Evergreen, the most complete plantation complex along the Old River Road, is an amazing spectacle. Oak archways, slave quarters, sugarcane fields, spanish moss highlight the grounds of this privately owned plantation.
Evergreen, completely remodeled from its original French Creole design in 1832, features stuccoed-brick Doric columns that extend from the ground to the roof on the wide double galleries. Originally, the residence of Michel Pierre Becnel and his wife Desiree Brou, the “big house” also boasts two remarkable fanlight doorways at the head and foot of he winding double stairway servicing the galleries.
Evergreen is significant not only because of the existence of its main building along River Road, but also because of the remains of the plantation complex. With two pigeonniers (structures used by upper-class French for housing pigeons), two garconieries (dwellings for a family’s young boys), a privy, a kitchen, a guesthouse, an overseer’s house, and a double row of 22 tslave cabins, Evergreen is unique. It is one of only a handful of plantations that evoke what major plantations resembled in the antebellum period of America’s history. Usually only the main house of the planter’s family have endured the ravages of time.
Over the decades, the most serious change to Evergreen as a plantation complex has been the extensive fabric replacement evident in the slave quarters. Some noteworthy original features, such as chimneys, shutters, and doors remain, but nearly 150 years of patching, repairs, and reconstruction have caused alterations. It is surprising that these quarters, retaining their original appearance and double row configuration, have survived at all. There is very little documentation on these buildings, although it is clear that they are indeed antebellum. The 1860 census lists Lezin Becnel and his brother, the then owners of the plantation, as having 103 slaves in 48 dwellings. The only known historic map of the plantation is the Mississippi River Commission map of 1876, which shows 22 cabins in the same configuration and location.