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In Memoriam | Norman J. Marmillion, Jr. | 1946-2022

Posted by Joseph on October 13, 2022

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in..." Greek Proverb

Nearly thirty-five years ago, Norman Marmillion came to an overgrown complex of buildings on the River Road of St. James Parish, and while many passed it by, he was inspired. Undeterred by the weeds and cobwebs, he went to work. Norman was a true renaissance man who had a vision of illuminating the rich history and unique creole culture of Laura Plantation. Through his tireless efforts, he restored and opened Laura to millions of vistiors from across the country and throughout the world. He challenged the way history was being taught; he researched and wrote, and he planted many trees.

On Tuesday, October 11, 2022, Norman unexpectedly passed away surrounded by family and close friends. He touched the lives of many and his family is currently planning a memorial in his honor. It seems only fitting to celebrate his energy and vitality at one of his favorite events, the annual December bonfire. Details for this memorial will be announced later.

For those of you who would like to share your memories or condolences, we invite you to post them here or to write in care of Laura Plantation, 2247 Hwy 18, Vacherie, LA 70090. We are compiling a memory book of photos and stories to share with those who loved him, and we welcome your contributions.

Being a great advocate for the environment, one way you can honor Norman's legacy is by planting a tree... even if you never sit in its shade.

Black History Month 2019

Posted by Joseph on February 07, 2019

When Laura Plantation opened to the public in 1994, it became the first plantation on the River Road to candidly discuss slavery in each and every guided tour, including the names and personal stories of Nina (a cook), Henriette (a housemaid), Anna (Laura's nurse), and Pa Philippe (a field hand).

The story of slavery is inextricably linked to the history of Creole Louisiana. From the first cargo of enslaved West-Africans to arrive in La Nouvelle-Orléans in the 1720s during the French colonial period, to the transfer of Louisiana to the United States in 1803, to the subsequent importation of American slaves from the Eastern Seaboard post-1808, these people would shape the language, the culture, and the landscape of the region.

At the death of Guillaume Duparc in 1808, buildings, livestock, buttons, clothes, and furniture, along with seventeen men, women, and children were included in the mercantile inventory of his material possessions. Categorized by name, age, origin, work-skill, and monetary value, these individuals represent a cross-section of the diversity of the enslaved populations in early 19th century Louisiana.   

This panel, on display at Laura Plantation, is a transcription of the original, handwritten document in French. These are the ancestors of many of the slaves who would remain on the Duparc-Locoul Plantation until the Civil War, through Reconstruction, and into the early 20th century.  

Over the past 25 years, meticulous research in archives in Louisiana; St. Louis, MO; Washington, DC; and Normandy, Paris, and Bordeaux, France has allowed historians to reconstruct complete biographies and family trees for many of the people who were enslaved on this sugar farm.

Come, take a tour with us. Hear their stories, walk in their footsteps, see their faces, and say their names.



Posted by Joseph on January 19, 2019

What better way to begin 2019 than with a monthly blog from #LauraPlantation?! Every month, we will bring you "un 'tit brin" ("a little something") about all things #creole.

It's January, so that means it's CARNIVAL TIME, y'all! Carnival begins on January 6th (the Feast of the Epiphany in the Roman Catholic Church) and officially ends at midnight on Mardi Gras (also called "Shrove Tuesday"). Mardi Gras is technically only a single day, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

Following Laura Locoul's début into New Orleans Creole society during Carnival 1882, she writes in her Memories of the Old Plantation Home, "The rest of the winter was a round of countless balls, dinners and luncheons... No matter how worn out I was and was the last to leave the French Opera House on Mardi Gras night or the next morning, I always went to church on Ash Wednesday to receive the ashes and being Lent well, if possible."

Here is Laura costumed as "Mephistopheles," complete with devil horns and pitchfork, for the Semmes Début Fancy Dress ball in 1886.

In 1887, Laura's friend Annie Howard was Queen of Carnival. She asked Laura to be one of her Maids of Honor in the Court of Rex. Here is an image of an official invitation to the Rex Ball in 1887 and the silver pill box Laura received as a favor, engraved "Rex Feb. 22, 1887, Laura Locoul."

Happy Carnival, everyone!

BOOK RELEASE: "Laura Plantation–Images and Impressions"

Posted by Joseph on December 09, 2017


CONTACT: The Laura Plantation Store

[email protected] 

Laura Plantation launches new book of photos and essays

“Images and Impressions” offers a poetic vision of one of River Road’s most popular plantation venues.

Vacherie, LA, USA – December 1, 2017

The story-rich tour experience at Laura Plantation has made it one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Louisiana’s historic Mississippi River Road. The plantation’s tours focus on the unique “Creole culture” of 19th century Louisiana as described in the memoirs of Laura Lacoul Gore, the last of four generations of her family who owned Laura Plantation. The tours and Laura’s memoirs deliver a compelling and dramatic look inside 100 years of life on this Louisiana sugar plantation. 

The new book, Laura Plantation–Images and Impressions, lets visitors deepen their Laura Plantation experience through photographs and personal essays by local Louisiana writer and photographer, William Guion.

“Images and Impressions was both a joy and a challenge to create,” Guion says. “I rarely get the chance to combine my personal writing with my photographs in the same project. The book’s content is far from a restatement of information covered in the plantation’s tours. It’s a separate creation that blends visual details of the plantation and grounds with my personal artistic response to each thing I photographed.“

Guion, a native of south Louisiana, has worked for more than three decades as a professional writer and fine-art photographer, focusing on the landscapes and iconic live oak trees of Louisiana and California. This is his fourth book of photographs. His writings and images have appeared in numerous publications like Louisiana Life, Country Roads magazine, the Journal of the International Oak Society, the Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate, Under the Oaks magazine (the alumni publication of Newcomb College of Arts), and books like Live Oak Lore by Ethelyn Orso, Spiritual Literacy by Frederick and Mary Ann Brussat, and Folklife in Louisiana through Photography by Frank DeCaro.

In 1994, Guion met Norman Marmillion, who with his wife Sand, had just begun the extensive restoration of the Laura Plantation home and gardens. After Guion made some initial photographs of Laura’s historic live oak trees, the Marmillions commissioned him to create a book of photographs of the plantation and urged him to pair his images with his personal impressions of Laura.

Sand Marmillion responded to the finished book saying, “Even though I see the plantation most every day, you’ve shown me a new perspective on a familiar place. You’ve let me see Laura through fresh eyes. I love it!”

The travel-sized book is a perfect souvenir or gift item for visitors. Copies of the hard-cover book are available through the Laura Plantations gift shop or website. For book purchase information, contact the plantation gift shop at [email protected]

For details about the book’s photographs and stories, contact William Guion at [email protected], or through his website,