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St. Francisville, Louisiana

OAKLEY PLANTATION / AUDUBON STATE HISTORIC SITE

Renovation

The house is owned by the Park System of the State of Louisiana and operated as a museum.  James Dodds has been the Architect for six restorations from 1984 through present- commissioned to bring the house back to the original 1820's condition.  John J. Audubon resided at Oakley Plantation while tutoring Miss Eliza Pirrie. In his spare time he drew and worked on his bird paintings.  Oakley Plantation is on the National Historic Register.  

Here is a summary of all our involvement in the Audubon Historic Site:

- 1984/85 -- Analysed the components of the building seeking ways to incorporate an HVAC system, while protecting the historical fabric of the structure.  The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system was carefully designed and concealed within the fabric of the building and the exterior grounds, using a closed loop water source heat pump system (two-5 ton units in the attic and eight-400 foot deep loop wells). The system was provided with no exposed supply or return ductwork. Each fireplace in the main structure was adapted for supply air, and one of the rear fireplaces was adapted for the return air with the ductwork running through the chimneys.  Re-circulated water was routed through the downspouts to hide the pipes and not damage the building skin. By all these means, the historic integrity of the building was not sacrificed.

- 1990 -- A breathable, split wood shingle roof was designed to provide historical styling typical of an1820 period roof this area.  An airtight membrane was placed below the roof runner to assure the proper operation of the halon-gas fire suppression system. A concealed gutter and traditional copper flashing were added, along with the completion of other various repairs and maintenance work.

- 1990 -- A breathable, split wood shingle roof was designed to provide historical styling typical of an1820 period roof this area.  An airtight membrane was placed below the roof runner to assure the proper operation of the halon-gas fire suppression system. A concealed gutter and traditional copper flashing were added, along with the completion of other various repairs and maintenance work.

- 1993 – Several areas of the Plantation were restored to their original 1820’s condition. A plaster wall located in the morning room was carefully refinished,  the restrooms from the first floor (added in the 1950’s) were removed and these areas were restored. A privy outbuilding was constructed North of the main house for public use. The floor in the John Audubon bedroom was accurately restored to the 1820 period.  Wood beams were replaced at the front porch and French drains were added along two sides of the building to reduce rising damp within the interior.

- 1995 -- Working closely with the "Friends of Oakley,” the interior walls and ceilings were brought back to their original quality using historical paint analysis. Some minor maintenance and repairs were performed on the interior with period materials.  We also consulted on the repair and painting of the kitchen outbuilding’s fireplace.

- 1997– The exterior brickwork was to be restored to its original character. While tests were performed to determine how best to remove the coats of white paint added during the 1970’s, it was determined that the bricks had originally been painted red with “pencilled” mortar joints. A biodegradable paint remover was used to insure no visible damage to brick or mortar, and the brick was restored to its 1820 appearance.

- 1999 – Further investigations and analysis of the original painted finishes made it possible to completely and accurately restore the exterior and interior wall and ceiling finishes. Damaged beams and siding at the porches were also replaced. All materials used were carefully selected and painstakingly installed with period materials and workmanship.

- 2003 – A new Visitors Center and Museum was designed in the style of an historic cotton barn, and fitted with a corten metal roof. The facility, located on the grounds of the plantation, is home to a small theater, museum, gift shop, offices for staff, and an archaeology lab in which artifacts found at the plantation are prepared, stored and displayed.

 - 2013 - Housekeeping and maintenance was performed. The structural exterior arch was repaired, interior beams were replaced, and the cypress wood shake roof was maintained. Material used is reclaimed beams approximately 150-200 year old cypress. Interior area was repainted with color chosen per historic paint analysis by coco paint restorers.

- 2017 - Exterior repairs were done along with some repainting.