Greek Revival Style Plantation House in East Feliciana Parish LA


Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana
Date added: March 29, 2024 Categories:
South (1996)

Holly Grove was built for planter William Woodward. He purchased the land on which the house now stands in 1826 but did not construct the present dwelling until c. 1850, during his third marriage. After he died in 1860, the children of his second marriage (the first marriage was childless) contested his will in an attempt to disinherit the third wife, Amanda Woodward. In the meantime, the Civil War intervened and financial reverses caused the property to be sold at a sheriff's sale in 1872. Amanda Woodward was the purchaser; she then lived at Holly Grove until 1917. After she died in 1921 at the age of 92, she was buried in the Woodward Cemetery on the property.

Between 1917 and 1934 the property changed hands several times. In the latter year it was purchased by Cyrus F. Rouchon, who lived there with his wife until he died in 1991. W. Lee and Saundra Overton purchased the property from Rouchon's heirs. The Overtons plan to complete an authentic restoration and make Holly Grove their home.

Building Description

Holly Grove (c. 1850) is a large two-story, brick plantation house in the Greek Revival style. It stands on a hill amid rolling countryside in rural East Feliciana Parish.

Holly Grove is very unusual when compared to other examples of Greek Revival style commonly found in Louisiana. It appears to be in the tradition of a domestic architectural type found in Regency England and in the eastern United States, i.e., a brick, five-bay, squarish, multi-story house with classical decorative elements, including a central entrance encompassed by a single-bay, single-story porch. As such, it lacks the broad columnar galleries and pedimented porticoes normally found in Louisiana examples of the Greek Revival style.

The house is constructed in brick laid up in common bond. Its main block is capped by a heavily constructed pitched roof with a massive brick gable on each side. The first floor contains a wide central hall with a double parlor separated by pocket doors on the west side and two additional rooms on the east side. Except for the pocket doors, this plan is echoed on the second story. The house has four interior brick chimneys, set against the side walls of the house, which service a total of eight fireplaces, upstairs and down. A moderate slope staircase ascends from front to rear in the central hall in a single flight.

The front and rear elevations are each articulated with a set of four colossal pilasters, with molded brick capitals, which rise to a brick entablature. The pilasters are placed to set off the central bay and mark the ends of the facade. Articulating a Greek Revival residence with pilasters in this manner is extremely rare in Louisiana and, indeed, in the Deep South. The only precedents seem to be institutional buildings.

Architectural evidence indicates that the previously mentioned single-bay entrance porch is original to the house. This evidence includes the fact that the cornice molding on the porch entablature matches the cornice molding set under the eave of the main roof. Secondly, the upper hall has a French door that opens onto a small balustraded balcony atop the porch. The configuration of this opening has not been altered, and its moldings match those of the other upstairs openings. Since this opening was always a door, it had to allow the occupants to step out onto something.

Finally, the engaged columns that flank the door and partially support the porch roof are of solid wood, indicating an early date. These were created by turning a massive piece of lumber on a lathe and then sawing the resulting fully round column in half.

Other Greek Revival features found in Holly Grove include: the use of an egg and dart motif in the woodwork of the entrance and on the cornices of the double parlors; simple Greek Revival mantels with aedicule styling; two acanthus leaf ceiling medallions in the double parlors; and aedicule motifs encompassing the front and rear doors of the central hall.

Other architectural features of interest include the transoms and sidelights which ornament the main doors, the paneling found around the front entrance and beneath the windows of the double parlors, the transoms above the interior doors, an arched opening within the west gable end of the roof, and a small c. 1880 plaster ceiling medallion in the central hall.

The present staircase appears to be original, but its balustrade appears to be constructed from salvaged parts of approximately the same period as the house. Finally, the small enclosed closet under the staircase, with its Greek Revival door consisting of two vertical panels, appears to be very old, if not original.

Behind the east end of the rear elevation is a single story, one room brick building under a pitched roof. Oral tradition indicates that this building was originally a kitchen. This assertion is contradicted by the architectural evidence. The interior of the brick walls is finished with smooth plaster and the openings feature moldings which match those in the main house. In addition, its wide tongue and groove floorboards match those of the main house. In short, this building is too finely made to have been a utilitarian building such as a kitchen. Moreover, there is no massive utilitarian cooking fireplace, which one would expect in a plantation kitchen of this period.

At some point a one story "L" shaped porch was attached to the rear of the home and the front wall of the dependency. In the 1950s the porch and dependency were incorporated into a single story rear frame addition to the house, which provided for a massive rear carport. The dependency received a tiny concrete rear extension, which was evidently intended to provide for cold storage. Finally, the interior of the dependency has been remodeled as a modern kitchen. The original walls have been covered by paneling, the floor has been covered by plywood and vinyl, and the original wooden windows have been partially bricked in beneath new aluminum windows.

The house has also been fitted with two modern bathrooms. On the lower floor, the bath is located in a small single story frame addition on the east side which abuts the now enclosed space between the main house and the dependency. The second story bathroom is behind a rear bedroom which has been subdivided. As part of the subdivision process, the bedroom's mantel has been removed.

At present the entrance porch features a pair of coupled Tuscan columns. According to the present owner, these were installed in the 1950s to replace earlier columns that had rotted. It seems certain that originally the columns were solid turned members like the half round columns which still exist at the rear of the porch. Whether these were single or coupled is not discernible from the accessible architectural evidence, although single seems more likely. The west gable of the roofline features a glazed arched opening. In all likelihood, the corresponding east gable once featured a similar opening. This has evidently been removed and replaced by brick infill laid so as to provide gaps for attic ventilation. Finally, some of the wooden window sills have been replaced with brick ledges, the roof has been repaired where damaged by a tornado, and all of the exterior brick walls (with the exception of the pilasters) have been painted.

Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Southwest (1996)
Southwest (1996)

Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana South (1996)
South (1996)

Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Southwest (1996)
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Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana West (1996)
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Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Southeast (1996)
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Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Northeast (1996)
Northeast (1996)

Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Northeast (1996)
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Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Northwest (1996)
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Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Interior (1996)
Interior (1996)

Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Interior (1996)
Interior (1996)

Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Interior (1996)
Interior (1996)

Holly Grove, Clinton Louisiana Interior (1996)
Interior (1996)