Melrose Tour Will Put A Smile On Your Face Tuesday, Jun 25 2013 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches

It is delightful to be with happy people in a happy place.

Get together with:

  • your Sunday School Class or church group
  • your girl friend’s group
  • your family
  • your school group
  • your friends

Schedule a tour of Melrose Plantation, Natchitoches, Louisiana

Even if there is one “ole grouch” in your group, chances are he or she will have a change of attitude before your educational and enchanting tour of the French Creole Plantation concludes.

Enjoy refreshments in the Plantation Gift Shop while you browse for gifts or mementos of your visit.

Marvel at the impressive collection of works by the Louisiana artist Clementine Hunter, including the impressive mural depicting plantation li                       

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose

A Servant Girl Who Became a Famous Artist Wednesday, Apr 4 2012 

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

Clementine Hunter  (pronounced Clementeen)

Possibly Louisiana’s most famous artist, Clementine Hunter, was born in 1886 at Hidden Hill Plantation. At the age of fifteen, Clementine and her father moved to the financially successful Melrose Plantation. Melrose had been acquired in 1898 by John and Carmelite (“Miss Cammie”) Henry. Miss Cammie turned Melrose into an artist colony that was a haven where artists and writers came to live and work. Clementine worked in the cotton fields and the pecan orchards.  When she was middle-aged, Miss Cammie brought Clementine into the Big House to cook and clean. Here she met a New Orleans artist, Alberta Kinsey, who inspired Clementine to paint. With no formal training, she produced colorful and from memory paintings. She depicted every day life on Melrose Plantation. In 1939, Francois Mignon arrived at Melrose.  Mignon  began a life-long encouragement and promotion of Clementine Hunter. Today the story of the servant girl who became a famous artist is known around the world.

Clementines’ paintings are:

  • recognized as a narrative of plantation life during the time before grueling labor in the fields was replaced by mechanization. 
  • considered the works of one the most important self-taught American artists of the 20th century.
  • shown at the Smithsonian Institution, The Museum of American Folk Art and countless other museums and private collections around the world.

Clementine Hunter died on January 1, 1988 at the age of 101


  • She was the first African-American artist to have a solo exhibition at the Delgado Museum (now the New Orleans Museum of Art)  achieved a significant amount of success during her lifetime, including 
  • an invitation to the White House from U.S. President Jimmy Carter (which she declined).
  • Radcliffe College included Hunter in its “Black Women Oral History Project, published in 1980.
  • Northwestern State University of Louisiana granted her an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 1986.
One of the more well-known displays of Hunter’s artwork is located in a storage building called “African House” on the grounds of Melrose Plantation. (African House is often referred to as slave quarters, however the building was built for, and always used for storage.) The walls are covered in a mural Hunter painted.
Visit Melrose Plantation and see examples of Clementine’s art, including the murals in the African House.

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose

Melrose Plantation Big House

Please take note of change in Melrose Festival dates for 2012.

Sat. April 21 and Sun. April 22, 2012.

Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival Vendor Information. 

Begun in 1941 and chartered as a non-profit organization in 1944, the APHN is a volunteer organization. At present, APHN operates two historic properties: Melrose Plantation and the Lemee House. The organization provides educational opportunities to children and adults through the Children’s Walking Tour of Natchitoches, the Fall Tour of Historic Homes and daily 12pm-4pm (closed on Mondays)  guided tours of Melrose Plantation, which includes the Big House, Yucca House and the African House. 

     Customer Service Information:
Phone: 318-379-0055

Explore, Experience, and Enjoy Natchitoches Parish Sunday, Apr 1 2012 

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

NATCHITOCHES, LA – The 38th Annual Melrose Plantation Arts & Crafts Festival will be presented Saturday and Sunday, April 21 & 22, 2012.

Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival

Artists and craftsmen from Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and as far as New Mexico and Illinois will be displaying handcrafted work on the beautiful grounds of historic Melrose plantation, located 18 miles south of Natchitoches. The festival is one of the largest arts & crafts shows held in Louisiana. Painting, drawing, whimsical portraiture, photography, unique pottery, clothing, furniture, candles and fragrances, whistles, clocks and pens, preserves and relishes, as well as objects made for home and garden of metal, wood, cloth, wire and  glass, meat pies and other regional foods will be available.

Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children under 12 years of age. In addition to the festival, guided tours of the Main House and African House will be available for $5.00.

Melrose plantation is a unique complex designated as a National Historic Landmark. The original colonial residence, Yucca House, was built in 1796. The Big House was for many years the residence of Cammie Henry who offered accommodations and a working environment for artists and writers.

Vendor applications are still being accepted. Vendor inquiries call Susan Davidson at (318) 379-0800 or email  Applications are also available online at The event is sponsored by The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches.


Gift Shop/ Bindery



Bindery/ Giftshop at Melrose Plantation

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

Our preservation of Melrose Plantation and its stories is to make it available to you as a wonder-filled present. Make your plans today for you and your group to visit Melrose Plantation. There is no history more intriguing and no time like the present  for a delightful excursion

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.  Visit the Clementine Hunter Murals in the African  House. Enjoy the lovely Gardens Take photos at the almost 400 year old Live Oak Tree. Shop in the Book Store Bindery for books and gift items.

For more information or to schedule a Group Tour please call: 318-379-0055

Your Giving, Volunteering and Support Make a Difference Sunday, Jan 22 2012 

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

Recently. officers of APHN and board members met with the architect and contractor to do a walk-through of the Yucca House at Melrose Plantation. A major project is nearing its completed state. It included restoration of the structure, which was sinking, and to repair and paint surfaces that needed attention. What would happen to these enchanting and historic structures without your help? They would sink into the ground and disappear. Thanks to you and your preservation efforts, this will not happen.

Somehow I think Miss Cammie, Lyle Saxon, Francois Mignon, Clementine Hunter,  Marie Terese “Coin-Coin” and the Metoyer family would thank you as well.


Pictured below is Arleen Mayeaux, First Vice President of APHN.


Yucca House, Melrose Plantation

Below center, Adam Foreman, (arms crossed) Executive Director of APHN.


Do You Need to Destroy the Old to Build the New? Tuesday, Jan 17 2012 

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

Building the New Does Not Have to Destroy the Old. Mike Vance makes this point succinctly in his editorial of Sunday, January 15, 2012 in the Houston Chronicle. Vance reports that it is frequently said in his city “Houston has no history. We tear it all down.”

Fortunately, this is not the case. He cites the following examples:

  • a 1930 vintage White Castle, the city’s oldest known fast-food restaurant, was given a landmark designation.
  • 40 years ago an entire industrial planned community, containing hundreds of structures, was turned into a historic district.
  • in 2011, that district, The Pullman, was named one of the 10 Great Neighborhoods by the American Planning Association.
Good for you Houston. Keep up the good work of preservation.
In Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, there are also enough people who have realized through the years that building the new did not mean destroying the old. They saw the value of both. May their tribe increase!
The Historic District in the City of Natchitoches, oldest permanent settlement in the Louisisna Purchase Territory (even older than New Orleans), and the Historic District in the Parish are evidence that preservation is regarded as vital.
What does having a Preservationist mind-set involve?
  • be willing to pay the price for preserving something precious for all to enjoy now and protecting the patrimony of future generations
  • support ordinances and legislation that preserve sites, including the endangered Cane River Lake. Exposed duct work and replica signage are a far cry from centuries-old brick work and patenated cypress.
  • know that property values are enhanced with preservation projects. 

In summary, when 80 year old houses are converted into law offices that preserve the integrity of the structure, you find what I call a “good lawyer”. Imagine! When an old gas station is converted into a restaurant that is in the character of a historic district, it is a “good restaurant”.

For the residents of Houston and Natchitoches I will say: Lets build on our successes, learn from our failures, build the new and beautiful, preserve the old and remember the stories that go with places that have been here a while.

The African House, Melrose Plantation

New Shops and Condos on Front Street, Natchitoches in site of old Nakatosh Hotel

The City of Natchitoches will celebrate the Tri-Centennial Year of its founding in 2014. Watch for special events on this blog site.

