Historic Structures

Kent Plantation, Alexandria Louisiana

Date added: June 18, 2019 Categories: Louisiana House Plantations & Farms

The structure was the second house built by Pierre Baillio II between 1796 and 1800. Records indicate that his father, Pierre I, was a native of France and a soldier in the King f s Army at Natchitoches, where he married in 1743. Pierre II was his eldest son. Young Pierre moved to Point Coupee Parish and at the age of 18 married Magdelain Emelie LaCour in 1791. The wedding is recorded in St. Ann's Catholic Church at Morganza. The couple moved to Rapides Parish about 1793 or 1794. In 1794 he was given a land grant of 501 acres north of the present Alexandria and later received five additional land grants for himself and his children totaling approximately 1741 acres. The land grant which apparently covers the site of Kent House is dated 1795, was signed by Baron de Carondelet and is on display at Louisiana State University at Alexandria. Pierre II built one house, then prior to 1800, started another which is the present Kent House. Family tradition relates that Pierre started his slaves on construction of the foundation and left for New Orleans to purchase furnishings. His was delayed, and upon his tardy return, he found the work still continuing. This resulted in the house being unusually high off the ground, but with the local flooding characteristics, it was just as well. This occurred some 12 years before Alexander Fulton was to lay out the town of Alexandria, then known as "El Rapide".

The house was built from the land itself—clay for the rose colored brick, huge handhewn cypress trunks for the beams, pillars and floors, and deer hair and mud for the "bouzillage" walls. Construction was by slaves belonging to Pierre. The deep, wide windows were designed with the possibility of fighting hostile Indians in mind. Pierre II died in 1824 and his wife in 1838. They are buried, side by side, in the old and historic Rapides Cemetery across the Red River on the high ground of Pineville.

In 1842, the heirs of Pierre and Emelie sold the plantation to the Hynson family who named it Kent after their ancestral home in Kent County, Maryland. At Mr. Hynson's death in 1875, he left the property to his youngest daughter, Sallie A. Hynson, who married Mr. James A. Ringgold of St. Louis. They lived in the home until after his death, then she sold the property to the "Kent Company" in 1905. Following this, the home changed hands several times, until Mr. Louis Daigre purchased it for a residence. The Daigre family occupied the home until 1949 when it was sold to the American Legion for a meeting hall. The Legion used the house until 1963 when that organization decided to demolish the home and construct a new facility on the site.

At this point, local citizens, concerned for the heritage of Central Louisiana, were ignited to action by the possibility of losing this historic structure. Following the organization of a non-profit corporation, Kent Plantation House, Inc., for the purpose of preserving and restoring the home, some $25,000 was raised from 217 individual contributors and several benefit functions to purchase the home and site a few blocks away on the original land grant of Pierre II. The house was moved to this site in January, 1964 and later deeded to the Louisiana Parks and Recreation Commission. This latter action was taken with the understanding that state and federal funds would be sought for restoration of the building to its original state, furnishing of the home as an historical museum, landscaping of the site, and other related improvements.