The Kenilworth Plantation Home

As you drive along Bayou Road inSt. Bernard Parish, you’re sure to notice a stately French Creole plantation home framed by towering trees. This is the Kenilworth Plantation House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the few houses designed with this style to remain.

The Origins of the Plantation House

A sign in the front of the property states the house was built in 1759 even though the register has it at 1820. There is some doubt as to who built the home with some believing it was Vincent Rillieux and Jean Chauveau. Rillieux was an engineer, which makes the story plausible that he built the home and lived in it for a few years. Reillieux was an inventor and he served in the militia where he was part of the Battle of New Orleans.

Others say that Pierre Antoine Bienvenue built the house as a fortress as well as a place to live. He came to the state in 1725 from where he had been living in Quebec. He soon became one of the most influential men in the area. He also became one of the wealthiest.

The first undisputed owners were the Bienvenue family who lived in the home for around 40 years, starting in 1831. The home changed hands many times, and in the 1980s, it belonged to Dr. Acosta, a dentist in Chalmette. The home had significant damage in 2005 when the levee failed, but it was restored to its original beauty. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, and it has been a filming location for the movie Stay Alive.

Unique Design

The Kenilworth Plantation House is unique in many ways. One of the most intriguing attributes of the architecture is that it was built using pegs rather than nails. Another interesting feature is that as a two-story home, the basement was raised. The main living area was on the second floor, which is unusual in any time period. Large colonnettes went around the entire house on both floors supporting the gallery. French doors led out from all entrances from the house into the gallery.

It’s easy to see how the home was deemed a fortress with sturdy cypress doors and walls that were an impressive 18 inches in thickness. Hinges and bolts were made of wrought iron. The second story wasn’t added until sometime in the early 1800s.

As with any house that has as long a history as Kenilworth, stories abound of it being haunted. One of the most popular stories is of a headless man and woman who climb the stairs each time there’s a full moon and wander through the rooms.

If you’re in the area or want to see something unique and with a local flavor, take time to drive out to 2931 Bayou Road in St. Bernard Parish to get a closer look at the magnificent home. Maintained in exceptional condition, this house offers a captivating look at the style and elegance of the early 19thcentury.

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