Destrehan Plantation is poised to undergo significant changes over the next few years as a master plan that includes the creation of a bed and breakfast on the property is rolled out.
The nearly $1.8 million construction plan, including the bed and breakfast as well as numerous other changes, has been in motion for the past two years. After the St. Charles Parish Council allowed a planning and zoning variance for the project two weeks ago, work can now begin.
Executive Director Nancy Robert said the bed and breakfast will be a source of revenue that will allow the plantation to be more independent.
"We have been planning it for a couple of years. It has always been a wish of mine because as a non-profit the income that we get from tours alone is not going to support all of our activities," she said.
The project will include the construction of four small cabins and two large double Creole cottages, one of which will be a historic building the plantation purchased last year from the Nine Mile Point area in Jefferson Parish.
The rental units will be located in an area to be named Cottage Plaza adjacent to the plantation’s mule barn where weddings and other events are held nearly every weekend.
"We have so many weddings and we know that people want to stay here and we know that it will be rented to the people attending the weddings," Robert said.
Since the Nine Mile Point building is already on the property and ready to be assembled, its renovation will likely be the first part of the project. Although the building was originally intended to be used as an administration building, another building dating back to the mid 1800s that is currently located off River Road in Hahnville has been donated to the plantation and will be placed at the end of a road going through a grove of live oaks resembling Oak Alley Plantation in St. James Parish.
The current administrative building was originally part of the Diamond area of Norco that was bought by Shell Motiva, who donated the building to the plantation. In the new plan the building will be used as a second venue outside for smaller events.
"We have a need for a place for children’s birthday parties and bridal showers, so we are going to do some remodeling and fix up the outside to make it more appealing and just have it as a spot for that."
A welcome center is also planned that will include a theater showing a film of the history of the plantation. The center may also serve as an introduction not only to visitors to the plantation, but perhaps also to the parish.
"We’re considering using this welcome center for visitors coming into the parish who want information on other attractions so they can pick up a brochure and information on the parish," Robert said.
The plantation will also begin using a new logo of an image of the plantation’s namesake, Jean Noel Destréhan, who once operated a large sugar cane operation on the site.
The project has already received funding from Shell Motiva, Freeport McMoRan, British Petroleum and the AZBY Fund, a New Orleans-based foundation established by a descendent of the Destrehan family.
"How soon we get it done is going to depend on the funding," Robert said. "We have a grant writer who is going to be looking for funds. We are going to be looking at local industry and meeting with them individually and hopefully locals will be interested in being in our donor garden."
The donor garden will be surrounded by a walkway comprised of bricks and pavers engraved with the names of people who donate at least $100. The size of the brick increases with donations at the $200, $300, $500 and $5,000 levels.
As part of the master plan Dr. Ivan Miestchovich Jr., of the University of New Orleans Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate, worked up figures on the plantation’s economic impact to the area. Miestchovich found Destrehan Plantation currently generates $1.3 million in total economic impact and supports 16 jobs, but after the proposed expansion the total economic impact is expected to grow to $2.8 million and support 30 jobs.
"We are really excited and we know this is not going to happen over night, but we have planned everything to get ready and as funding is available we’re going to start," Robert said.
|Destrehan Plantation will add four small cabins and two large double Creole cottages that will allow people to stay overnight on the site. Above is a computer generated photo of what the cabins would look like.|