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The Rookery: 1938

The Rookery: 1938

1938. St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. "The Rookery, Trepagnier House. Norco vicinity. Abandoned plantation house now occupied by Negroes." 8x10 inch acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.


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Re: 1811 Revolt

Trepagnier House was a site along the way of a failed 1811 slave revolt that resulted in the murder of plantation owner Jean-François Trépagnier.

Trees and Hurricanes

The records indicate a hurricane based through Morgan City on June 16th, 1934. This hurricane could have easily struck St. Charles Parish.

At the same time, the trees haven't been seriously damaged in the past several years. Notice how fine the branches are on almost every major limb. I'm guessing they are just old trees. I'd also guess that if a hurricane had hit this area, the roof would be in much worse shape than it is.

Don Hall
Yreka, CA

That's Creole, cher

This house is classic Creole architecture from the earliest years of the 1800s. To see an example of this style that isn't falling down, go to Laura Plantation, outside New Orleans.

Little boy

I'm haunted by that beautiful little boy sitting on the stairs looking straight into the camera. Incredible to think that a slave revolt took place here.

Now occupied by photographers

Interesting to learn that Russell Lee also photographed this house. Too bad it's no longer available.

1811 Revolt

Trepagnier House was the primary site of an 1811 slave revolt that resulted in the killing of plantation owner Jean-François Trépagnier. Many of the descendants Trepagnier's slaves inhabited the plantation property years after the Civil War, well into the 20th century. Shell Chemical bought the plantation land in the 1950s, which is now the site of a refinery. The building was demolished at that time.

Tells a long and vast story

So correct about the laundress. This must be one of my very favorite photos seen on Shorpy. Top to bottom, what a picture!

It's true

We may live in a dirty run down house, but gosh darnit our clothes are CLEAN!

No Crackers

That's a Creole House! Yesiree. No white anglo-columns and palladian front doors here. Simple and breezy.

That's pure Louisiana

Nothing to do with Palladianism.

Trepagnier Plantation

The Trepagnier Plantation was expropriated, along with several others, by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to build the Bonnet Carre' Spillway.

Amazing perspective

Frances Benjamin Johnston has definitely become my new favorite photographer. Her capture of dilapidated but still architecturally interesting buildings is beyond compare. While I'm sure this house was never grand, it was well-designed. I would love to have seen the inside of all of the homes FBJ photographed.


That is the predecessor of the Palladian plantation houses you usually see in the Civil War movies. Notice the brick ground floor to protect against water, and the half timbered upper floor that still has some stucco that hasn't washed away yet. It's a combination of traditional European and African architecture that evolved in the extremely wet climate here in Louisiana.

Need a new word

Substandard doesn't quite work here.

Wash Day

Looks like the washing machine works, but the dryer must be out of order.

Looks like an old plantation house

1700s. I see the timber/columbage construction...turned French columns.

In a state of severe decay and I'm sure demolished today?

Fast Forward to...

some areas in New Orleans, post Katrina, and there's not much difference!

Wash n Wear

If this photo was taken in the middle of summer, those clothes would be dry in no time flat! I know. I live here and it's normal for the summer days to be at 95 degees or more. Also from the tops of the trees, it looks like there might have been a recent hurricane pass through. That's about how they look after one.

Health and Safety

Personally, I'd move the bed away from the area of the chimney.


I'd guess that a laundress lives here, that the drying clothes are someone else's.

Stranger than fiction

"Always Something Interesting" just doesn't say it well enough. This is the fascinatingest image you have posted. Thanks, Dave, for such wonderful glimpses into our history that the books just don't cover.

Needs TLC

The stairs are the definition of negligence, and the porch roof isn't doing its job. Much.


I've been rooked!

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