de la Ronde Ruins, Versailles, Louisiana

Sunday was absolutely gorgeous weather, mid-70s and very low humidity. I drove to St. Bernard Parish, south of New Orleans, to hunt for the de la Ronde Ruins, which I saw a photo of in Clarence John Laughlin’s Ghosts Along the Mississppi. I found them on a traffic island on LA-46 near the intersection with Paris Road in Chalmette (Versailles never attained town status and is really just a neighborhood of Chalmette), with a bar on one side and some kind of refinery on the other.

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There’s something really sad and forlorn about them. I’m sure Pierre Denis de la Ronde thought that generations of his family would live in this house; in reality, it was inhabited for less than a decade. Construction was completed in 1805, the Battle of New Orleans during The War of 1812 happened less than a mile away. The house was looted and shelled. It burned down in 1873, but it had been an empty shell for decades by then.

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To the left you can see the remains of the flagstone walk at the front of the house.

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de la Ronde’s double oak alley has actually fared better than the house. It led from the river to the front door, and except where they were cut down to build the highway they’re mostly still there. (And by “highway” we’re talking a mostly-rural 2-lane road. Not some 8-lane urban expressway with hundreds of cars roaring past every minute. “Highway” has a different meaning when you live in the south.)

I shot a roll in the LC-A+ and I’ll have those up later this week.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jnewhart
    Oct 22, 2013 @ 09:25:01

    Awesome pictures

  2. Deann L De La Ronde
    May 05, 2015 @ 16:02:48

    How lovely to see these photos of the ruins of my ancestor’s old plantation mansion. The story goes that when the British landed on the shores behind this plantation home, my ancestor, Pierre Denis de la Ronde, was immediately upon his horse to ride out the front,down the avenue of oaks, to ring the alarm. The mansion was garrisoned by the British during the War, where it was badly looted while being used as a hospital. This family is well known over in France. When one of the de la Ronde’s was killed by a pike thrust during a skirmish along the Seine River in Paris, the King walked behind the casket during the funeral procession to the cemetery. They were sea faring adventurers who apparently landed on the shores of Mexico before Christopher landed on the East coast of America. My Father, Gordon G. De La Ronde did some rather extensive research. The De La Ronde historians in France have the original logs from the first Fur Trading Post established for France along the shores of Lake Michigan. It is a very colorful family history. These photos of the ruins are a bittersweet reminder of what was once “the finest of plantation houses on the field of the Battle of New Orleans” (Plantation Houses on the Battlefield of New Orleans by Samuel Wilson, Jr., F.A,I.A., 1965). Thank you for sharing! I would love to see more of these. And one day soon hope to travel down to snoop around where my ancestors once lived. Would love to meet you, Sarah!

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