An intriguing variation on the standard plantation style, with galleries resembling the decks of a ship, the San Francisco Plantation seems to have inspired a new architectural term: "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, and 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.