Missy Robertson talks to BayouLife Magazine about the renovation and opening of Logtown Plantation as an event venue and bed and breakfast.
ARTICLE BY LARONE RICHARDSON
PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY BY LORI MICHELLE PHOTOGRAPHY
INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN BEASLEY
Resident celebrities Missy and Jase Robertson recently announced the grand opening of Logtown Plantation, northeast Louisiana’s newest (yet oldest) event venue and bed & breakfast. This elegant estate, central to the history of our Ouachita Valley, has been lovingly renovated by the Robertsons to accommodate any type of special event or celebration. Whether it be an unforgettable wedding, reception, birthday or anniversary, a family or class reunion, formal dinner, fundraiser, corporate function or community concert, the event possibilities are endless.
Since this is BayouLife’s annual Wedding Issue, our central focus here will be the plantation’s perfect suitability not only as a wedding venue, but all things associated with the happy event. What better place to host the ultimate bridal shower or bridesmaids’ brunch? Do you envision a late afternoon wedding on the lawn, with a celebration in the outdoor reception hall? Imagine the fabulous surroundings the house would provide for your wedding portrait, announcement party, or rehearsal dinner. There’s even a honeymoon cottage on-site.
Maybe you just need a tiny corner of a garden or the formal parlor for a small, intimate ceremony. Whatever your needs, whatever the size of your event, Missy has tried to think of everything to make the bride and groom’s special day absolutely perfect. In fact, it was an impending wedding that eventually led Missy to this beautiful piece of Louisiana history.
“A few years ago,” Missy begins, “one of my friends asked me to help her find a barn to rent for her daughter’s wedding. We couldn’t find a thing. She was so disappointed.” That fruitless endeavor planted a seed in Missy’s mind…find a piece of property where she and Jase could build a barn to host weddings and other occasions.
Then in duck season of 2017, Missy says she looked down at her iPad and “saw this dot on Zillow.” Intrigued with its location right on the Ouachita River, she made an appointment to view the property and asked Jase if he would like to accompany her. “He was looking for some new hunting property at the time. It was love at first sight,” she says, recalling their reaction to the 11-acre estate. “Jase fell in love with the property, and I fell in love with the house and its history.”
When the realtor opened the front door to the house, Jase headed instead towards the back of the property. Not even stopping to look at the house, he paused just long enough to announce over his shoulder, “We want it!” When he realized that his parents’ land was just a five-minute boat ride away on the other side of the river, and their home was just a 20-minute boat ride, he was really over the moon. “I wish I had thought to video his reaction,” laughs Missy. “Jase actually broke into a happy dance!”
The beloved property was promptly secured and the rest, as they say, is history. But, oh what a history it is…
AN INTRIGUING PAST
The year was 1783, and Louisiana, largely still wild and unsettled, was yet to become a state of the young country called the United States of America. A former French-settled territory, the area known as Louisiana belonged to Spain at the time. Spanish Governor Esteban (Estevan) Rodriguez Miro commissioned French-born Jean Baptiste Filhiol to establish a new Spanish outpost, Poste d’Ouachita, northward along the wilderness of the Ouachita River. Filhiol (the Spanish called him Don Juan Filhiol) would later build a fort in the area for protection against Indians, naming it Fort Miro in honor of his commandant.
In 1785, Filhiol was awarded an enormous land grant from Governor Miro, 235 acres of which would come to comprise the original Logtown Plantation, established in 1798. Around 1820, Fort Miro’s name was changed to Monroe, either after the first steamboat to reach it via the Ouachita River, or in honor of U.S. President James Monroe; both explanations have been recorded. Jean Baptiste Filhiol would come to be celebrated as the father of Monroe.
In 1847, Filhiol’s grandson and namesake, Jean Baptiste Filhiol (1815 – 1885) and his wife, Nancy St. Clair Bellew Filhiol (1820 -1887) built a two-room cottage from cypress trees cut and sawn onsite. Bricks for the piers and chimneys were similarly made onsite. Fellow Frenchman and cabinetmaker H. Layoux, directed the construction of the cottage in the Greek Revival style. The doors, fan windows and window sashes, all made by hand years before the Civil War, survive to this day.
Through the years, the home gradually expanded to meet the growing family’s needs. In the 1880s, Roland M. Filhiol (1848 – 1906) added a bedroom and bathroom – still in use today – incorporating the use of stained glass and innovative pocket windows.
