What might be the oldest home in Louisiana is now available in St. Gabriel, just a short drive down Nicholson Drive from LSU. The tall plantation-style home is a timber-framed, three-story, Bousillage-walled home believed to have been built for a Spanish commandant circa 1773.
The home has been moved at least twice during the last two centuries, finally coming to rest on a two-acre parcel of land on River Road in St. Gabriel, officially 3425 Highway 75, right along the Mississippi River levee. The owners have old photos showing the home in two other locations, both with different roofing materials. No one is sure exactly where or when the home was originally built.
Numerous historians over the years have examined the residence, which has come to be known as “Home Place,” according to Katherine Coghlan, the Burns & Co. agent marketing the home. “They believe this is the oldest home in the Mississippi River Valley,” she said, adding the chandeliers pre-date electric lights.
The current owners bought the home in 2003, then took more than a year to make sure all the plumbing, electrical and HVAC was updated, safe and modern. Today, the home is fairly new inside, with very old bones.
The home has double Bousillage walls, which is a French term that describes using a mixture of mud and moss to build the walls of a timber home. Most of the interior walls of the home are covered with cypress planks, but the owners decided during renovation to leave a section of Bousillage wall in the kitchen uncovered so guests could see the unique construction.
Because the third floor of the home remains unfinished, visitors can get clues about how the home was built. Mortise and tenon joints are still visible, as are open saw cuts and Roman numerals etched into the timbers. The timbers would be marked with a roman numeral down on the ground and then would be hoisted up to be assembled like a puzzle, the current owner said. Exposed beams are in nearly every room of the house. Most interior doors are original cypress.
The home is floored in brick pavers in some areas, but mostly with very old cypress planks. These amazing wood floors have narrow planks on the lower floors of the home, with wider boards on the second and third floors. “When Home Place would have been built, it took considerable time and money to make small boards,” the owner explained. Homeowners put the smaller boards in more prominent areas. The upper floors have boards that very from 10 to 16 inches, with narrow planks on the first floor. The floors are exquisitely finished and possibly the nicest I’ve seen…certainly the oldest.
The driveway from River Road is directly aimed at he front elevation of the home, which shows a wide set of stairs leading to the second floor. The first floor contains the updated kitchen, living room, formal dining room, laundry and a guest suite with a full bath. The travertine kitchen has a five-burner Kenmore dual-fuel range, a double farm sink and painted cabinetry. The living room and formal dining room share a big room with brick pavers on the first floor, right inside the entry behind the wide entry stairs.
The master suite and three other bedrooms plus a home office are on the second floor at the top of the entry stairs. The master suite has access to a veranda, one of the home’s three fireplaces and beautiful original cypress flooring. The master bath has a 6-foot whirlpool tub.
The unfinished third floor has 1,000 square feet that are not counted in the home’s living area. The whole third story is floored in heavy cypress planks, making this one of the most interesting homes I’ve visited in South Louisiana.
About this Home
3425 Highway 75, St. Gabriel
190 x 428 x 228 x 438 feet (2 acres)
3,104 (not counting the 3rd floor)
Burns & Co. Realtors