Isaac floods historic Louisiana plantation
by AP News Now
September 12, 2012 01:00 AM | 885 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DALCOUR, La. — Mary Plantation House, Plaquemines Parish’s oldest building and a historically significant example of French Creole architecture, withstood 10 feet of Hurricane Isaac’s tidal surge — a force that felled trees on the property and ruined some antiques in the home’s first floor.

But New Orleans hotelier Blake Miller, who purchased the property at auction in March for $770,000, said Friday he will restore the site, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983. He completed his renovation just two weeks ago, converting the Dalcour residence into a venue for weddings, receptions, meetings and other events.

“We’re going to get her up and running,” Miller said. “She’s going to be a grand old lady, up and running in six months.”

The renovation included converting a former barn on the 7.5-acre property into a wedding chapel, named Mary Chapel, with seating for 80. The surge overtopped the building and washed out the chairs, Miller said.

The surge also moved a log-cabin-type barn in back of the property about 10 feet, and then a tree fell on it, Miller said. It cannot be salvaged, he said.

“It looks like a tsunami hit down there,” he said of Plaquemines’ east bank, which took on as much as 13 feet of water that bypassed locally owned levees designed to keep Breton Sound out of the communities.

“We lost lots of trees, but none of the historic oak trees were lost,” Miller said.

While water did not reach the upper floor, mold has spread upstairs, he said. Power lines are draped across the front of the property along Louisiana 39, preventing vehicles from accessing the house to move the furniture out. Most of the antique furniture on the first floor is lost, he said, along with one of the home’s doors and some of the windows.

Miller added: “Everything can be repaired and replaced.”

Further complicating progress, aside from the dead horses and cows whose carcasses litter the area, is that electrical and water service is not expected to be restored before two months. He hired a pressure-washing company that will bring its own water to the site for cleaning next week, he said.

“Most important, the dead animals need to get out of there,” he said.

Another complication is assessing repair value for insurance purposes, he said, because repairs must be historically correct. That includes using Spanish cedar. The home, whose brick walls are 16 inches thick, retains its original horsehair plaster walls, red brick floors and French doors that open to a wraparound gallery.
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