History Magnolia Mound Plantation, Baton Rouge Louisiana

The Spanish Land Grants state that on December 17, 1786, James Hillins received a patent for 1,054 arpents about one-and-one-half miles from the Fort at Baton Rouge. Little is known of Hillins except that an inventory taken at the time of his wife's death on December 17, 1789, indicates that indigo was the main crop of the plantation.

Hillins sold the plantation to John Joyce in 1791. A native of Ireland, Joyce immigrated to this country and became very successful as a contractor and developer. He and John Turnbull were "copartners in trade, plantation, etc", having large land holdings in Mobile, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge. Turnbull resided in Baton Rouge and Joyce in Mobile. During this time the original plantation house in Baton Rouge was built and the cultivation of cotton begun. On May 9, 1798, Joyce drowned at sea en route from Mobile to New Orleans. His partner, Turnbull, died in September of the same year.

The longest litigation involving the largest (dual) estate that has appeared in the West Florida Records, apparently is the partition sale of the Widows of John Turnbull and John Joyce. During the settlement of Joyce's estate, the name "Magnolia Mound" appeared for the first time in a documented record. At this time Constance Joyce moved to Baton Rouge and married Duplantier. The exact date of their marriage is not known

Duplantier, a native of France, served as an aide to the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War. Later, he was influential in the development of Louisiana. When Lafayette was granted land rights in Louisiana by Congress, Duplantier was Lafayette's representative in these land transactions. Lafayette returned to this country for a triumphal tour in 1824 and 1825. After visiting New Orleans, Lafayette and his entourage took a boat to Baton Rouge.

Duplantier died in 1827 and his wife in 1841.

Some of the Magnolia Mound property had been sold during the Duplantier ownership to family members and others, but in 1846 Magnolia Mound passed out of family possession. Since that time, there have been many different owners.

George Hall owned Magnolia Mound from 1849 to 1869. In 1860, Magnolia Mound was a flourishing enterprise. In the publication The Large Slaveholders of Louisiana, there are thirty-two owners listed for the Parish of East Baton Rouge. Based on the value of the real and personal properties, only ten were wealthier than Hall.

From these prosperous times Magnolia Mound was to face hard times during the Civil War, when the Federal troops occupied it. A collection of letters at Magnolia Mound from George Hall and his foreman tell about the ravages of the Civil War and the problems of reconstruction. Magnolia Mound was stripped of its crops, cattle and household belongings.

After a succession of owners, Robert Hart, a land developer and Mayor of Baton Rouge, bought Magnolia with 800 acres in 1904. Through Hart and his descendants selling off or subdividing the property, only 5.364 acres remain today.

In 1965, a Hart descendant sold Magnolia Mound to Al German, from Texas, who planned to raze the structure and build a high-rise apartment building. Local citizens rallied to save the house, and the Parish of East Baton Rouge expropriated the property in December 1966. The Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Inc., leased the property for twenty-five years in 1968 and restored the plantation house to the 1815-1820 period from 1971 to 1975.