Because of an increased possibility of housefires in those days, a home’s kitchen was often built away from the main house. Such was the case at Logtown Plantation, and Roland had the kitchen and dining room moved adjacent to the house, adding Victorian “steamboat gothic” millwork to the dining room’s ceiling. Original to the home, the dining room light fixture probably initially burned kerosene.
In 1910, another Filhiol descendent and namesake, John Baptist Filhiol (1876-1946), had the kitchen and dining room connected to the main house, bringing them under the same roof for the first time since 1847.
Amazingly, the home remained occupied continuously by the highly esteemed Filhiol family until 1999. Marie Adelle Filhiol (1908-1997), former principal of Logtown School, was the last Filhiol to live on the property. The house changed hands just twice more before being acquired by Missy and Jase.
Because the property has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, extreme care was taken with the restoration process. “We didn’t touch a thing until we had lived with the house for eight months,” recalls Missy. “We took the time to actually get to know this house like you get to know a person.”
Though she didn’t actually live in the house, she felt like she did. It was a painstakingly slow process. Missy spent countless hours walking through rooms, weighing reno options, and making sure the improvements, unless strictly cosmetic, would only affect areas that were not original to the home. In fact, in the oldest parts of the home, you may see where there used to be a wood-burning stove pipe that was covered and painted over in a restoration accomplished over a hundred years ago. Or you’ll notice a small, neat circle in the wall, evidence of an industrious, well-meaning soul long ago who used tin can lids to efficiently cover holes in the wall.
During renovation, original materials either found on site, or unusable in their current form, were routinely incorporated into the design whenever possible. For example, the gorgeous 10-foot long dining table adjacent to the kitchen was constructed with portions of the ceiling of the original 1847 barn.
“Our contractor, Jeremy Andrews, was amazing,” shares Missy. “Sometimes I’d find a photograph in a magazine to explain what I wanted, and Jeremy would work his magic from there.”
The result of this meticulous care, methodical planning and attention to detail is stunning. The visual impact is almost indescribable, and pictures don’t do it justice. Think Joanna Gaines meets Scarlett O’Hara…absolute southern perfection.
THE MAIN HOUSE BEDROOMS
Dressed in yellow wallpaper dappled with roses, the Camellia Room is so named because a garden of camellia bushes can be viewed through its tall, stately, multi-paned windows, original to the house. Two queen-size white iron beds make this a perfect second bedroom for a family. This area of the home was built in 1847, making this the oldest bedroom. Its ceilings were originally (and still) painted Robin’s Egg Blue, reportedly to keep evil spirits away, and they have only been repainted twice since. A half bath connects this room with the front parlor, and a full bath is located just a short distance away. Jase found a long-forgotten marble lavatory, with its original mirror intact, in the barn. True to their mission of salvaging as much as possible, the Robertsons used this exquisite find in the half bath, which may have been its home ages ago.
The Cypress Suite features a king-size poster bed complete with romantic, white bed hangings, and a twin daybed. The walls and bedding accents are a calming, restful spa blue. “I tried to use some of this blue in every room,” relates Missy, “to ensure a good visual flow.” The en suite was the first bathroom in the house, and it still has the original stained-glass transoms and pocket windows. With a nod to spa-like amenities, Missy added a custom walk-in shower, complete with multiple shower heads.
Looking directly onto the property’s centuries-old pecan orchard, the aptly named king-sized Pecan View Suite boasts a dressing area and en suite bath large enough to accommodate the bride, her mom and her bridesmaids as they prepare for the big event. (In fact, the use of this suite is included in your special day’s package price.) A gorgeous claw-foot tub, separate shower, multiple massive mirrors, perfect lighting, sumptuous fixtures and accessories…everything imaginable is provided to make for stress-free preparation and memorable pre-wedding photos. Missy’s thoughtful, personal touches are everywhere, and she has spared nothing to ensure everything was perfect. “See that vanity bench and fainting couch?” Missy asks, grinning. “They were my grandmother’s.”
How do you describe the perfect honeymoon getaway? Two words: Magnolia Cottage. Upon opening the door to this dreamy, detached hideaway, you stand momentarily transfixed, visually absorbing the sense of history and the timelessness of simple elegance. Whitewashed shiplap walls and gleaming hardwood floors beckon. An elegant chandelier hangs from the original ancient beadboard ceiling, looking down on a massive iron king bed dressed in luxurious grey and white. Missy designed the adjoining double-vanity bathroom around the home’s original claw foot tub, circa 1880, and the custom walk-in shower is outfitted with large rain heads. The cottage also thoughtfully offers a fridge, microwave and coffee pot. Will you ever want to leave? Probably not.
