got her start at Melrose, where she worked as a cook and painted in her spare time. She  became the first African American to have a solo exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Her work depicts daily life in the rural South prior to the mechanization of agriculture. Melrose Plantation is one of about 2,430 places in America to have the designation “National Historic Landmark”.

 However, the life and work of Clementine Hunter is significant enough that Melrose has earned the National Trust for Historic Preservation designation as an Historic Artist’s Home and Studio. Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios is a consortium of 30 of America’s most significant artists’ spaces that are open to the public and serve over 600,000 visitors each year.

 In 1971, the plantation was given to the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN). The APHN, is a not-for-profit organization which maintains the property and buildings and opens the house for public tours.

 NOTE: The name Yucca Plantation was thought to have been the original name given to the place by the Metoyers. However, recent scholarship shows that the name originated with the 1937 publication of Lyle Saxon’s Children of Strangers, a novel based on observations made while living at Melrose Plantation. As a work of fiction, it used fictional place names and surnames in place of the true names. “Melrose” was renamed “Yucca” and the “Henry” family was renamed the “Randolph” family.

SOURCE: APHN Draft Copy for Melrose History. This is a living document that will be revised and expanded as new information is discovered. APHN welcomes your comments or historical information on the subject.

Yucca. Melrose

 

For more information regarding year-round tours please call: 318-379-0055.
(Bus tours by reservation only) or go to the APHN website

www.aphnatchitoches.net

Natchitoches Fall Tour of Homes, October 7, 8, 9, 2011 Friday, Aug 12 2011 

                                          Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchotiches (APHN)

       
NATCHITOCHES                                  
 
FALL TOUR OF HOMES
       an Annual Event
FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY
OCTOBER 7, 8 & 9
 
GO TO APHN’S WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO ORDER YOUR TICKETS ONLINE:

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

 
MELROSE PLANTATION BIG HOUSE 1833
 

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)

 

Lemee House 1837
 
 

The Lemee House was constructed in 1837. In 1940 a group of concerned women convinced the City of Natchitoches to buy the house with the understanding that the women would restore and maintain the property and use it as a Club House. And so it remains today the meeting place of the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches as well as other local organizations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO ORDER YOUR FALL TOUR OF HOMES TICKETS ONLINE, VISIT THE APHN WEBSITE:

www.aphnatchitoches.net