Audubon State Historic Site features Oakley House a plantation home where the famous naturalist John James Audubon once worked as a tutor. The rooms have been restored in the style of the late Federal Period (1790-1830), reflecting their appearance when Audubon stayed there. Take part in African American influenced cooking demonstrations in the historic kitchen. And visit two slave cabins for a fuller picture of life during this period.
This lush natural setting, with a variety of birds singing throughout the 100-acre forest, still inspires visitors. Audubon came upriver from New Orleans to teach drawing to Miss Eliza Pirrie, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Pirrie, owners of Oakley. The arrangement was short-lived, and he returned to New Orleans after four months. He completed or began 32 bird paintings while at Oakley.
The tall, airy house is a great example of colonial architecture adapted to its climate. Built around 1806, it predates the relatively heavy details of classic revival in Southern plantation homes and claims distinction for its beautiful simplicity. A West Indies influence can be seen in the jalousied galleries which allow cool breezes to drift through the rooms while keeping out rain and the glare of the sun. Adam mantels, delicate decoration of the exterior gallery stairs and a simple cornice frieze are Oakley's only ornaments.
The large, detached plantation kitchen, typical of the period, was reconstructed on the old foundations, around the original chimney. The kitchen building also contains a weaving room and an ironing/wash room. Two slave cabins, located a short distance from the rear of the house, give a glimpse into the laborers' way of life on the plantation. These cabins provide the backdrop for programs highlighting the impact of African Americans in developing early America.