The Barrow family built Highland Plantation in antebellum St. Francisville, Louisiana.
William Barrow Jr. and his wife, Pheraby Hilliard, along with family members and slaves, moved to West Feliciana from North Carolina around 1800. The Barrow family emerged as one of the largest landholding families in the antebellum South as well as in West Feliciana, dominating its economic and social life. Barrow prospered quickly: In 1808 he owned 150 slaves; at his death in 1823, he owned six plantations, 348 slaves, and an extensive library. He also played a major role in the West Florida rebellion of 1810, serving as one of the five members of the provisional government.
Highland (known as Locust Grove until the 1840s) was the first house built by members of the Barrow family. Similar to houses in North Carolina rather than Louisiana, Highland was significant for introducing Anglo building traditions to West Feliciana. The two-story wooden house has a central hall, with one room on each side on both floors, a rear extension of three rooms, end chimneys, and a two-story gallery. The front gallery was originally only one story tall but was replaced in the 1870s by a two-story gallery, and the roof was extended to cover it. The finely detailed woodwork includes Greek motifs around the entrance door and mantels. In the 1830s Barrow’s son, Bennet Hilliard Barrow, who had inherited the property in 1823, enclosed the back gallery and added an alley of oaks, a racetrack, a sugarhouse, a dance hall for the slaves, a hospital, and a jail. He also converted the crop from cotton to sugarcane. Near the house is the family cemetery with a tomb dating from 1803.
Adapted from Karen Kingsley’s Buildings of Louisiana, part of the Buildings of the United States series commissioned by the Society of Architectural Historians (www.sah.org) and published by Oxford University Press.