Skip to Main Content
Lost Plantations of the South

Lost Plantations of the South

Marc R. Matrana
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 336
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Lost Plantations of the South
    Book Description:

    The great majority of the South's plantation homes have been destroyed over time, and many have long been forgotten. InLost Plantations of the South, Marc R. Matrana weaves together photographs, diaries and letters, architectural renderings, and other rare documents to tell the story of sixty of these vanquished estates and the people who once called them home.

    From plantations that were destroyed by natural disaster such as Alabama's Forks of Cypress, to those that were intentionally demolished such as Seven Oaks in Louisiana and Mount Brilliant in Kentucky, Matrana resurrects these lost mansions. Including plantations throughout the South as well as border states, Matrana carefully tracks the histories of each from the earliest days of construction to the often contentious struggles to preserve these irreplaceable historic treasures.Lost Plantations of the Southexplores the root causes of demise and provides understanding and insight on how lessons learned in these sad losses can help prevent future preservation crises. Capturing the voices of masters and mistresses alongside those of slaves, and featuring more than one hundred elegant archival illustrations, this book explores the powerful and complex histories of these cardinal homes across the South.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-469-0
    Subjects: History, Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    During the height of antebellum agricultural production, it is estimated that there were nearly fifty thousand plantations in the slaveholding states of the South.¹ Today, only a small fraction of these remain, and most are significantly altered from their antebellum state. These plantations represented estates ranging in magnitude from moderately sized farms with as few as twenty or so slaves to massive properties that sprawled across tens of thousands of acres and individually exploited thousands of enslaved human beings. Collectively, these estates spread from the old tobacco fields of Virginia and Maryland down to the flooded coastal rice fields of...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Upper South, East: Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland
    (pp. 1-30)

    Queen Elizabeth I granted Sir Walter Raleigh a charter to establish a colony north of Florida in 1583. A year later, he explored the Atlantic coast, calling it Virginia, in honor of the “Virgin Queen,” Elizabeth, who never married. After the tragic and mysterious loss of the Roanoke Colony in present-day North Carolina, the first permanent English settlement in the New World, Jamestown—named for King James I—was founded in 1607, by Captain Christopher Newport and Captain John Smith. During the winter of 1609–1610, nearly 90 percent of the population died during a period known as “the starving...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Upper South, West: Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee
    (pp. 31-48)

    Landlocked Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee each developed plantation economies and slave societies much later than their peripheral neighbors along the coast. The original colonies, however, supplied settlers to these undeveloped regions. And, as pioneers moved westward in search of fortune and most of all land, native inhabitants were moved further away, with many succumbing to unfamiliar European diseases to which they had no immunity.

    By the mid-eighteenth century, a few brave settlers made their way in to the future areas of Tennessee and Kentucky. Much of what is now Kentucky was purchased from Native Americans in 1768 and 1775, in...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Carolinas
    (pp. 49-80)

    First explored by the Spanish in the first half of the sixteenth century, both North Carolina and South Carolina stemmed from permanent settlements that were first established by the British. Prior to this, in present-day North Carolina the earliest English-speaking colony in the Americas was established at Roanoke Island by John White. After a trip to England for provisions, White returned to find that the entire settlement and all of its inhabitants had vanished, leaving only the word “croatoan” mysteriously carved in a tree.

    By the second half of the seventeenth century, permanent settlements had been established, and the single...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Georgia
    (pp. 81-108)

    The earliest foundations of Georgia rest in the philanthropic ideals of its notable founder, James Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe, a military leader and member of the English Parliament, visited a friend who was imprisoned for debts, and there he found conditions to be quite atrocious. He petitioned for parliamentary investigations and later pressed for debtors to be freed. He envisioned a colony that would provide homes for such debtors, along with persecuted Protestants and other disenfranchised subjects. Because his colony would serve doubly as a populated barrier protecting the northward colonies of the British from the Spanish in Florida and the French...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Alabama and Florida
    (pp. 109-138)

    The adjacent states of Florida and Alabama share similar pasts and in some areas similar geographies. The Spanish were the first to extensively explore these contiguous areas, which they claimed as a singular “Florida.” Ponce de León traveled there in 1513, and later conquistadors, including Pánfilo de Narváez and Hernando de Soto, continued surveying the region, confirming that Florida was a large peninsula instead of an island as earlier thought. Soto also explored several rivers of present-day Alabama, while the English claimed areas of what today is north Alabama as part of their Carolina and Georgia colonies.

    The first settlers...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Mississippi
    (pp. 139-176)

    The lands that now compose the modern-day state of Mississippi were first explored by Hernando de Soto in 1540. More than 150 years later Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, founded the first settlement at Old Biloxi near Ocean Springs. Natchez was founded in 1716 as Fort Rosalie and quickly became the principal development and trading hub of the region. The region’s agricultural expansion that led to the rise of a cash crop, slave-driven economy and the development of complex plantation systems did not come for yet another 100 years.

    The Mississippi region was claimed by the Spanish, British, and French,...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Louisiana
    (pp. 177-226)

    It has been said that the history of Louisiana flows through the Mississippi River, and certainly this is often the case. In 1682, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, claimed the entire Mississippi and the lands through which its waters flowed, from present-day Minnesota and beyond to the Gulf of Mexico, in the name of Louis XIV of France, the Sun King. During the early years of the colony, France established stronghold settlements at New Orleans and Natchitoches.

    Agriculture was relatively limited at first. Small family farms partially provided for the needs of the colony, while smaller numbers of larger...

    (pp. 227-250)

    While often more remembered for longhorn cattle and romanticized cowboys, the Texas frontier was also home to slave plantations, especially in the eastern part of the state, which likewise embodied the independent spirit of the region. These were great agricultural enterprises that brought forth a rich cultural and diverse architectural heritage. Of course, much of the built environment of Texas’s plantation system has been lost to time.

    The region that makes up the modern-day state of Texas was visited sparsely by Europeans in the sixteenth century, but settlers did not inhabit the region until over a hundred years later when,...

  13. Conclusions
    (pp. 251-260)

    Over the years, the agricultural enterprises that dominated the southern antebellum landscape, culture, and economy have largely dissipated. Most of the iconic columns and abodes that defined these built spaces and represented the eras in which they were created are likewise gone. The stories of the physical decline of the plantation form an intriguing tale. It leads to the many causes of architectural decay and demolition, and, further, to lessons of how and why we must preserve those few remaining architectural gems of the Old South.

    There are no accurate numbers to suggest exactly how many plantations were destroyed during...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 261-278)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 279-298)
  16. Note to the Reader
    (pp. 299-300)
  17. Index
    (pp. 301-320)