FULL HOUSE RENTAL
Depending on availability, renting the entire main house PLUS Magnolia Cottage is also and option. Doing so will save $100 per night over renting each room separately. The Full House Rental includes 4 bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms, with sleeping in beds for 11. You may also use the sofas and/or bring your personal air mattresses to accommodate up to 25 people overnight.
The large, brand new kitchen was designed with every modern convenience, including a 6-burner Thor stove with griddle. Enjoy the convenience of a beautifully appointed beverage center furnished with espresso machine, Keurig coffeemaker, regular drip coffee pot, wine cooler and ice machine. Two massive dining tables, one adjacent to the kitchen and one in the “gothic steamboat” dining room, plus the large kitchen island, offer seating for up to 25 people. The entire home can be your private getaway for the night, a weekend or an extended stay.
Encompassing 11 acres and situated along the banks of the Ouachita River, the property feels much further away than the actual 10-minute drive from Monroe proper. Absolute quiet, that exquisite, rare gift bestowed on us by secluded places, is broken only by the melody of birdsong. Gentle, welcome breezes sough through ancient branches, like a mother softly shushing her young. Occasionally, and especially on a still night, a train whistle and soft rumble of tracks can be heard far across the cornfields. Rather than disrupting the quiet, the sound actually enhances the rurality of Logtown Plantation, and to many, will elicit childhood remembrances of that lonesome, yet somehow comforting sound.
The white picket fence surrounding the “flower yard” originally graced the home of Jean Baptiste and Nancy Filhiol’s close friend, M. Avet, who resided on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans. When replacing his picket fence with a new iron one in the late 1800s, he recalled how much the Filhiols had admired it, so he had it shipped via boat to his dear friends in north Louisiana.
The grounds are replete with southern plants of every description. In their season, iris, gladiola, cannas, gardenia, jasmine, daylilies, daffodils, spider lilies, nandina, fern, stargazer lilies, ivy, roses, hydrangea, sweet bush and wildflowers nod and bob their heads like sleepy children. Peruvian Scilla grace the periphery of the birdbath, curtsying in the breeze, vying for attention. Family tradition holds that the original bulbs were a gift to the first Madame Filhiol from Don Juan’s cousin, the Compte de Grammont.
Four massive magnolia trees stand sentinel at each corner of the house, a profusion of snowy blossoms spilling perfume from their cradles of dark, waxy foliage. Ancient cypress, ageless in their beauty, stand alongside them, tall and proud.
OUTDOOR RECEPTION HALL BARN
Lent historic charm by the original barn just a stone’s throw away, the renovated Reception Hall Barn is the perfect outdoor space to host a southern celebration. Throw open the immense, custom-made, see-through barn doors and dance the night away on the new dance floor. Massive chandeliers lend their graceful elegance, and at night, hanging string lights sparkle like fireflies on a soft summer breeze.
Your caterer will love you. A caterer’s kitchen, complete with a generous three-bay stainless-steel sink, warming oven, cooler, stainless steel tables, commercial ice machine and freezer, is located conveniently nearby on the ground floor of the caretaker’s cottage. Consistent with Missy’s and Jase’s attention to detail, the grounds are misted regularly to ensure no unwanted winged guests can spoil your big day.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
An estate this expansive requires constant hands-on attention, ably supplied by Roger and Carmen Andrews who live in the newly constructed caretaker’s cottage above the garage. “These two are an absolute God-send!” says Missy of the property’s on-site caretakers. “They keep the house and property in top condition, and even more importantly, they are awesome hosts.”
If you have any questions about this one-of-a-kind venue, scheduling an event or B&B stay, or planning your wedding, call Carmen at 318-537-3717 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to visit the Logtown Plantation Facebook page and its website, www.logtownplantation.com. Here you’ll find complete booking information, amazing photos, and even more of the plantation’s fascinating history. Click the “contract here” button at the bottom of the site’s “Weddings” page to access the Wedding Venue Rental Agreement that contains each party’s contractual obligations, included amenities, and fees.
On the website’s “Contact Us” page is a list of local wedding vendors personally recommended by Missy. In addition, this page offers contact and fee information for Logtown Plantation’s personal wedding coordinator, should you need one.
“We’ve tried to think of everything,” concludes Missy. “Jase and I realized from the beginning that this is a special place, an integral part of Louisiana’s history, of this region’s history. We’re so glad to be able to share it with the people in our community.”
You’ll be glad, too. Inherently beautiful and exquisitely romantic, what better place to begin your very own “happily ever after.”