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

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 

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


Francois Mignon: Yucca In His Own Words (Part Two) Monday, Jul 4 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Francois Mignon

On June 22, 2011, I posted :Francois Mignon Describes Yucca, The Original Dwelling on Melrose Plantation.” With this post, you can read the continuation of his description:

"The bed in this room is a four poster, having once belonged to the family 
of Celine Rocque. Two features of it are its wool "tack" - a six inch thick 
mattress of wool, laid over the spring mattress. Another feature I like is the 
50 odd yards of curtaining, designed to keep out drafts.
The portraits in this room aren't, particularly interesting. They consist 
of Madame Laveau, negress, in 188o costume, her husband, painted a little 
more indifferently. Madame Laveau was the Voodoo Queen of New orleans in the last half of 
the nineteenth century.
Over the fireplace is a badlly retouched portrait of Grandpere Augustin's wife, 
familiarly ca1led "Coin-Coin" by her contemporaries. It dates from about 1836.
The hearth of the fireplace, on which the fire blazes, is an iron sheet, about three-quarters of an 
inch thick. It extends about a foot out into the room, flush with the floor. Not originally incorporated
in the fireplace, it was laid in its present position when the house was done over in the 20th century. 
It is a piece of iron plate, removed from the side of an iron clad boat, which the Yankees operated on the 
Red River, some five miles away, during the Civil War. Somehow the iron clad got stuck in the mud about 
the time the War ended, and it was abandoned,-to rot down. It was from this vessel that this iron plate was 
removed and put to its present usefulness. (Note General Bank's Red River Campaign of 1865).
The fender for this fireplace was found beneath the fireplace in the drawing room
of the Markoe housew, when that building was taken down a few years ago, say in the 1930's. How it
even got down under the fireplace,-into the ground-no one could ever explain. Markoe was the 
planter-partner of Robert McAlphin,the Simon Legree of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The McAlphin plantation-Hidden
Hill, I think it was called, was not far from the Markoe plantation,-on the west bank of the Cane River, 
south of Cloutierville some 8 or 10 miles.

Yucca. Melrose

The Metoyers of Yucca (Melrose) Plantation In Natchitoches, Louisiana Tuesday, Nov 9 2010 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)


Along one area of Cane River, a long ridge bordered by several streams and streamlets, there developed a particular concentration –Isle Brevelle. It evolved into a small rural France. The Creole people of Isle Brevelle grew crops and served one another as artisans, shoemakers, woodworkers, incomparable cooks and farmers. A few families rose among their fellows- the Metoyers, the Roques and the Silves. Harnet T. Lane in Plantation Parade, states:

“No name became more resplendent among its fellows than that of the Metoyers”.

The head man of Isle Brevelle was generally recognized as Augustin Metoyer–Grand-père.  Augustin was affectionately known as the “Big Father” of his community.


Along a turn in the river where the soil lay rich and thick, Grand-père chose a site for his house. It was a simple heavily timbered structure of brick and mud between posts with an overhanging roof.  In the 1830s, Augustin shifted the command of his properties to his son Louis Metoyer. A finer house was contructed that architects of a later generation would pronounce a minor masterpiece, admirable in style and material.

Kane describes this house in these terms:

¨It was a low structure, broad but close to the earth, the openings entirely free of ornament, a plain gallery railing at the upper level, the timbers uncovered at the ceilings-the whole built to last.¨

From the gallery rail the family could “catch the sheen of the waters through clumps of spiked Spanish daggers (an evergreen shrub). That vista gave the name to the plantation–Yucca. Yucca (now know as Melrose) was completed in 1833.” The family lived here in the peaceful seculsion of this harmonious setting. Augustine often received callers, lent his house to the missionaries for their services until he eventually decided to provide the church with a building on Isle Brevelle. It was in July of 1829 that Father Jean Baptiste Blanc dedicated this structure to the glory of his God.

Of all his numerous accomplishments, Grandpere appeared prouder of this act than of anything he had done. Today, a full length portrait of Augustin Metoyer hangs in the St. Augustin Catholic Church. This thriving and vibrant Catholic Church, while not the original structure, serves the Creole Community and others of Isle Brevelle today and is a lasting testimony to a most remarkable man.¨



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

St. Augustin Catholic Church, Melrose


Melrose Plantation, 1833

Big House, Melrose Plantation

Cane River, Isle Brevelle