Ethel — Members of the extended Lane family haven’t actually lived at Lane Plantation for almost 90 years, but their roots are firmly planted on the tract of land their great-great-great-grandfather purchased in East Feliciana Parish in 1849.
Generations of the family lived in the main house until 1927 and raised cotton there until the 1940s. Now owned by a family partnership — Mercedes Plauché Nieset and Mary Plauché McNulty, both of Lake Charles, and their brother, Andrew “Andy” Lane Plauché Jr., of New Orleans — the plantation is a family retreat used as a getaway for celebrations, holidays and long, relaxing weekends.
“This place was the meeting spot,” said Andy Plauché. “Half the family was LSU, half was Tulane. There have been plenty of football parties here.”
Those attending the 51st annual Jackson Assembly Antiques and Art Show and Sale on April 1-3 can tour the Louisiana treasure, this year’s featured home, and visit with members of the family who have preserved it for more than a century and a half.
Built in a traditional Carolina style of architecture, the original home had four rooms — a dining room and living room downstairs and two bedrooms, one large and one small, upstairs. The large front gallery is original to the home. A small back porch was later converted to a third bedroom and the first interior bathroom. In 1969, the parents of the current owners, the late Andrew Lane Plauché and Althea Livaudais Plauché, added a kitchen wing and a master bedroom wing during a major restoration of the home.
Extremely well preserved, the home has its original longleaf pine floors and walls and its original mantels.
“It faces due north, one mile from a stop on the Clinton & Port Hudson Railroad, the second oldest railroad in the United States,” Andy Plauché said.
The main house, originally called Weston Place, was built by Malachi Weston, who moved to Louisiana from South Carolina in the early 1800s.
Experts who’ve studied the saw and planing marks on the wood walls and roof beams estimate that construction could have taken place as early as 1810.
The first Lane family member, William Allen Lane, a native of Maine, purchased the property in 1849. A classmate of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne at Bowdoin College in Maine, Lane came to the area in 1825 to teach at the College of Louisiana in Jackson.
He married Mary Catherine Tyson, of Woodville, Mississippi. Their two sons, James Tyson Lane and William Allen Lane Jr., were educated at Yale but returned to Louisiana to fight for the South in the Civil War.
“They weren’t bothered by the fact that they might have to shoot a Union man, but they were bothered by the fact that they would have to shoot another Yale man,” Andy Plauché said with a laugh.
After the war, the two sons lost interest in the plantation. One moved to Tallulah, where he opened a law practice; the other moved to Fort Worth, Texas, to work in a business.
“They gave up their interest to four old-maid sisters,” Plauché said.
After the last sister died, the property went to nieces and nephews in Fort Worth and Tallulah — the Texas Lanes and the Louisiana Lanes.
After World War II, the two branches divided the property with the Louisiana Lanes taking 400 acres and the main house, and the Texas Lanes taking 1,200 acres.
The home has several original pieces of furniture, including four-poster beds upstairs, a pie safe in the dining room and a small desk chair in the living room.
Among the family treasures are James Tyson Lane’s Yale graduation image and the wooden leg he used after his leg was shot off in the Battle of Murphreesboro in 1863, William Allen Lane’s diploma from Bowdoin College and his amnesty oath to the United States after the Civil War, along with numerous family portraits.
As the number of Lane descendants increased, the current owners converted several out buildings to guest houses. These include the original kitchen; the old barn, which was moved 60 feet west and restored; and Redwood Cottage, constructed in 2004 to make room for grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The spacious property is planted with a variety of trees and shrubs around a tennis court, which was added in the early 1970s, a pond dug in the 1950s and a cemetery containing the graves of the parents of the current owners.