Kent Plantation House State Historic Site
Located in the center of Louisiana, Kent Plantation House is a wonderful experience in touring, with plenty to see and do. Tour the big house and the dependencies,learn about herbs and early gardens, and visit the blacksmith's shop to find out why nails were so precious. In the fall, come to the Sugar House to make Louisiana Cane syrup.
Kent Plantation House, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is an authentic Creole plantation house built prior to the Louisiana Purchase. The house was built by Pierre Baillio II, whose family came from France. Pierre's father was an officer at Fort St. Jean Baptiste, in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Pierre received a land grant of 500 arpents (a French measurement roughly equal to an acre) from King Charles IV of Spain near the Poste des Rapides in 1795. Construction of the house was completed in 1800.
The house, originally only six rooms, is typical of Louisiana colonial construction. It is raised off the ground on brick pillars to protect it from the flood waters of Bayou Rapides. All of the materials used to build the house came from the land: the clay used for the brick pillars, cypress for its sills and beams, and mud, Spanish moss and animal hair for its bousillage walls.
In 1842 Robert C. Hynson purchased the house from Baillio heirs. Hynson had come to Louisiana from Kent County, Maryland and the house was named for that area. Greek Revival style was in vogue, and Mr. Hynson made several changes to the house to bring it up to date, including replacing the doors and windows on the front of the house, replacing the posts on the front gallery and adding the two square wings at either end of the front gallery. The house and all of the original land grant are now within the city limits of what is now Alexandria; the historic site is operated by the Friends of Kent Plantation House.
Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site (135 Riverfront Street, Pineville) - Located on Red River in downtown Pineville, the site includes a visitor center with exhibits on the Civil War Red River Campaign, an elevated boardwalk around the fort area, with an overlook near Bailey's Dam site, and an open field for Civil War re-enactments. Forts Randolph & Buhlow were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
Alexandria Zoological Park (3016 Masonic Drive, Alexandria) - Founded in 1926, the park encompasses 33 shady acres, and is home to more than 500 animals. The African Experience: Phase 1, which opened in 2003, and the award winning Louisiana Habitat, which opened in 1998, are two of the zoo's most spectacular exhibits.
Louisiana History Museum (503 Washington Street, Alexandria) - The museum houses one of the largest genealogical libraries in the state, along with over 50 displays of local historical objects from prehistoric time till now.
Arna Wendell Bontemps Museum (1327 3rd Street, Alexandria) - Dedicated to the life of a noted Black poet, author, anthologist and librarian, the museum highlights the life of Arna Bontemps and his writings of 20 books, plays, and anthologies; he also was considered the leading authority on the Harlem Renaissance.
Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum (409 F Street, Pineville) - The museum provides a look into local and national military history and serves as a reminder of the dedication on the part of men and women who served and continue to serve in out nation's armed forces.
Marksville State Historic Site (837 Martin Luther King Drive, Marksville) - The mounds at this site date from 300-700 A.D., and archaeological efforts provided many jobs during the Great Depression. Marksville State Historic Site was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1964.
Chicot State Park (3469 Chicot Park Road, Ville Platte) - The park covers 6,000 acres of rolling hills and includes a fish-rich 2,000-acre reservoir. Picnicking, swimming in the Olympic-sized pool, hiking, bicycling, and birding are popular activities. Also available are 200 improved campsites, backpacking camps, primitive group campsites, 27 vacation cabins, three lodges, nature/hiking/backpacking trails encircling the lake, playgrounds, and pavilions.
South Toledo Bend State Park (16 miles west of Anacoco, off LA Hwy. 191) - Set on the scenic bluffs of the southern end of the Toledo Bend Reservoir, the park offers cabins, campsites, a visitor center with meeting room facilities and a paved nature trail. A boat launch provides a route to some of the best fishing in the nation.
Hodges Gardens State Park (6 miles south of Florien on Hwy. 171) - Cabins and campsites offer overnight accommodations and day-use visitors will enjoy the nature trails and extensive picnic area. Water from the 225-acre lake is pumped through an extensive system of pools and waterfalls, adding to the beauty of the formal gardens.