Celebrating Gone With the Wind's 75th Birthday with New Orleans' Plantations

During what little downtime I manage to squeeze into my daily routine, I often find myself flipping the channels (all 2000 of them with digital cable) catching in on whatever random movie happens to be airing.  It can't always be about Sex and the City marathons on E!  My favorites, however, is when I turn the channel and find a movie from my youth or a rememorable cult classic.  I'll admit, I may be a sucker for comedies from the 90's.  As If!

The problem, however, is that while reliving my youth I'm confronted with the oh so horrible truth that I'm getting old. To think that many of my favorites are no longer years old but now DECADES old.  Ferris Bueller's Day Off is 28 years old.  The original Thomas Crown Affair with Steve McQueen is 46 years.  And the Bond series has been running for over 52 years.  Feel the wrinkles yet? And today, today happens to be the actual birthday of another movie that is easily considered one of the most important films in cinematography. On this date in 1939, Gone With the Wind was released to the public.

Tara, Scarlett, Rhett and the whole lot of them are now 75 years old.

Tara, the fictional Southern Manse of Scarlett O'Hara

Tara, the fictional Southern Manse of Scarlett O'Hara

The film, for those who may not know or have never seen Gone with the Wind (SHOCK!), focuses on the experiences of Scarlett O'Hara, a spoiled daughter of a plantation owner during the American City War and Reconstruction Era.  As viewed from the perspective of a slaveholder, the fiction based on Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel, is a coming out story of a woman who must do everything possible, with everything possible to overcome the situation she is in following Sherman's March to the Sea during the Civil War.

To celebrate the birthday of this 20th Century Masterpiece, D'Scoop dug into its archives to our trip to New Orleans in 2013 for the annual Kitchen and Bath Show.  While in Louisiana, we took the opportunity to explore the regions surrounding NOLA including two of the ten most celebrated Plantations in New Orleans - Oak Alley Plantation & Houmas House Plantation. Both are spectacularly restored and stand as remembrances of times past, of Southern decadence, and Confederate pride.

Oak Alley Plantation - Vacherie, LA

Construction on Oak Alley, or Bon Séjur as she was once known, began in 1837 and was completed in 1839.  A thorough restoration by Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Stewart in 1925, a restoration considered one of the finest examples of adaptive restoration (incorporating modern conveniences into a true restoration) has ensured that the legacy of the Jacques Roman family remains just as stately and elegant as the day she was conceived. Although impressive enough is the original manor house, built in the then fashionable Greek Revival style, what truly remains a spectacle is the allée of Live Oaks which stretch from the front entrance to the Mississippi River.  Planted sometime between 1725 and 1750, why they were planted or by whom remains a mystery to the Oak Alley Foundation. The "Big House" and her surrounding grounds are available for tours.

Houmas House Plantation - Darrow, LA

Unlike Oak Alley Plantation, which is today used strictly as a museum, Houmas House Plantation continues to be a active residence for its owners, rebuilt in 1940 after the Great Depression forced the plantation to decay. Though the plantation has been in operation after land settled by the Houmas Indians was developed with sugar fields, the mansion, nicknamed The Crown Jewel of Louisiana's River Road, was started in 1820 by a war hero of the Revolutionary War, and finally completed in 1825 after his daughter took over the property.  The house is filled to the brim with collections curated by the current owners but it was the ormolu clock once owned by a certain now headless French queen (Marie Antoinette) and the multi-floor flying staircases connecting each floor at the main hall. The exterior's faux-stone paint work, original to the property is also a spectacular relic of the Antebellum years.  Houmas House and its grounds are available for tours.

D'Scoop wants to know.... which plantations have you visited and what within them really captured your eye?

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