Historic Structures

Bagatelle Plantation House, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Date added: April 22, 2016 Categories: Louisiana Plantations & Farms House Greek Revival

Bagatelle is a Greek Revival house built in Significance: 1841-42 on the Mississippi River by the Tureaud- Bringier Family. It is one of several plantation homes built by this illustrious family which figured significantly in Louisiana's antebellum agricultural history.

A. D. Tureaud was Judge of St, James parish until his death in 1826, At this time, the property on which Bagatelle was to be eventually built was sold or given in payment for debts to a Jesse Strong. The estate of Jesse Strong sold the property (4 arpents by 80 arpents) to Louise Elizabeth Bringier Tureaud, widow of Judge A. D. Tureaud, on August 9, 1840. She in turn sold the property to her son, Augustin Marius Claiborne Tureaud, on October 6, 1841.

Articles of Agreement & Specifications for "Bagatelle" between R. S. Chadsey and A. M. Tureaud were signed on December 7, 1841. It is assumed that construction was started shortly thereafter, as bricks dated 1841 were found in the walls.

A. M. Tureaud died in 1853, and his widow, Frances Aurore Mather Tureaud, and children sold the house and property to Dr. Jacques Auguste Demophon Tureaud, A. M. Tureaud's brother, on February 14, 1857.

The house and property later passed back to the children of A. M. Tureaud. It changed hands some four times during the 1880's before returning, minus the back acreage and sugar mill, to the ownership of Marie Valentine Tureaud, daughter of A. M. Tureaud. Upon Valentine's death in 1914, her sister, Louise, inherited the house, and lived there until her death in 1929 - the last Tureaud to live in Bagatelle.

A nephew, Gordon MacDonald Mather of Toledo, Ohio, inherited the house from Louise. The house and five of its dependencies were moved sometime during the years 1929-32 when the levee was rebuilt over the original site. The garconnieres were lost as well as the gardens. During the move plaster fell from the ceilings and walls, destroying cornices and paintings on the walls and ceilings, these paintings being described by family members as rather elaborate. The only plaster to remain was over the fireplaces. One painting remained over the fireplace in the center room.

In 1941 Mather sold the house and property to Father C. M. Chambon. Two additional dormers were added, probably in 1939-41, when the house was repaired by Father Chambon. Two bathrooms were built within the small rear rooms of the original house. The house was extended ten feet across the rear, enclosing the back porch; a kitchen and living area were thus created. Gas heaters were placed in four of the six fireplaces and the hearths rebuilt with tile. The walls were replaced with sheetrock and the ceilings were covered with cypress planks. The entire house was electrified. Two cypress cisterns were functioning and water from them was used into the 1950's when public water became available.

Father Chambon sold it to Francis Henderson James on September 30, 1946. In 1961 the house and property passed to the heirs of F. H. James, The house and dependencies were sold by the family to Dr. and Mrs. Trenton L. James.

On October 8, 1977 the property, excluding the house and dependencies, was sold to Missouri Portland Cement Company.

In November, 1977, the house and its dependencies were moved via truck and barge on the Mississippi River to its present site on Plaquemine Point, East Bank, Mississippi River in Iberville Parish, near the East Baton Rouge Parish line.