Clementine Hunter: Her Life and Art Thursday, Sep 13 2012 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Clementine Hunter admirer? You will want this book.

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose




Francois Mignon: The Man Who Would Be French Monday, Aug 13 2012 

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

Francois Mignon: The Man Who Would Be French (Pictured with Clementine Hunter)

The Natchitoches preservation community frequently finds itself indebted to Kim (Publisher) and Terry (Editor) Isbel of The Old Natchitoches Parish Magazine and Mercantile Advertiser. Their edition No. 180 has an article by Oliver Ford, Fitchburg State College, entitled “Francois Mignon: the Man who would be French”.

Francois Mignon, gifted writer and long-time resident of Melrose Plantation, had numerous stories that circulated around him. Oliver Ford’s treatment of Mignon’s creating a new identity is gentle and non-judgemental. He quotes Mignon in a statement, that for me is both insightful and revealing:

“Ever so long ago I became convinced that God, for mere convenience, fitted us in patterns,-physically,  along lines of our progenitors, but gave us the recompense of finding souls of similar pattern to our own in any old place, and by no means tied to the blood kin from whence the body came but from whence the soul did not”.

Obviously this remarkable person born as Frank VerNooy Mineah on May 9, 1899, in Cortland, New York, to Walter Fish Mineah and Mary Ella Mineah (nee Howland) preferred to be “French”. His achievements were those of Francois Mignon rather than of Frank VerNooy Minrah, the name he was given at birth.

Oliver Ford writes: “How much of the Mignon persona he created,how much he simply did not deny when others embellished it, and how much simply attached to him by the usual rumors about public personalities probably never will be determined”.

This is a fascinating story, told well and with insight by Oliver Ford. You would do well to get a copy of the Old Natchitoches Parish Magazine (No. 180) and read it. Even better would be a subscription to the magazine.

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

A NEW cooler DATE! APRIL 21- 22, 2021 Thursday, Jan 19 2012 

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




at 318.581.8042

WHO Melrose Plantation

WHERE 3533 Hwy 119, Melrose LA

WHAT Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival

WHEN Saturday and Sunday April 21-22 8am-4pm



 DATE! APRIL 21- 22, 2021

The famous annual Melrose Plantation Arts and Crafts Festival will be hosted on the grounds on Saturday April 21 and Sunday April 22 from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Hundreds of vendors from around the state will exhibit and sell their original work.

Admission to the festival is $5.00 per person and your arm band gets you in all day! Raffle tickets will be sold to win items donated by the vendors. In addition to the arts & crafts, food and desert vendors will be on hand to satisfy your hungry side! Come enjoy the day with your family and friends while supporting local artist, craftsmen and the beautiful Melrose Plantation

Melrose Plantation is located just 14 miles south of Natchitoches at 3533 Hwy 119, Melrose LA.

Tours of this historic plantation home will be given throughout the weekend for an additional cost. Unwind with a weekend in the Melrose gardens at the Arts and Crafts Festival! All funds raised will be used for the continued preservation and maintenance of Melrose Plantation.


From Manhattan To Melrose Plantation Tuesday, Dec 20 2011 

Francois Mignon

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

Francois Mignon describes a journey he made by train from New York City to Melrose Plantation in Louisiana.  His paper is dated October 26, 1939.

“If you are going to Louisiana for the first time, a good way not to make it is by bee line from New York via Knoxville, Birmingham, etc..–especially in the month of November. It is like slipping surreptiously into Heaven by way of the back door, and so missing the full effect of the Pearly Portals and whatever Spanish moss may be entangled in Saint Peter’s beard–if any.”

Melrose Plantation, the Big House Managed by APHN

Arriving by train in Shreveport, Louisiana, Mignon was met by Robina, with whom he had exchanged many “pleasant letters” but whom he had never met. Turning off the main highway, Francois and Robina headed up the three mile lane that led to Melrose Plantation. Reaching the big house, they stopped by the side (west) gate. Francois writes:

“From out of nowhere good old Frank, the family houseman in overhalls (sic) came to greet us. We went into the big house and found that Aunt Cammie (Henry) was upstairs with her little grandson. When she heard us, however, she came flying down, and it filled me with extasy to find her just as I left her the year before, looking so good and so wholesome in her neat white waiste, black skirt and her luxurant white hair.”

Then with obvious tender affection, Francois states:

Cammie Henry as a young woman

“Somehow she made it seem as though I were a long lost child who had wandered too afield and was blessing me for having come back. Such is her remarkable spirit which brings so much happiness and cheer to so many.”

Miss Cammie had the gift of hospitality and made so many people, including artists, writers, travelers and guests feel that when they came to Melrose they had come home.

How nice it would be to have someone welcome us at the end of a long journey and make us feel special. Maybe this is at the heart of all we hope for at the end of our pilgrimage.

SOURCE: Francois Mignon Papers # 3889, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Come for your tour of Melrose Plantation and our professional guides will welcome you warmly and show you where Miss Cammie lived and the place that was so dear to Francois Mignon.

For more information regarding year-round tours please call (318) 379-0055 or

visit our website:

I Should Have Bought Two While I was At Melrose Tuesday, Oct 11 2011 

Chance Harvey Chats With "Lyle Saxon" At Melrose

Posted by Doyle Bailey for The Association For The Preservation Of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Sunday, October 9, 2011 was a remarkable day at Melrose Plantation (owned and operated by APHN). What made it a special day was the Fall Tour of Homes and delightful guests coming to revel in the sights and saga of this French Creole Plantation. Something extra was added however, or as we say in Louisiana there was laigniappe (something extra given to a customer).

