Palo Alto Plantation- Donaldson Louisiana

As I was touring the River Road Plantations of Louisiana, I came upon this unexpected treasure that was not listed anywhere. It was the best surprise of my day.

Palo Alto has six thousands acres of sugar cane still being grown annually. It is a beautiful site. The old slave quarters are dilapidated but still there as a shell. I found this place by accident as I was lost after my visit to Vacherie, which you will read about in my next post, and this discovery was not on the map. I was so taken with the place I wandered around photographing until dark. I felt like I had found a beautiful, but forgotten world surrounded by live oaks and magnolias.

Vachaalo Alto Plantation, whose name means “tall trees,” was once a wedding gift from the wealthy Spanish plantation owner, Oscar Ayraud to his daughter Rosalie. The property was later purchased by Jacob Lemann. Since his purchase in 1865, the plantation has been home to every crop native to Louisiana’s rich soil. The plantation has grown considerably in its 150-year existence to encompass more than 6000 acres of sugarcane, pasture land, wooded land, and ponds.

Since its existence, the lands have been hunted and managed privately by its owners. Today, the lands have been opened to the public for guided hunting on its tradition rich land. The “Log Cabin” lodge was built by Jacob’s great grandson, Arthur Lemann Jr., and was constructed with materials from one of pirate Jean Lafitte’’ hideouts. The lodge is nestled in a pristine oak and cypress grove overlooking picturesque Bayou Tomare. Relics surround the rustic, yet comfortable, log cabin and antiques of the plantation’s past steeped in the bayou culture. The house is not on a plantation tour,unfortunately.

7 thoughts on “Palo Alto Plantation- Donaldson Louisiana

  1. Hello, just started reading your welcoming blog. Thank you for all these stories and sensitive photographs. I’ll be touring around Louisiana at the end of March and was just thinking of how convenient it could be having your blog as kinda tour guide.
    Something else: I copied your photo of the Plantation House to my blog (post scheduled for March 29) assuming your permission and hoping you would like. Please let me know if there is anything not ok with that. Bye for now and best regards, Dee

  2. Dear Susan,
    I came across your blog “par chance,” but I felt compelled to leave a little message. I am the youngest grandson of the late Arthur Lemann, Jr. and spend many weekends down at Palo Alto, as it has remained in the family since Jacob Lemann’s acquisition of the home and its property. I take it you may have done some Google searching and found the website for Palo Alto Gun & Rod Club for information. Oftentimes that’s the best we can do these days!
    However, I would love to share some “insider scoop” on the history of this acquisition. Jacob Lemann did not purchase the house but accepted it as payment of a debt owed to him by Mr. Ayraud. Some may have called him a “scalawag” back in those times, but we consider him a “business man” – like a real “Rhett Butler” if you will.
    Additionally, Palo Alto and the highway were not always shaded in the lovely live oak alley it does today. Those trees were actually planted as saplings by two of my uncles in their formative years. They were ordered to do so by my grandfather as punishment for one of their many “canaille” pranks they pulled on my mother and aunts.
    Although it is something we’re proud of, and dearly enjoy sharing stories and histories of the home and its property, we’re more inclined to think it fortunate not to be on a plantation tour. It is to this day a living residence on a working sugar plantation. Very few homes like this have remained in the family, in it’s original functioning condition, for such a long time.
    Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my tid-bits. Keep doing what you are doing. More people should be made aware of these treasures in Louisiana (they’re all over); and the people who are aware greatly appreciate the efforts and respect someone as yourself displays in giving such recognition.

    Best wishes,
    Chris Ortte

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