Highland Plantation

WFP Historical Society

Contributed from the 1975 Audubon Pilgrimage Booklet
by the WFP Historical Society

Highland is the oldest house in West Feliciana still lived in by descendants of its builder. In 1800 the widowed Olivia Ruffin Barrow came to Nueva Feliciana with three of her married children. Traveling overland in thirty covered wagons, she brought with her slaves, gold, and household possessions. The family prospered and became noted as the builders of more handsome houses than any other clan in antebellum Louisiana. Highland was their first architectural achievement. The 1804 building contract reveals that William Barrow, son of the pioneering widow, paid John Arick to build the house from plantation materials and the labor of three of Barrow's slaves. In 1808, the Eastern traveler Fortesque Cuming wrote: "I visited Mr. William Barrow, who has a very handsome house, a noble plantation of about four hundred acres of cotton all in one field, and a hundred and fifty Negroes." William's son Robert married Audubon's pupil Eliza Pirrie; another son, William Ruffin, built Greek Revival Greenwood; a daughter, Martha, became the mistress of Rosedown. The builder's youngest son, Bennett H. Barrow, inherited Highland and enlarged the house and planted the live oak grove during the 1830's. A race tract, large sugar house, and a dance hall and hospital for the slaves were also added during these years. By 1850, Highland boasted 4,350 acres of land worked by 288 slaves. Life at Highland is recorded in the diary of Bennett H. Barrow which was published and edited by Edwin Adams Davis as Plantation Life in the Florida Parishes of Louisiana, 1836-1846.

Description begins: (note as of 1973)

Hall: Rare, museum-quality Hepplewhite card table made 1790-1800 in Charlestown and brought by family from North Caroline.

Living Room: Library chair from Greenwood made in New Orleans shows Spanish influence. Very few such pieces were made and are now highly prized by Louisiana collectors. Originally upholstered in leather with large brass nails. Turned-leg cherry drop leaf table ca 1830 from Pennsylvania.

Dining Room: Country side board from North Carolina ca 1760, made from cypress, pine and cherry woods. Silverchest made from gun case from Philadelphia, 1800-1810. Empire side board made from 1830 Seignouret armoire.

Front Bedroom: Early Louisianaarmoiress possibly Seignouret (1830-1840) four post bed of same period, also possible Seignouret.

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