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Bocage Plantation

Courtesy of Bocage Plantation

Bringier Blue Bedroom in Bocage Plantation
Courtesy of Bocage Plantation

Resting on some 100 acres on the east bank of the Mississippi River, Bocage Plantation is one of the jewels of the River Road plantations between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  The plantation house is a grand Greek Revival mansion.

Constructed in 1801, the original mansion was a wedding gift from St. James Parish planter Marius Pons Bringier to his eldest daughter, Francoise “Fanny” Bringier and her husband Christophe Colomb, a native of Paris, France, who claimed to be a descendant of Christopher Columbus. For many years, the belief was that the current house was the result of a full remodeling of the original 1801 building that took place around 1837. However, a recent renovation of the home, which in some places involved the removal of exterior stucco and interior plaster, revealed no hint of the remodeling of an earlier building.  During the process, the bases of four symmetrically placed chimneys surrounded by extensive charred remains and fragments of brick and broken glass were discovered buried about 40 feet behind the house. Experts involved in the recent renovation believe that these remains are of the original 1801 home and that the current building is a replacement for the one that burned.

Bocage was obviously designed by an architect well skilled in the Greek Revival idiom.  Although no documentary evidence exists to confirm the designer’s identity, circumstantial evidence points to renowned architect James H. Dakin.  A New York native, Dakin relocated to Louisiana in 1835 and came under the Bringier family’s employ.  He would later design Louisiana’s fine Gothic Revival Old State Capitol (1847-1849) in Baton Rouge.

Bocage’s façade features square columns, an impressive entablature with a denticulated cornice, a pediment shaped parapet (which is unusual for Louisiana) and a double gallery. 
Inside, the home has a Creole floor plan whose primary living space, called a premier etage, is located on the second floor.  Interior rooms opening into each other without hallways and a rear cabinet-loggia range make up the plan.  The grander rooms across the front open onto the upper gallery that overlooks the Mississippi River levee and provides a panoramic view of the 100-acre plantation.  However, premier etage’s most significant decorative feature is a splendid anthemion and patera door surround which encases a second-floor set of pocket doors. The design for this feature is taken directly from Plate 26 of Minard Lafever's 1835 builders' pattern book, Beauties of Modern Architecture, to which Dakin apparently contributed drawings. 

Dr. Marion Rundell, a native of Louisiana, has returned the mansion to its original splendor. “The plantation has never been open for public tours,” he said. “When I purchased Bocage in 2008 my goal was to open it for the public to enjoy. It is a unique property that maintains an important role in the history of the great plantation houses of the United States. Now you can visit it and see why it holds such an important historical role.”

Now a bed and breakfast, the stately mansion is open for tours and group functions. The mansion is furnished with fine antiques, paintings, and accessories.

Located about 47 miles from New Orleans or 20 minutes from Baton Rouge, LA, Bocage is on the East Bank of the Great River Road, just a short distance from Interstate-10 (turn off I-10 at Highway 22). Tours are available by appointment Wednesday through Sunday, 12:00pm – 5:00pm. Admission is $20.00 per person, with no charge for children under 12. Group discounts are available. To schedule a tour, book a bed and breakfast stay, or for details on group events, call 225-588-8000 or visit the plantation's website for further information.

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