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


Recognitions:

  • 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

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OUR PAST IS A WONDER-FILLED PRESENT FOR YOU Thursday, Feb 16 2012 

image_bindery_giftshop_melrose_rs_41

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”.
                     See
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 Magic of Natchitoches, Louisiana and Its Alluring History Thursday, Dec 29 2011 

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

Bust of Louis Juchereau de St. Denis

“The Renomee, Frigate of King Louis XIV’s navy, floated ghostlike through veils of fog toward the mysterious, broken shore line.  The captain, Pierre La Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, called a junior officer to his side at starboard. The younger officer was the captain’s cousin and uncle-in-law–a man who, like himself, bore a distinguished Canadian name–Louis Juchereau de St. Denis. The captain pointed a bold hand landward: ‘Louisiana!’, he announced with a ring in his voice. This was a magical word to Frenchmen, a will-o,-the wisp name that had become alluring but not quite real.”
 
{Ross Phares: “Cavalier in the Wilderness”,Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, 1976}
 
Louisiana retains its magical and alluring quality that attracted these adventurous French Canadians. We who live here may venture out to others places but there is something that beckons us to come home to Louisiana. St Denis found Louisiana to be a playground for brave and romantic hearts. He planted his life and destiny firmly in the rich soil of Louisiana. Except for brief periods, he was never to leave again. (“Cavalier in the Wilderness).
 
St. Denis found one place in Louisiana that has proven to be uniquely magical and attractive. It is the French Colonial City of Natchitoches. The founder of Natchitoches, St Denis first met the Natchitoches Indians in 1701. Flooding of the Red River in 1705 destroyed their crops. St Denis invited the tribe to move to an area he controlled near Lake Pontchartrain. The Natchitoches Indians returned his kindness by giving him tattoos from the tribe that permitted him to cultivate strong trade ties and also to summon numerous Indian warriors in times of great need.
 
The year 2012 marks the Bi-Centennial of the State of Louisiana. In future posts I will share some of the dates and events to be celebrated throughout the entire year.
 
Speaking of Natchitoches, Kathleen M. Byrd entitled her excellent book “Colonial Natchitoches: Outpost of Empires” (Xlibris Corporation, 2008). Indeed it was!
 
In 2014, this old French Indian trading post will celebrate its Tri-Centennial year. It promises to be a great opportunity to hear the story, live the magic of its diversity and celebrate the promise of an even greater future for this enchanted “City of Lights”. As the saying goes; “the rest is history”.
 

Bust of St. Denis, Red River in background

 
 
 
 

Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme Day in Natchitoches, Louisiana Tuesday, Oct 26 2010 

 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN) 

The following address was delivered by Kathy Prudhomme Guin on October 23, 2010 in the American Cemetery for Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prudhomme Day.

“My name is Kathy Prudhomme Guin. Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prudhomme was my great, great, great, great grandfather.

Emmanuel had a long and interesting life. He was born January 2, 1762 in Natchitoches, LA to Dr. Jean Baptiste and Marie Josephine Prudhomme. He was one of 8 children and father to 8 children. Also, in the year of his birth, 1762, Louisiana changed from (a) French to a Spanish Colony.

For a historical perspective of his life, Emmanuel was:

  •  7 when Capt. James Cook discovered Australia and named it for the British Crown
  •  8 when Marie Antoinette married Louis 16th
  • 31 when she was beheaded during the French revolution in Paris
  • 13 when Paul Revere made his famous ride to Lexington
  •  42 when Lewis and Clark made the Expedition to the Pacific Coast.

He married Catherine Lambre Prudhomme and initially lived in a small home on the banks of the Red River, later known as Cane River Lake.

Emmanuel served as a Rifleman in the Natchitoches, LA Militia, which served under Spanish Governor of LA, Colonel Bernardo de Galvez during his campaign against the British. (1780 – 1782)

Emmanuel was a planter. His first crops were tobacco and indigo and sold the indigo to France to use as dye for French soldiers uniforms. Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793, increased the cultivation of cotton. In 1797, he planted cotton, reputed to be the first crop of cotton grown on a large scale in the LA Purchase. His cotton venture was a great success and other area planters begin to grow cotton.

In the early 1800’s many inhabitants had developed close relationships with the native Indians. Emmanuel had an undiagnosed ailment that caused him considerable pain. It was perhaps arthritis. The Natchitoches Indians, who were friendly with Emmanuel told him of a place of “healing waters” and offered to take him there. In 1807, Emmanuel accepted their offer and with a servant and necessary provisions, headed for the springs now known as Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was one of the first white men ever to visit these ´healing waters´. He built a modest home there and visited frequently for a few years.

In February of 1811, an Act of Congress enabled the Territory of Orleans to form a constitution and state government. Emmanuel Prudhomme and Pierre Bossier represented Natchitoches at the Constitutional Convention in New Orleans. After Congress approved the Constitution, the State of Louisiana was admitted to the Union.

Upon Emmanuel’s return to his plantation, he found his home in need of repair. Rather than repair his home he chose to build a larger home set back from the banks of the Red River. This new home was referred to as the Big House at Bermuda Plantation, also known as the Prudhomme Plantation and later known as Oakland Plantation.

After the house was finished in 1821, Emmanuel and Catherine traveled to France to visit family, buy furniture and had their portraits painted in Paris. These paintings hang in the living room at Oakland today.

Upon his death in May of 1845, at the age of 83, he passed the Big House and substantial acreage to his son, Pierre Phanor Prudhomme, while his other children inherited other property. At that point in time the French tradition of “primogeniture” was followed and Oakland was passed on to the oldest living son of each generation.

His legacy continues today at Oakland which is now part of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park”.A marvelous heritage and a wonderful family who are our neighbors and friends today in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana¨.

Come to Natchitoches and see Oakland Plantation and perhaps you will be fortunate enough to meet some of the Prud’homme family.

Big House at Oakland Plantation

This Natchitoches Blog Is Only For Special People Friday, Oct 8 2010 

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

Before you get excited and clutter the “blogosphere” with invectives, let me speak clearly about the target audience for the Natchitoches 1714 Blog Site.

We are looking for a few good people (many actually) who:

  • have a deep love for Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
  • maintain an active interest in its history, tradition and culture
  • want to see the historic buildings, sites, ecosystem (a system formed by the interaction of organisms with their physical environment) and stories preserved.
  • attempt to promote cultural tourism, not as crass commercialism, but as a loving and gracious gesture to share the treasures that are here in Natchitoches with others as well as future generations.
  • recognize that we do not live in the past but the past lives in us. This leads us to a dynamic dialogue with others who love history, those who are descended from the early settlers of the original French Colonial Settlement in Natchitoches, other preservation groups and those of us who are late comers to this amazing community.
  • become members of APHN and strive to advance its mission.

Finally, let us know you are out there and that you have found us by doing one or all of the following:

  1. Select the LIKE button at the bottom of this post if you like what you see.
  2. Subscribe at the bottom of the page, put in your e-mail address and you will be informed when the Blog Site is updated.
  3. Make your comments about this post. Please leave a reply.

We want you to know you are special to us and invite you to come and join us in our mission at APHN.

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 guided tours of Melrose Plantation, which includes the Big House, Yucca House and the African House.

MELROSE PLANTATION BIG HOUSE 1833