Predating the Louisiana Purchase by around seven years is Kent Plantation House, an authentic Creole house that remains today as one of the oldest still-standing structures in the state. But a future as a preserved slice of central Louisiana’s early 18th-century history wasn’t always in the cards for this elevated beauty.
Built by Pierre Baillio II around 1796, Kent Plantation House would pass through a number of hands before ending up under the ownership of the American Legion in 1949. The Legion used the house as a meeting hall for nearly 15 years before deciding they needed a new facility in 1963.
Demolition would almost certainly have been guaranteed if not for the actions of a group of concerned citizens who rallied together to form Kent Plantation House, Inc. The new non-profit, keen to protect the heritage of central Louisiana, raised $25,000 to purchase and move the house. By January 1964, the house was safe from harm at its new location just a few blocks away. Eventually, Kent Plantation House was deeded to the Louisiana Parks and Recreation Commission, which—with much help from the Alexandria Town Committee of NSCDA-LA—restored the site to its original appearance and opened it as a museum in 1975.
Visitors today have the opportunity to explore a house that is very much a part of its location. Local materials can be found in the Cyprus used for the roof beams and floors, the clay used for the bricks of the tall piers, and the deer hair and mud used for the walls. Plus, furnishings and outbuildings reveal what life was like for both well-to-do Creole families of the era and the enslaved and free people who toiled on their plantations.