Cottage Plantation, St. Francisville Louisiana
The Cottage Plantation has practically all of the original outbuildings or dependencies remaining in good condition, therefore, constitutes a complete working plantation just as it was in the early 1800's.
The plantation contains the main house; the School House, which was at one time the law office for Judge Thomas Butler, the first Criminal Court judge of the Florida Parishes and a member of Congress; the outside kitchen; a smokehouse; and the utility house containing saddle and harness room, commissary, china storage room, and lumber room. Also on the grounds are two greenhouses, a carriage barn, a horse barn and three slave cabins.
Thomas Butler, a representative from Louisiana; born near Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pa., April 14, 1785; attended the common schools and received a College education in Pittsburgh, Pa.; studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1806, and commenced practice at Pittsburgh, Pa.; moved to Mississippi Territory about 1807; Captain of a cavalry troop in the Mississippi Territory Militia in 1810; purchased land in the Parish of Feliciana, Orleans Territory, and settled there in 1811; appointed Parish Judge December 14, 1812; appointed Judge of the Third District by Gov. Claiborne of Louisiana, March 4, 1813; elected to the Fifteenth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Thomas B. Robertson, reelected to the Sixteenth Congress, and served from November 15, 1818 to March 3, 1821; unsuccessful candidate for nomination in 1820; appointed special judge of the third judicial district ward affiliated with the American Party; owing to ill health declined to be a candidate for Congress in 1844; owner of twelve sugar and cotton plantations; president of the board of trustees of the Louisiana College, Jackson, La., member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati; died in St. Louis, Missouri, August 7, 1848; interment on his plantation, "The Cottage" near St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.
Very little information was found on the Butler property known as The Cottage except that it was considered their home. Most of the available information concerned other property owned by the Butlers which was considered to be investments.
The Cottage Plantation is located on U. S. Highway 61, six miles north of St. Francisville, Louisiana, on the east side of the road. It stands complete as it did in antebellum days, having in addition to the plantation home the old school house, outside kitchen, milk house, carriage house, barn, slave houses, and other outbuildings. The house is furnished with much of the original furniture.
The Cottage Plantation is located on land secured by John Allen and Patrick Holland by Spanish Land grant in 1795, and acquired by Judge Thomas Butler about 1800.
Low, rambling, with an exceptionally long front gallery, the main house is composed of a series of buildings joined together, erected from 1795 to 1859, with the core, or original structure, from the Spanish colonial era.
The house consists of two buildings in the form of an L with the original house as part of the foot of the L. The original house was about 42 feet in length, and it was extended to 85 feet in the very early 1800s. The extension copied the architecture of the original building so that it appears to be one structure. The roof at the rear of the house was raised in the early 1800s to provide a gallery running the length of the house and it copied the front of the house.
The last section of the house to be built was the great wing, or the side of the L, 65 feet long, whose front gallery adjoins the back gallery of the original building. A unique feature in its construction is that the whole length of the cornice is pierced by a series of louvers, serving the double purpose of ventilating and keeping the glare off the gallery.
The Cottage is completely built of virgin cypress, except for the massive sills (16 x 16 inches) which are of blue poplar. All of the pillars on the galleries are hand wrought, as is the exterior and interior woodwork. There are twelve square rooms in the main house and four in the wing. The rooms in the main section of the house open onto the gallery through door windows with stationary shutters. Every room is furnished with a hand-carved fireplace mantle, some of extreme simplicity and others elaborate with fluted Doric columns and panels in a sunburst design.
The roof of cypress weatherboarding is broken by second-floor dormer windows.
The dependencies are all of wood construction, generally cypress and wherever located in the yard have shingled roofs.
Schoolhouse: 14 ft. by 26 ft. with 8 ft. overhanging roof on the west side, 6 ft. gallery on the north side, 2 rooms each with fireplace. In the days when the building was used as a school, one room was the school room and the other the tutor's bedroom.
Milk House: 12 ft. 3 in. square, in this building milk from the plantation dairy was processed into milk, cream, butter, etc.
Kitchen: 30 ft. 3 in. x 18 ft. 6 in., contains two rooms, one the kitchen, the other the laundry. Massive fireplaces rear extending 7 ft. 8 in. from the building.
Greenhouses: 2 in number, of brick construction, 12 ft. 8 in. wide and 20 ft. in length.
Cistern Sheds: 2 in number, roof supported by corner posts and are 10 feet square.
Carriage Barn: 20 ft. 4 in. wide, 30 ft. long with overhanging shed on the east side extending 18 ft.
Horse Barn: 2 ft. 6 in. wide, 32 ft. 6 in. long with overhanging sheds on the east and west sides each extending 10 ft. 8 in.
Slave Cabins: 3 in number, each containing 2 rooms, fireplace in each room, 32 ft. 6 in. long.
Cemetery: Walled, 40 ft. x 55 ft.
Smokehouse: 15 ft. 3 in. wide by 15 ft. 2 in. in length.
Utility House: 20 ft. 3 inches square, contains four rooms, as follows: Saddle or tack room, Commissary for plantation workers, room for storage of dishes and items for the dining room, Lumber room for storage of trunks, suitcases and traveling equipment.