Nottoway celebrates 150th anniversary, new restoration

TRYVE BRACKIN, Post/South Editor
NEW LEASE ON LIFE ... Historic Nottoway Plantation recently reopened after nearly a year of restoration work. The antebellum plantation home sustained damage during Hurricane Gustav.

A special 150th anniversary of the building of Nottoway Plantation, near White Castle, as well as a celebration of recent restoration was held last Friday.

Invited guests attended special ceremonies on the front lawn of the largest remaining antebellum mansion in the south and later celebrated with champagne and hors’devoirs.

Special guests at the ceremonies were Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, State Representative Karen Gaudet-St. Germain, and Nottoway Board Member Peter Evans of Australia.

Courtney Zito-Elliott provided the welcome and history of Nottoway as the Master of Ceremonies, while Father Cleo Milano did the invocation and the Rev. Richard Rayburn, III provided the closing prayer.

The St. John the Baptist Church Gospel Choir of Bayou Goula provided the music, while choir member G. Jermarr Williams sang the National Anthem.

Nottoway General Manager Dale Huval spoke on the restoration of the mansion and grounds that he directed over recent months as well as the dedication of the employees to make Nottoway a special place to visit and enjoy.

Zito-Elliott provided the history of the plantation home, built by John Hampton Randolph and completed 150 years ago. She also spoke briefly about Mrs. Odessa Owen, who kept the mansion preserved as best she could before the first restoration was done in the 1980s.

Ourso recalled a humorous event concerning Nottoway when Mrs. Owen resided there alone. He said there once was a horseshoe driveway in front of the home. One night when he was doing reconnaissance as a sheriff’s deputy he used the driveway as a turnaround as he patrolled the river road. When he began his turn in the horseshoe his deputy’s vehicle was attacked and surrounded to his surprise by sixty dogs owned by Mrs. Owen.

Representative Gaudet-St. Germain also told the guests of her experiences at Nottoway, again involving Mrs. Owen. She took lessons in crocheting from Mrs. Owen as a girl.

Evans flew in from “Down Under” for the celebration as a representative of owner and Australian businessman Paul Ramsey, who decided to make major restoration and renovations to the mansion and grounds, as well as to add facilities in recent months. Evans presented special service awards to longtime employees of Nottoway.

The most recent addition to Nottoway is the Mansion Restaurant on the bottom floor of the home, which provides fine gourmet dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week. 

RIBBON CUTTING...General Manager Dale Huval, left, and Board Member Peter Evans, right, cut the ribbon symbolic of the 150th anniversary and restoration celebration of Nottoway Plantation home near White Castle last Friday. Nottoway is the largest remaining antebellum mansion in the south and has been restored a third time to function as a resort/retreat and reception center. Behind Huval and Evans are longtime employees who received service awards during the celebration ceremonies last week.