Explore the Enchanting Mushroom House at Melrose Plantation Monday, Dec 26 2011 

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

Francois Mignon

After visiting Melrose, Francois Mignon moved permanently there in the Fall of 1939.  From his papers we read about a Sunday morning (October 29) at Melrose.

“After coffee and mc (sic, much?) talk, Robina (Robina Denholm) and I decided to explore the gardens, visiting the famous old African musroom (sic, mushroom) house,–once used to encarcerate obstreperous slaves  in the old days when when the mulato (sic) Metoyer family owned Melrose. I was enchanted with Robina’s remark that she thought it good that the folks  there had the feeling of security sufficiently developed to dare bring this African item (the African House) from their distant past and blandly bring such architecture into being again”.


African House, MelroseMelrose Plantation, the Big House Managed by APHN

Several obervations need to be made about Mignon’s comments.
First: Mignon seems to be the one who dubbed the African House with the name “The Mushroom House”. It does have an obvious resemblance to a mushroom. 
Secondly: Mignon gave no documentation in regard to the African House ever having been used as a jail for slaves. I have found no other source for this claim.
Thirdly: His use of the word “mulato” (sic) needs some comment. The Metoyer family would never use the word to describe themselves nor would I. The Metoyers are a proud Creole family with a marvelous heritage in the Cane River area of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. I regard this term as pejorative (derives from the Spanish word for “mule”) and refuse to use it. It appears here only as an accurate expression of usuage in the period in which Mignon lived and wrote.
Robina’s mark is true that the African House is an enchanting example from the “distant past”. The fascination is only enhanced by the fact that you can view the spectacular Clementine Hunter murals on the upper floor of the African House. Explore the enchanting mushroom house at Melrose Plantation.

African House Murals by Clementine Hunter


Melrose Plantation, the Big House Managed by APHN

Melrose Plantation welcomes you for a Tour you will always remember.

Group Tours by appointment only.
For more information or to schedule a Group Tour please call: 318-379-0055  

A National Historic Landmark, c.1796, Melrose is rich in Louisiana history. The complex contains nine           buildings including African House, Yucca House, Writer’s Cabin, Bindery and the Big House. Many authors,    historians and artists resided and worked here.

A collection of work by primitive artist Clementine Hunter is is available for viewing.

Located at 3533 State Hwy. 119 Melrose, Louisiana 

Clementine Hunter of Melrose Plantation and Her Wig Tuesday, Dec 6 2011 

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

Lyle Saxon, a frequent visitor to Melrose Plantation from 1923 until his death, tells of an interesting incident concerning Clementine Hunter. Chance  Harvey,  in her  excellent read-every  word  (and  enjoy)  book,  The Life  and  Selected  Letters  of  Lyle  Saxon  records  his account of Clementine and her wig.

According to Saxon, Clementine was jealous of the wig he had bought Victoria, another cook at Melrose Plantation. Clementine had owned a wig but it came to an unfortunate end when her husband, Manuel, snatched it from her head and flung it into the fire one night after she had sent him into a rage.

Saxon wrote of the incident and the fact it “may not seem like an international episode to you, but on the plantation it almost caused a revolution”.

Mr. Henry (Cammie’s husband), bought Clemance (Clementine) another wig, it too eventually disappeared.

When Victoria, wearing her wig, fell out of a swing and died of a concussion, she was laid to rest at a funeral that Cammie Henry and Lyle Saxon attended. Saxon concludes his chapter with a remark made by Cammie Henry:

“I wish I could open that coffin. I would like to look at Victoria once more. I am sure Clemance has stolen her wig”.

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose

Visit historic Melrose Plantation and tour the site where Clementine lived and painted. See the impressive mural she painted in the African House.

Go here for more information [           ]

African House, Melrose


Melrose Plantation, the Big House Managed by APHN

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”.
 Miss Cammie Henry’s collection of hand woven pieces.
 the Clementine Hunter Murals in the African House.
 the lovely Fall and Christmas decorations.
 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)


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

Next Page »