WAKEFIELD – Edgewood Plantation is a mirror into life in the Felicianas in the late 19th century.
"The rule at Edgewood has always been, what was here, stays here," said Jan Pourciau, whose husband's great-grandparents Emily Richardson and James Mentor Barrow built Edgewood near Wakefield in 1890.
Their marriage that same year connected two West Feliciana plantation families — the Richardsons, of Holly Grove, and the Barrows, of Highland.
"When they married, the Richardsons gave the young couple a piece of Holly Grove. It has been in the family ever since," said Jan Pourciau, who married the Barrows' great-grandson Nolen Pourciau in 1983.
The couple moved from Baton Rouge to Edgewood in 2015 to care for his father, Emile Barrow Pourciau, after the death of his mother, Shirley Pourciau.
The 200 acres on which the home sits is a botanic treasure of live oaks, camellias, azaleas, rare boxwoods and hundreds of different varieties of bulbs — narcissus, spider lilies, irises and daffodils — that poke through the grass all during the year.
"The bulbs are always a surprise when they come up," Jan Pourciau said.
The original Edgewood had only a central foyer with one room on each side, but over the generations, the home has been expanded with the addition of a living room across the back of the house, a kitchen and bedrooms. One bedroom was moved completely intact from the old house at Holly Grove and attached to the back side of Edgewood. The house also has a large attic and four fireplaces.
The front door and other doors and windows in the original part of the home are from an early West Feliciana courthouse, Jan Pourciau said.
"It was torn down because it had been damaged by Union gunfire from boats in the Mississippi River during the Civil War," she explained.
The home is filled with family treasures, including two fine antique beds, china, paintings, a needlepoint firescreen and old photographs.
James Mentor Barrow's desk is in the foyer, still containing his plantation ledgers, postcards and correspondence.
"We are living among 130 years of other people's stuff and our stuff," Jan Pourciau said. "We love it and wouldn't do anything differently."
The dining room, to the left of the foyer, has the original punkah, or had-operated fan, over the dining room table. It hangs next to an antler-laden chandelier made by Nolen Pourciau from a wagon wheel that belonged to his great-grandfather.
Every generation added to the yard, filling it with all varieties of plants including some that are no longer available.
Nolen Pourciau's father loved camellias and planted them everywhere.
"Some have been here for decades," Jan Pourciau said. "They didn't believe in pruning, so many are overgrown."
Lots of the camellias were grafted from bushes that belonged to other members of the family. After she moved to Edgewood, Jan Pourciau attempted to map the camellia bushes in the yard.
"I stopped at 130," she said.
One of the great treasures is a staghorn fern, nicknamed Cousin Stella by family members. It was passed on to the Pourciaus by Nolan Pourciau's aunt, who got it when the fern was already quite old.
"It's a family heirloom entrusted to our care," Jan Pourciau said.
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