Louisiana, Mississippi, 
and Arkansas



This is the capitol building of Louisiana, in Baton Rouge -- quite an unusual design for a capitol.
The only other one with a skyscraper design is the capitol of Nebraska.


This was the capitol of Louisiana before the above one was built, dating from 1849 -- I like it better!


Perhaps the most famous antebellum mansion of all -- Oak Alley Plantation on the south shore of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans:


The Houmas House plantation, built in 1840, on the north shore of the river:


The Houmas House:


The largest antebellum plantation house in the country -- Nottoway.
It was getting some maintenance work done on it here.


St. Louis Cathedral, in New Orleans -- construction started in 1789:


In the French Quarter of New Orleans, famous for its buildings from the 1700's with their elaborate cast iron railings:


The little Place d'Armes Hotel in the French Quarter:


The most famous example of cast iron rail work in New Orleans -- the Cornstalk Fence:


Cemeteries in New Orleans have traditionally been above ground.
The early settlers found out that in the soft, swampy bayou land, things buried underground tend to eventually work their way back to the surface!
These are tombs from the famous Metairie Cemetery:





They still build them like they used to.


Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, New Orleans -- the oldest bar in America!


The trees have beards down here....


Pictures from Mississippi --
my home state!


The Mississippi capitol -- one of the finest in the country:


Inside the Mississippi capitol:


The town of Natchez, Mississippi, on the banks of the Mississippi River, was at one time the fifth-richest town in America, because of the cotton trade.
It has more plantation houses and antebellum mansions than anywhere else in the country.
This is one of my favorites, Melrose Plantation:


Melrose Plantation is one of the most intact antebellum estates in the country, still having the furniture of the original owners inside.
It is now owned by the National Park Service, as part of the Natchez National Historical Park.


The largest house in Natchez is Stanton Hall.  It was not a plantation house, it was built as a grandiose downtown mansion and occupies a whole block.


Stanton Hall has some fine cast iron railings too:


The term "antebellum" is not a particular style of architecture.
The word simply means "before the war" in Latin -- meaning the Civil War in this case, which started in 1861.
Stanton Hall was built from 1852 to 1857 for Frederick Stanton, a cotton merchant.


Auburn House in Natchez, from 1812 -- a typical example of Greek Revival architecture, the preferred style for southern mansions.
Its builder, Lyman Harding, the first Attorney General of Mississippi, intended it to be "the most magnificent house in the state" at the time it was built.


Dunleith, in Natchez -- one of the grandest Southern plantation homes of all:


It is the only antebellum house in the state with columns on all four sides:


This is a side view:


Choctaw House, in downtown Natchez -- constructed in 1836:


Magnolia Hall, Natchez -- from 1858


Cherokee House, Natchez, from 1836:


The most famous, amazing, and original plantation house of all -- Longwood.
It is the largest octagonal house in the country.


Longwood was the dream of Haller Nutt, a cotton broker.
There is nothing whatsoever that is traditional about this house, it is unlike anything else in the country.


A view from one of the many verandas, with its wooden columns:


Another view of the front:


Haller Nutt was a cotton planter, with extensive land ownings just across the river in Louisiana.
His dream was to have the most amazing house in the South, even though the locals called it "Nutt's Folly".
But like most dreams, it didn't quite come true.
The house was to contain 32 rooms in all.  A plan of the first floor: 


Construction started in 1859, but was halted forever just two years later with the start of the Civil War.  It will never be completed.


The bricks were manufactured on-site by slaves.  Many bricks required unique shapes, such as rounded sides or seven surfaces:


A view looking straight up the dome.
Indirect lighting was to be provided by large mirrors in the dome, reflecting sunbeams to smaller mirrors to light the interior rooms below.


In order to get the finest craftsmen, Haller Nutt hired them from the Northern states.
But as soon as the war started, they abandoned their tools and their pots and barrels of paint, and fled back to the North, never to return.


The workmen's tools have been sitting where they were left for over 150 years now:


This is the heavy shipping box that Haller Nutt's grand piano was shipped in from New York.
Stieff was considered a very fine brand of piano before the Civil War.
Many elaborate furnishings, mosaic floors, marble mantels and statues were on order from France, England, and Italy.
Most were seized en route on the high seas during the war.  Today some of these items meant for Longwood are in national museums.


The slave quarters behind the main house were much nicer than most:


Haller Nutt lost almost everything during the Civil War, his land, his business, his slaves, his dream.
He pretty much died of a broken heart, in 1864.


His grave is on the property not far from his exotic mansion.  To the right is that of his wife, Julia Nutt.
Julia and their children lived in nine rooms in the basement of the house, the only part that was ever completed, for many years.  She died in 1897.


In spite of the many mansions, Natchez is no longer a rich town.  These quaint row houses are how many in town have always lived:


Also in Natchez -- the home of fine muscadine wine!
Muscadines are a wild native species of grape, with a very distinctive and excellent flavor.


The pretty little Confederate Memorial Chapel in Grand Gulf State Park, Mississippi.  Built in 1868.


"Away down South in the land of cotton...."



In Greenwood, Mississippi -- the road to everywhere.  Or to three different directions, anyway.


Well they better just hurry up and get out of the way!


The one great antebellum house that is even sadder than Haller Nutt's Longwood -- Windsor Plantation:


Down a long winding road from Port Gibson, Mississippi, in a desolate field far out in the country, stand 23 giant Corinthian columns:


Windsor had been the largest, most majestic mansion in the state.  It cost nearly $5 million to build (in today's money).
It had 25 rooms, each with its own fireplace, and had interior baths with running water provided by a tank in the attic.
The great metal columns were cast in St. Louis and shipped down the Mississippi river.  The river was visible from the top floor of the house.


Its owner, Smith Daniell II, died just a few weeks after Windsor was completed.


The family lost most of their possessions during the war, but the house survived.  Mark Twain stayed here once.


But then, one fateful day, as the family was preparing a fine dinner party, a guest dropped a cigar on a balcony.
And that was it for magnificent Windsor.



The capitol building in Little Rock.  Yes, the dome really is a different color from the rest of the building.
The lower part of the building was built with limestone from Arkansas, but the dome is made of a more lightweight stone from Indiana.


The little Thorncrown Chapel in the Ozark Mounains near Eureka Springs, Arkansas -- a very famous piece of modern architecture:


More fine Arkansas architecture:



A garden in the Ozarks:


The Buffalo River -- designated a National Wild and Scenic River by the National Park Service:


Notice the kids sitting on the wall, to give you an idea of the scale of things:


A group of Mennonite people were having a picnic at the Buffalo River:




Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Hot Springs is one of the oldest national parks in the country, established in 1921.  It is also the smallest.
Compared to the huge, magnificent national parks of the western states, visitors often consider it not really worthy of national park status -- scenically, it is nothing special.  
But age must count for something:  because of the mineral springs, the area was designated a national protected area by congress way back in 1832 --
many decades before the concept of national parks ever came into existence.  So it has the longest history as a protected area of any national park.

Its main job is to preserve an important aspect of American history from over 100 years ago --
the days when bathing in hot springs and mineral waters was considered an effective cure for all kinds of ailments and illnesses.
Hot Springs contains the largest row of bathhouses ever built in America, constructed in various architectural styles.
Though most are closed now, the National Park Service oversees the maintenance and preservation of the buildings.
For over a century, millions of people came to "take the cure", spending weeks or months getting mineral baths every day.  
The effectiveness of it all is quite debatable, and even made some diseases such as tuberculosis worse.  But in those days there were few other options.
Besides, the large social scene in the town, with rich and famous people coming from all over the country,
and the feel of being on vacation while getting pampered in elegant spas, could make for quite a pleasant experience in spite of one's health problems.

Hot Springs was hugely popular for many years, as were other similar but smaller places such as Mineral Wells, Texas, or Warm Springs, Georgia.
But eventually the custom and institution of mineral baths started dying out with improvements in modern medicine;
people figured out it was much easier and more effective to pop a pill than to sit in hot water for weeks. 


Looking up Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs, Arkansas, to the Arlington Hotel; 
the Hale Bathhouse is on the right:


The Quapaw Baths, named after the original Indians who lived in the area:




The Ozark bathhouse:




The Buckstaff bathhouse -- this is the only one that has been in continuous operation until the present:


To the right of the Buckstaff is the Lamar bathhouse.


The Fordyce was the most luxurious of the bathhouses, but it was the first to close.



The Superior Baths was the oldest and cheapest of the bathhouses, but their water was as good as anybody else's.


The Arlington was the largest by far:


Just behind Bathhouse Row was the impressive Army-Navy Hospital, which also used the mineral waters for treatments.  It is now a vocational training school.


There are pretty fountains all over town to drink from, which seemed appealing on the summer day when I was there --
but no, the water is hot!  (Duh....)

That's all, folks... y'all come back!