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San Francisco Plantation

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San Francisco Plantation Review

An intriguing variation on the standard plantation styles, with galleries resembling the decks of a ship, gave rise to the term for an architectural style, Steamboat Gothic. The house, completed in 1856, was once called St. Frusquin, a pun on a French slang term, sans fruscins, which means "without a penny in my pocket"—the condition its owner, Valsin Marmillion, found himself in after paying exorbitant construction costs. Valsin's father, Edmond Bozonier Marmillion, had begun the project. According to lore his design for the house was inspired by the steamboats he enjoyed watching along the Mississippi. Upon his father's death, Valsin and his German bride, Louise von Seybold, found themselves with a plantation on their hands. Unable to return to Germany, Louise brought German influence to south Louisiana instead. The result was an opulence rarely encountered in these parts: ceilings painted in trompe l'oeil, hand-painted toilets with primitive flushing systems, and cypress painstakingly rendered as marble and English oak. Tour guides impart the full fascinating story on the 45-minute tour through the main house. An authentic one-room schoolhouse and a slave cabin have been installed on the grounds, which you can tour at your leisure. Louisiana novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes used the site as the model for her novel Steamboat Gothic.

Updated: 04-10-2014

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