Live Oak Plantation

WFP Historical Society

Contributed from the 1976 Audubon Pilgrimage Booklet
by the WFP Historical Society

Someone once said Live Oak was a Spanish Colonial house built by a Yankee, a notion inspired by austere brick walls and corner fireplaces. Captain Elijah Adams, birthplace unknown, came here from Adams County, Mississippi, in the company of friends and relatives who chose to follow the easy practices of the Spanish government rather than remain in the Mississippi Territory after the United States fell heir to Spain's holdings above the 31st parallel. With his brother-in-law Adams purchased 500 arpents from neighboring John O'Connor in 1800 and shortly thereafter became the sole owner. About the same time that O'Connor began building his fine house, Adams built Live Oak; similarities in style and execution of the impressive woodwork indicate that the same skilled hands may have worked on both houses. Though similar, the two houses are nevertheless markedly different in character. Live Oak, like Rosebank, has two full stories and an unfinished attic. Its exterior walls, however, are all brick and not half brick and half frame. These brick walls taper subtly as they ascend; the ground floor walls bear the greatest weight and at the floor level of the upper story, the walls diminish in thickness. A tiny, concealed interior stairway supplements the outer stair circumventing Spanish taxation with Yankee ingenuity. Of seven fireplaces three are built into corners. The house reflects the architecture of the Natchez region more that that of New Orleans.

A notice in the Time Piece in 1812 announced the apothecary shop of Dr. Jonas Moore in "Elijah Adam's brick house on Bayou Sara." Capt. Adams left his plantation during the Battle of New Orleans to command a company in the 10th and 20th Consolidated Regiment. The campaign wrecked his health and he died the following year. Live Oak was acquired by Bennett Barrow of Rosebank in 1824.

For the next century Live Oak was owned by Barrows, and in 1928 was purchase by Mr. and Mrs. William T. LeSassier. One of the downstairs rooms was given over to use as a post office and upstairs, "Miss" Kate presided over a school for children in the neighborhood. The house remained in this family until its purchase last year by Mr. and Mrs. Bert S. Turner. Long active in preservation work, the Turners are effecting and adaptive restoration which Audubon Pilgrims are privileged to see in progress. Under the direction of New Orleans architect Samuel Wilson, Live Oak will be returned exteriorly to its original state. The Turners plan no structural alterations but will not attempt to conceal modern conveniences and necessities. this firsthand glimpse of the exacting means by which an historic structure is preserved is an exciting highlight of this year's Pilgrimage. (Reproduced from the 1976 Audubon Pilgrimage Booklet

House Description - 1976

Differences in style occur in window and door moldings from side to side. Window frames have decorative carved moldings planed from one solid piece of wood. Where replication is necessary, the new pieces will be constructed in exactly the same manner.

It is apparent that Live Oak was built from a specific plan. Where wooden members were to be attached to the brick outer walls, a wooden block was laid into the brickwork so that the wood could be nailed in place.

There is evidence of prefabrication in the attic framing. The rafters are numbered consecutively in large Roman numerals.

Primary woods in construction were blue poplar ( Lioriodendron tulipifeva heartwood ) and red cypress. In restoration, the original flooring will be re-installed.

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