Tuesday, 22 April, 2003

LSU Rural Life Museum

The LSU Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge sits on the 450-acre Burden Research Plantation.  It provides insight into the largely forgotten lifestyles and cultures of pre-industrial Louisiana.  The museum consists of a barn filled with displays of 19th century tools and other artifacts, and about two dozen buildings from all over the state:  a pioneer's cabin, a church, assorted barns and houses, a family cemetery (licensed and still in use), and about a dozen buildings arranged in a "working plantation" configuration with slave's quarters, overseer's house, sugar house, etc.  Plaques on the buildings explain some of the different ways that the buildings were constructed, and how some of them were used.

Adjacent to the Rural Life Museum are the Windrush Gardens and Burden Home—a 25-acre expanse of semiformal gardens designed and planted by Steele Burden, a renowned landscape architect.  The Gardens has winding paths and many different examples of plants representative of the 19th century plantation gardens.  However, it appears that the gardens haven't been well maintained.  Some of the more formal areas are quite nice if a bit overgrown, but much of the 25 acres has obviously been neglected for quite some time.  Even so, there were some beautiful southern magnolia trees, crepe myrtles, and numerous other plants that Debra could identify.  Walking around the Gardens was a pleasant way to spend the morning.

On the way out, we stopped by the Burden Rose Garden, which has an impressive collection of different rose varieties—hundreds of plants—all of which were in bloom.  Unfortunately, none of the pictures that I got do the garden justice.  It was quite beautiful.