The something extra was Chance Harvey, (click here for another post about Harvey)  author of “The Life and Selected Letters of Lyle Saxon”. What can I say about Chance, besides the fact she is a delightful person. Lets just deal with the problem first. How was I to know that I should have bought two copies of her book. She autographed our copy:

“for Barbara and Doyle-for the love of the Cane River Country, best,              Chance”.

The problem began when we both started the book and neither one of us wanted to share (very adult conduct). There are two book marks in the book. Here is where the problem lies:

  • the book is the first full biography of the legendary writer, Lyle Saxon, known as Mr. Louisiana and Mr. New Orleans. He spent years at Melrose Plantation in his solitary cabin.
  • Lyle Saxon was a writer of imminent skills, even though he demeaned his writing skills.  He could only be pleased that his biographer is a skilled communicator as well. Scholarly, well-researched and most readable, Chance breaks new ground and answer questions about Saxon I have not found elsewhere. (eg. where he was born).

I have always thought he looked sad in his photographs.   In speaking of his letters, Harvey writes that “they reveal the images of Saxon as a Southern  gentleman, genial host, and raconteur were self-created ones, designed to disguise his deep sense of alienation.”  

We will work out our little problem (buy another book, accede to my wife’s desire to read it first, or catch her sleeping and slink off with it).

Dr. Chance Harvey received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Millsaps, Duke, and Tulane respectively.

It is a good day when you can visit Melrose Plantation, make a new friend and discover a remarkable book.

The Life and Selected Letters of Lyle Saxon by Chance Harvey

Visit and tour Melrose Plantation and you can purchase the book at the gift shop. Unless you are single, you might want to get two copies.


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)


Springtime in Natchitoches Can Add Spring to Your Stride Monday, Mar 28 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches

Any time is a good time to visit Natchitoches and any visit to Natchitoches will result in a good time for you and your party.

There is something special about Springtime in Natchitoches.  The City of Natchitoches is breathtakingly beautiful right now.

Tulips on Rue Front. Cane River in Background


A view from the sidewalk in front of the Natchitoches Area Visitor’s Center (above). Building under construction in the background is the new Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. To the right is the Pub, a popular place to meet and enjoy good food.

Combine your visit to the Historic District of Downtown Natchitoches with a Melrose Plantation Tour.

Melrose Plantation, the Big House

For a Tour of Melrose


For information about membership in APHN, events and tours please contact us:

Phone: 318-379-0055

We will be happy to answer questions and address any concerns you may have.

APHN Seeks Vendors for Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival Monday, Jan 31 2011 


Melrose Plantation, 1833

Big House, Melrose Plantation

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation iof Historic Natchitoches

Dear Arts and Crafts Vendor:

You are cordially invited to exhibit your original work at the 37th annual
Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival to be held Saturday and Sunday, June
11-12, 2011 on the grounds of historic Melrose Plantation located 15
miles south of Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Attendance at the festival averages about 5,000 visitors. It is one of the
most successful arts and crafts festivals in Louisiana.

Your application may be downloaded at We
have also included the compliance rules which we require all of our
exhibitors to follow. Please read the compliance rules carefully. Vendors must also sign and return the sheet along with your application, check  or money order, and pictures of your products. Remember that all
products must be hand made. If not, you will be asked to remove them
from your booth.

If you have questions or comments, please contact us.

Our email address is:

Our telephone number is

(318) 379-0800.

We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.


Van and Sue Davidson

Melrose Big House, 1833

Melrose Plantation, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana is Like “Time in a Bottle” Tuesday, Dec 21 2010 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches

Of all of Jim Croce’s heartfelt songs, “Time In a Bottle” is the one that touches me at the deepest level.

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN) seeks to preserve the culture, tradition, and stories as well as the physical structures and grounds of the Melrose Plantation in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana.

Like a vintage wine, it is a delight to visit and uncork the Melrose experience. It really is like “time in a bottle”.

Visit Melrose Plantation and  step back  over 200 years in history.




Welcome To Natchitoches 1714’s Blog Site Thursday, Oct 7 2010 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for APHN

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches

Begun in 1941 and chartered as a non-profit organization in 1944, 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 and the Fall Tour of Historic Homes as well as daily guided tours of Melrose Plantation, which includes the Big House, Yucca House and the African House.


Melrose Plantation, 1833 Melrose Plantation, 1833 is owned and operated by the APHN and is open to the public for tours. Click {here} to go to the APHN website for more information.

Your visit to this French Creole Plantation on the lower Cane River will be memorable.


Melrose Plantation


There are some enchanting stories associated with Melrose Plantation.

Tour Melrose Plantation and hear the stories you will remember.

October 8, 9 & 10



Lemee House, Tour Headquarters

Tour l:     Candle Light Tour       Fri.  7 p.m-9:30 p.m.
Tour ll:    Town Tour                 Sat. 9 a.m-4:00 p.m.
Tour lll:    Country Tour             Sat. 9:a.m-4:00 p.m.
Sun. 9 a.m-3:00 p.m.

PRICES:   Individual Tour             $15.00 per person
Two-Tour Package       $30.00 per person
Three-Tour Package     $40.00 per person

Advanced reservations: (before Thursday, Oct. 7 at 4:30 p.m.)
Individual Tour                $15.00 per person
Two-Tour Package          $28.00 per person
Three-Tour Package       $38.00 per person
$5.00 per tour package for those ages 6-12 traveling with an adult.
Children under 6 free.

To reserve and purchase your tickets call: 800-259-1714
Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau