Oak Alley Plantation on the Mississippi River near Vacherie, Louisiana is protected as a National Historic Landmark. It is named after its distinguishing feature, an alley created by a double row of live oaks about 800 feet (240 meters) long that was planted in the early 18th century. The classic Greek-revival style antebellum home was built in 1839 and located on a bend in the mighty Mississippi River between historic New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Oak Alley Plantation has been called the "Grande Dame of the Great River Road" and sits amongst four or five other plantations along this stretch of the river. Sugar, or white gold, was produced for many years with most of the labour carried out by up to 100 slaves. Due to economic pressures, the loss of slave labour and poor management, the plantation fell into disrepair and was abandoned for some years in the early 1900's with cattle roaming through the house, destroying stairs and the Italian marble floors. In 1925 the property was acquired by Andrew and Josephine Stewart, who commissioned architect Richard Koch to supervise extensive restoration. The Stewarts were the last owners to live in residence. Josephine Stewart left the historic house and grounds to the Oak Alley Foundation, which opened them to the public. The main house is fully restored, and the Foundation is in process of restoring the slave quarters, the historic gardens, and other buildings.
Is Oak Alley really haunted? Helen Dumas and Theresa Harrison, tour guides and family retainers for many years, claimed they often felt and heard "things," not the least of which was the sight of billowing dust and the clear sound of a horse drawn carriage driving up one of the plantation gravel roads, but nothing ever materialised. Louise Borne, office worker, claimed to have seen empty chairs rocking in unison, things moved from table and desk tops, and both she and another tour guide and restaurant assistant, attest to the phenomena of the clip-clop of an invisible horse drawn carriage, and the sound of crying from somewhere in the mansion. Juliette Temple, tour guide, saw a figure seated on one of the beds in the lavender room and, on another occasion, had an encounter in the kitchen area with a ghostly man in gray wearing boots. I wonder?
At its peak, Oak Alley Plantation was home to between 50 and 100 slaves. Oak Alley was unusual at the time as the slaves homes or quarters were positioned quite close to the 'big house'. The most noted slave who lived on Oak Alley Plantation was a field slave named Antoine. He was listed as "Antoine, 38, Creole Negro gardener/expert grafter of pecan trees", with a value of $1,000 in the inventory of the estate conducted on J.T. Roman's death in 1848. Antoine mas a master of the techniques of grafting and, after trial with several trees, succeeded in the winter of 1846 in producing a variety of pecan that could be cracked with one's bare hands; the shell was so thin it was dubbed the "paper shell" pecan.