APHN Offers Two Clementine Hunter Books for One Low Price Monday, Jan 21 2013 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches

Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches offers two great Clementine Hunter books for one low price. Visit Melrose Plantation for a wonderful tour of where Clementine lived and worked, see her magnificent mural and get your books at the Bindery (Gift Shop). If you cannot make it to Melrose, go to the APHN website and purchas the books. {click here}

Special Offer #1: a two book package for one Low Sale Price.

Clementine Hunter:Her Life and Art
By Art Shiver and Tom Whitehead
Louisiana State University Press, 2012
She painted and painted and painted: for fifty years she painted. She produced “between five and ten thousand” works of art. On snuff bottles, window shades, plywood, canvas and a multitude of objects found on the plantation. Hunter tells her own story and the story of her people in her paintings. The descendent of an enslaved family, she came from field hand in the cotton rows to cook for the plantation Big House to internationally known Folk Artist.
Shiver and Whitehead’s book is. itself, a well researched and lively story of not only the Artist, but of those who encouraged her, such as Lyle Saxon and Francois Mignon. It includes facinating data of forgeries and FBI involvment. Both authors knew Clementine.Whitehead visited her regularly for many years. Book includes paintings and photographs. Read and become Clementine’s friend

Clementine Hunter: The African House Murals
by Art Shiver and Tom Whitehead
Copyright 2005 The Association of the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches 
Published by NSU Press Publications
Hardcover Edition

The story in words and pictures about “the most colorful room in the south”.  One of the modern treasures of the American art scene was painted in the middle of the last century on nine plywood panels and installed on the dusty second floor of a unique structure at rural Melrose Plantation in northwest Louisiana.. Through journals and correspondence, we (the authors) are able today to put together the events that tell the story of the creation of Clementine Hunter’s African House Murals. (excerpt from inside cover)




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:
                                       email: info@aphnatchitoches.net
Phone: 318-379-0055



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.


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

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

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)

       an Annual Event
OCTOBER 7, 8 & 9

 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.


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.