With recent improvements to the grounds and plans for an addition in the fall, Destrehan Plantation Executive Director Tracy Smith said he is excited about the future of the East Bank attraction.
“We added additional brick paved walking paths throughout the site, including the path that leads from the front of the main house to the iron gate at River Road, around the rose garden and all the way to the Haydel-Miller museum that houses the 1811 Slave Revolt exhibit,” Smith said. “We also had extensive work done to many of the live oak and pecan trees on the property that included pruning, trimming and termite treatment.”
Smith said the recent set of improvements were funded through a $96,000 grant received from the Norco Economic Development Fund through the Greater New Orleans Foundation. The additional brick walkways have been planned for a while, he said, adding the complete scope of the project was carried out over several years in phases.
“This phase of the brick paving project was the largest and is the third and final phase,” he said. “The brick paving project will extensively improve the experience for all visitors, mostly for those visitors in wheelchairs, walkers and with other mobility issues. The paths extend to all but one of the existing buildings on the site, allowing all visitors access to the museums that in the past were difficult – if not impossible – to get to for visitors in wheelchairs and walkers. The new brick paths along with the existing elevator in the main house allows all guests to fully experience the tour and other museums on the site.”
Smith added that the tree work that was included as part of the grant will ensure the safety and security of visitors while also improving the health and longevity of the trees.
And while the plantation’s business suffered greatly during the pandemic, Smith said it is now seeing around 50-60% of its pre-COVID number of visitors.
“We still have a long way to go, but we’re hoping that once international travel opens up we can get back to normal,” he said. “That’s the hope.”
The addition of a café in the gift shop, as well as the return of the site’s annual fall festival, are both on the horizon. Plans are to open the Indigo Café by November, just in time for the festival.
“We’re going to be serving panini sandwiches, coffee, pastries, gumbo and other things,” Smith said. “That’s something to look forward to. We’ll be adding a deck off to the side of the gift shop that will have outdoor seating outside the live oaks. You’ll be able to see the plantation house.”