Historic Structures

Cherokee Plantation, Natchez Louisiana

Date added: September 24, 2015 Categories: Louisiana House Plantations & Farms

Hovering off the ground as Creole houses do, Cherokee stands one and one-half stories tall (over the almost 6' raise) and is covered by a hipped roof sheathed in wood shingles. Framing consists of cypress posts in-filled with bousillage; the foundations are brick masonry piers that lift the house a full-story off the ground. The hipped roof is cantilevered over the 12' deep galleries and hand-hewn cypress columns rise from the gallery floor to meet it. Part of the rear and side galleries was enclosed at an earlier date to accommodate modern sleeping, plumbing, and culinary needs. Bousillage walls are also found within the kitchen, although incongruent with the walls dating to the initial (1830s) construction period.

Besides the enclosure of the galleries to accommodate modern kitchen and bathrooms, the other notable interior change is the addition of a door connecting the stranger's room to the interior of the house proper. The floor plan, however, is typical of Creole houses. While far larger, measuring about 55' x 65' overall, and more refined than most Creole cottages, Cherokee's interior spaces follow a traditional asymmetrical, salle-chamber format and have multiple points of entry directly from the outside. Formal access to the house proper came by way of double doors leading into the two rooms opening onto the front gallery. A stranger's room also opens onto the front gallery. A ladder stair leads to the large attic space, whereas a trap door reveals a cellar. The present cellar originally served as a pantry. Folding or accordion doors allow the present dining room to meld into the front parlor for a larger, public entertaining space.

The house is heated by three interior chimneys; there are six fireplaces in all. The window glazing (nine-over-nine) is original, as are the floors, fireplace mantels, the punkah, and most hardware. The doors are painted to resemble wood grain, a technique known as "faux bois."

There are five outbuildings connected to the properly. There is a small structure immediately behind the big house. It exhibits wire nails and circular sawn wood, so was most likely built around the turn of the twentieth century. Three are positioned southwest of the house and include a log crib with square-notched logs and a board and batten door with hand-forged nails; a center-passage barn with two pens, made of balloon framing; and a side-shed barn, or rather a single crib with two side sheds. The last, across Highway 494 from the house, is a tenant house that reputedly served as a slave cabin for the plantation. In 2005, the tenant house had new interior finishes and the rafters appeared to be butted together rather than secured by the older, mortice and tenon method.