For over four decades the sponsoring West Feliciana Historical Society has thrown open the doors of significant historic structures to commemorate artist-naturalist John James Audubon's stay as he painted a number of his famous bird studies and tutored the daughter of Oakley Plantation's Pirrie family, beautiful young Eliza.
When the artist arrived in the St. Francisville area in 1821, he recorded in his journal that the rich lushness of the landscape and flourishing birdlife "all excited my admiration."
Having set for himself the staggering task of painting all the birds of this immense fledgling country, Audubon would find the inspiration to paint dozens of his bird studies while residing at Oakley.
Popular as the central focus of the Audubon State Historic Site for more than half a century, Oakley has been beautifully restored and furnished in the late Federal style.
Within its hundred wooded acres are a detached plantation kitchen reconstructed on original foundations containing a weaving room and wash room, a barn full of horse-drawn vehicles and farm implements, and several rustic slave cabins. These dependencies are periodically utilized to augment the house tour with demonstrations of old-time practical skills and fascinating living-history events. Oakley also offers a picnic pavilion, hiking trails and extremely interesting visitor center/museum.
A must-see is the Rural Homestead, with its authentic cabins and outbuildings and lively demonstrations of the rustic skills of daily pioneer life.
Daytime features are offered from 9:30 to 5:00, Sunday 11:00 to 4:00 for touring homes; Friday evening activities are scheduled from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., and the popular Saturday Soiree begins at 7:00 p.m.
The Historic District around Royal Street is filled during the day with the happy sounds of costumed children singing and dancing the Maypole.
In the evening, as candles flicker and fireflies flit among the ancient moss-draped live oaks, there is no place more inviting fora leisurely stroll.
Friday evening features old-time Hymn Singing at the United Methodist Church, Graveyard Tours at Grace Episcopal Cemetery (last tour begins at 8:15 p.m.), and a wine and cheese reception at Bishop Jackson Hall (7:00 to 9:00 p.m.) featuring Vintage Dancers and young ladies modeling the pilgrimage's exquisitely detailed 1820's evening costumes, nationally recognized for their authenticity.
Light Up The Night, the Saturday evening Soiree, features live music and dancing, dinner and drinks beginning at 7:00 p.m.
For tickets and tour information, contact West Feliciana Historical Society, Box 338, St. Francisville, LA 70775; phone 225-635-6330 or 225-635-4224; or email email@example.com.
A package including daytime tours and all evening entertainment Friday and Saturday is available. Tickets can also be purchased at the Historical Society Museum on Ferdinand Street.
For information on St. Francisville overnight accommodations, shops, restaurants, and recreation in the Tunica Hills, visit www.stfrancisville.us , www.stfrancisville.net , or www.stfrancisvillefestivals.com