Keith Marshall had just graduated from St. Martin’s when his mother, Naomi, bought Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville. The year was 1964, and the Marshall family has owned and cared for the National Historic Landmark ever since.
Yet that era will end next month when the ownership of the mansion, its collection of fine antique furniture, and its grounds are transferred to someone new.
“There is a phrase in Latin that translates into ‘a wanted burden,’” said Marshall. “In so many ways, that’s what Madewood has been to me: A tremendous joy but at the same time an enormous responsibility. As soon as we sign the act of sale, there will be 19 fewer toilets that I need to keep in functioning condition.”
A three-day long tag sale (Friday, Feb. 16 – Sunday, Feb 18) is planned to dispose of 50 years of items accumulated by the Marshalls that are not included in the sale. Times are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday.
“We’re selling it furnished but there are thousands of personal items that we didn’t know what to do with other than to sell: Things from my mother’s house, things from (my wife) Millie’s mother house — ball gowns, china, cypress doors — and at least 8 reproduction Georgian ladles,” he joked. “There is even a red fox jacket that Millie was wearing when we were in Denali to look at wildlife in their native habitats. The first we saw was a red mother fox and her babies, so Millie immediately tore off the jacket, turned it inside out and stuffed it under her seat.”
Built for Colonel Thomas Pugh in 1846, Madewood was designed by architect Henry Howard and is considered one of the finest Greek Revival plantation houses in the nation. Pugh’s sugarcane planation encompassed 10,000 acres, but he did not get to enjoy his glorious home for long; he died of yellow fever in 1852.
When the Marshalls purchased the property for $70,000 in the mid-1960s, it required total restoration. The late Sam Wilson, preservation architect, worked on the project. By 1978, work was complete, and the following year, the Marshall family launched the Madewood Arts Festival (it continued until 1983). Most recently, the house hosted Music at Madewood from 2006 to 2009.
The decision to sell was easier for Marshall than one might think, given that it has been part of his life for so long.
“I turned 70 recently,” said Marshall. “And as much as I have enjoyed meeting people from around the world who came to Madewood to stay at the B&B, now I will have the freedom to visit them in their own countries.”
Lagniappe Estate Sales in Thibodaux is handling the sale on site at Madewood, located at 4250 Hwy 308, Napoleonville. For more information, call (337) 578-9463, and go to www.estatesales.net/LA/Napoleonville/70390/1783545.