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Narcisse Prud'homme
(Beau Fort) Plantation

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[photo]
Narcisse Prud'homme Plantation or Beau Fort
Photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

The Narcisse Prud’homme Plantation, or Beau Fort as it is better known, is an early Creole-influenced residence built sometime between 1790 and 1821 by Louis Barthelemy Rachal. It is one of the oldest plantations along Cane River Lake and has had several owners. The plantation was known as the Narcisse Prudhomme Plantation for nearly a century from 1830 (shortly after it’s construction) to 1925. The plantation acquired the name “Beau Fort” due to a legend that the land it occupies was once the site of an early French fort. This legend has not been corroborated by any documentary or archaeological evidence. Beau Fort’s architecture reflects the region’s French Creole history. Although the plantation is not a pure example of the French Creole style, it does exhibit important features including a side gabled roof, interior chimneys and a front gallery.

[photo] Narcisse Prud'homme Plantation or Beau Fort
Photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

Beau Fort was constructed with a heavy timber frame infilled with the traditional Creole building material bousillage (a mixture of mud, Spanish moss and deer hair). One notable aspect of Beau Fort is its strangers’ room—a small bedroom on the front or back gallery that is not connected to the interior of the house. Such rooms were common along Cane River. They allowed plantation owners to offer lodging to frequent travelers of the area without having to suffer the danger of opening their homes to thieves or murderers. Most strangers’ rooms have long since been opened up to the main house for added space, and Beau Fort’s room is one of the few intact examples remaining in the area.

The Narcisse Prud’homme Plantation (Beau Fort) Plantation is located on Hwy. 494, about ten miles south of Natchitoches. The plantation is privately owned and currently is not open for regular tours. The Narcisse Prud’homme Plantation (Beau Fort) has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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