Pictures of Three Oaks at bottom of page
This site is dedicated to the memory of one of South's great plantation homes which was destroyed in 1966. While certainly not the largest of the Louisiana plantation homes, this Greek revival home stood elegantly overlooking the Mississippi River near New Orleans. Three Oaks had eight large rooms with 14-foot ceilings. A fireplace was in each room. The fireplaces along the interior middle of the home heated all rooms. When we opened all the large French doors in the Summer, a nice breeze from the river would flow through the house.
In the 1950s and early 60’s I would spend memorable afternoons at Three Oaks. I wouldn’t have known about this hidden treasure had my Dad not been Plant Engineer at the American Sugar Refinery (Domino Sugar) in Chalmette, Louisiana. The sugar refinery had bought Three Oaks plantation when they built the refinery. The only access to Three Oaks was through the refinery’s main gate which was manned 24-hours a day. If you didn’t know someone or work there, you couldn’t get in.
The plantation was named after three huge oak trees which where clustered to the left front side of the mansion as you stood in front facing the home. Something about this place intrigued me. I would dream what it would be like to live in the estate years ago or the challenge of repairing Three Oaks to live in today.
Dad would take us to Three Oaks on Saturdays and Sundays, on occasion. Those were magical days. He opened the house and we explored inside. We were warned against going out onto the balcony on the second floor. Dad was afraid my brother and sisters might fall through because of rotting wood. It was a beautiful place, but simple. The floor plan consisted of four large rooms downstairs and four large rooms upstairs. Three Oaks was a good place to think. In high school, I think I remember going there with friend Paul Cutright, and even by myself once.
If you look at the pictures, you can see that the home was surrounded by columns, but not exactly square. There were seven columns across the front and back and eight columns down the sides. Visiting later plantations, I rarely found a home like this one surrounded by columns on all sides. Of course, there are no bathroom facilities on property. The kitchen was in a separate building detached from the main house. Realistically, it would be near impossible to live in Three Oaks unless a small fortune was invested. And then it would still be drafty and inefficient.
Note: One of the columns in front of Three Oaks was damaged near the base by a cannonball in the Battle of New Orleans.
I had already been working in the radio business for two years when my Dad informed me that American Sugar had torn down Three Oaks. My Dad was fond of Three Oaks so I don’t think this was his decision to demolish a classic plantation home. Here is the way the demolition was noted on the Landmarks Society of Louisiana website: "The swift unpublicized demolition of Three Oaks Plantation House by the American Sugar Company led the Louisiana Landmarks Society to encourage parish protection against such actions. It implored St. Bernard Parish to save and maintain the de la Ronde oaks and create a park at the site. Urged the saving of Madame John's Legacy, Worked with a Baton Rouge group to save Magnolia Mound Plantation."
At the very least, American Sugar should have donated the home and land to the State of Louisiana to restore and preserve a landmark on the Mississippi River. Instead, all we have now of Three Oaks is a few pictures and treasured memories.
Thanks to John Bowes of Metairie, Louisiana, for this email below on the history of Three Oaks Plantation:
John Bowes. I am the second son of Alice Peyroux-Bowes-Harris-Collier. My grand Father was, Joseph A. Peyroux. He lived at, 6055 Milney Blvd. in LakeView from 1923 until 1996. He was seventh son of Delon Peyroux who was born on the plantation and was the son of Sylvan Peyroux. He built the plantation. He raised Sugar and was a wine importer, directly from France. The war between the States, as you know, was about States rights first, then slavery was added after 2 years, because it was not a popular war in the North. Records show the 1870 census, filled out by Sylvan himself, asked a new question other than the regular ones like, "How many people are in your household? How many can read?, etc." It asked, “Would you do commerce with the North?” In large block letters he wrote across the form, "NEVER!"
When I was very young I remember my grand father and his brother were asked by the Perez family if they could graze cattle on the plantation grounds. They were nice people so they were allowed to do it. After 5 years the Perez family declared squatters rights for the control of the land. This was illegal because you must live on the property for 5 years to declare these rights. I remember my mom telling how my grand father and his brother discussed how much money it would take to fight the court order. They felt the land was not worth much and they had no money to do any repairs to Three Oaks. They did not fight the Perez family. So the property was declared to belong to the Perez family. Shortly after, the courthouse burned with all of the old records. (Amazing how that works.) This was not the only property taken by the Perez family during these times.
Later, the Perez family sold the Three Oaks Property to the American Sugar (Domino Sugar) Refining Company of Chalmette who bulldozed the plantation down at midnight, one night in 1966, because they did not want to get involved in the restoration of Three Oaks Plantation Home.
Delon Peyroux and his family lived in the third house, on the lake side of St. Claude and Poland Avenues. Today this is by the St. Claude Industrial Canal Bridge. This house has since been torn down.
Both Sylvan and his brother fought in the French and Indian War. In those days soldiers were not paid. The ones that survived the war were given land grants in the new world. Namely Louisiana. There were actually 2 of these identical structures built in Louisiana by the two brothers. Three Oaks in Chalmette on the point of the Chalmette slip, and the other in Convent, La. Near the end of the, War Between The States, the Union Army ran across the plantation in Convent and liked it so much they took over it and made it their headquarters. Not long afterward the War ended. When the family tried to take their property back, the Union Army refused to leave and continued using it as their headquarters. To remove the Army from the property the owner donated it to the Catholic Church. The great division of Church and State prevailed. The Union Army was made to leave and the Plantation was torn down. The archdiocese constructed, St. Michael’s Church in Convent, Louisiana. This Church still stands today on the grounds of the Plantation Home. The corner stone tells of the donation from the Peyroux family.
These things I know as fact and the stories are my family history.
Here's an email from Armand Peyroux:
I am Armand J. Peyroux. I am the SON of Joseph A. Peyroux. When I saw this story come up on MY COMPUTER, I tried to get MY story to you, but for some unknown reason has FAILED to get to you for YOUR MISSPELLED NAME & was RETURNED TO ME. MY DADDY RELATED A STORY TO ME when I was a young boy that He could REMEMBER during one of the wars, about 1916 when the ENEMY was coming up the MISSISSIPPI RIVER, THEY had fired a CANNON BALL which struck one of THE COLONIAL COLUMNS, & BOUNCED into one of the BIG FIRE PLACES & disrupped the whole fire place!!HE SAID that he was old enough to REMEMBER THAT!!!! I also remembered it was NOT HIS BROTHER WHO CALLED!! It was my UNCLE JOHN's SON who called looking for papers on THE THREE OAKS!!!! MY GREAT GRANDPA SYLVIAN PEYROUX is the one who PLANTED the THREE ACORNS TOGETHER to grow THE THREE OAKS in front of THE PLANTATION!!!!! I JUST thougtht you could ENJOY that STORY!!!! I SURELY HOPE I CAN GET IT TO YOU!!!! THANKS!!!!
NOTE: If you have any other information or
knowledge of the home at all, please email me at
|Outside stairway to balcony behind Three Oaks|
|Artist James L Kendrick III reproduction of the home.|
|Click to enlarge Postcard|
Last Updated 7/26/06