St. Joseph Plantation

3535 Louisiana Highway 18, Vacherie, St. James Parish, Louisiana

Built in 1830, for the Scioneaux family. In 1846, it was acquired by Francois-Gabriel "Valcour" Aime (1798-1867) and given as a wedding present to his second daughter, Joséphine Aime (1821-1894), and her husband, Alexis Ferry II (1815-1884). It was here in 1838 that one of the country's most celebrated architects was born: Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886), father of "Richardsonian Romanesque". St. Joseph is located on the famed River Road on the west bank of the Mississippi River on the Acadian Coast. It is adjacent to Oak Alley Plantation, built by Josephine's uncle, and in 1907 it was merged with what had been her sister's home, Felicity Plantation....

This house is best associated with...

Francois-Gabriel Aime III

"Valcour" Aime, of Oak Alley Plantation, St. James Parish, Louisiana


Josephine Aime

Mrs Joséphine (Aime) Ferry


The Scioneaux family built the simple, 10-room, two-story Creole house, as seen today. It was originally raised up on the lower 8-foot pillars to protect it from flooding.

Birthplace of the Architect H.H. Richardson

By 1838, it had either been leased or sold to William Priestley (1771-1838) and it was in that year that Priestley's famous grandson, H.H Richardson (1838-1886), "one of the recognized trinity of American Architecture" was born here. Priestley was a son of the famous chemist (Joseph Priestley), who discovered oxygen. Two years later (1840) the plantation was sold to a former surgeon at the court of Emperor Napoleon, Dr. Cazamine Mericq. He is remembered visiting the plantations around and about in his horse-drawn buggy where he tended to the wealthy families just as well as he did to their slaves.

The family of Valcour Aime

In 1846, "Valcour" Aimer purchased the plantation. He was given that nickname in childhood by his nurse having been orphaned by the age of nine and brought up in the household of his maternal grandfather, Michel Fortier II (1750-1819). On reaching adulthood, Valcour became heir to a fortune of $100,000 which he used to buy plantations in St. James and then pioneered the process of sugar refining in Louisiana. In his day, Valcour Aime became the world's leading sugar producer and with an abundance of wealth at his fingertips he was well-known for his hospitality and generosity.

Joséphine was the second daughter of Valcour Aime and at the time of her marriage to Alexis Ferry II (1815-1884), her father was reckoned to be the wealthiest man in the South. According to her husband's diary, she received $110,000 in gifts from her father including the use of the St. Joseph Plantation. The Ferrys made several changes to the house, adding four rooms and enclosing the ground floor to create a basement.

The Waguespecks & St. Joseph Today

Similarly to the fate of the neighboring Felicity Plantation, the Ferrys lost title to St. Joseph most probably during or just after the Civil War and in 1873 it was sold at the Sheriff's auction to Joseph Waguespack, a local sugar planter. In 1901, Waguespeck purchased the Felicity Plantation too and merged them into one 2,500-acre plantation, forming the St. Joseph Planting & Manufacturing Company.

Between Felicity and St. Joseph, aside from the two picturesque mansions, they contain a great many outbuildings that are original to the plantations: a detached kitchen, slaves quarters, blacksmith's shop, barns, a schoolhouse and carpenters shed. These all combine to make the plantation as a whole a popular filming location. In 2005, the house at St. Joseph was restored by members of the Simon and Waguespack families - who still run the working plantation today. Each room is filled with period antique furniture that includes a square grand piano in the main hall and an old desk with medical instruments and a skeleton. Today, the 12,000 square foot plantation house is open for tours. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 01/03/2019 and last updated on 16/07/2020.
Main Image Courtesy of Michael McCarthy, CC, Flickr; Louisiana History (1969), Louisiana Historical Society; Southern Splendor: Saving Architectural Treasures of the Old South (2018), by Marc R. Matrana, Robin S. Lattimore & Michael W. Kitchens; Bayou Plantation Country Cookbook, by Anne Butler; Family Project Restores Plantation, by Mark Hunter in Houma Today (2005).


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