Chateau Chic: Louisiana Landmark

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August 31, 2017
Hello Gorjess
August 31, 2017

Renowned for its Greek Revival styling, the craftsmanship and distinctive characteristics of Orange Grove Plantation earned a designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1840, along the bank of Bayou Black, the estate currently encompasses a 4.5-acre tract of land surrounded by giant moss-draped oak trees, one of them dating over 400 years old. Enclosed by a white picket fence, a formal garden graces the front of the home and resembles an 18th-century Louisiana garden with pigeonnieres in both front corners.

The opportunity to purchase the estate six years ago was the second time the home owner, Damon Baldone, tried to acquire the property. “Over 20 years ago, myself and a buddy, Glen Fakier, wanted to buy it and turn it into a bed and breakfast. We were young and just didn’t have the money, but we had the dream,” Damon recalls. “When I had the opportunity to purchase the property this time, it was sign from my friend.” While Orange Grove is Damon’s private residence, he does rent the two cottages that flank the main house to tourists looking for a retreat upon visiting Bayou Country.

Over the years, the once pristine property had become dilapidated and changed hands several times. During the 1980s, under the ownership of Christopher and Monique Cenac, Orange Grove Plantation underwent an extensive renovation. Enlisting the assistance of a restoration consultant, the home and property were immaculately restored with historical accuracy. Original materials were saved when they could be and when they could not, salvaged materials were used that were fitting of nineteenth century craftsmanship.

It’s briquette-entere-poteau (brick between posts) construction is still intact, and the floors and ceilings are original with a few exceptions. Another unique element that has been preserved in the historic home are the “faux bois” (false wood) treatments to doors, moldings and mantles. During the 1800s, this treatment was painted onto cypress to make it appear as if it were white oak.

The kitchen features open beam work with Norman truss construction and an authentic cooking fireplace with a bread oven. This fireplace, along with others throughout the home, were carefully repaired by hand with oyster-shell mortar that was hand mixed to resemble the original mud mortar.

The addition of an outdoor kitchen and pavilion next to the pool are a favorite spot for Damon to relax with friends and family. A designed boiling area for seafood was a must for this Houma native. Also, an avid sports fan, the homeowner reclaimed one of the barns. Downstairs, large doors roll open so the spacious property can be enjoyed while playing pool or watching a big game and upstairs, a movie theatre complete with a candy bar is a delightful surprise.

Brian Waitz