The opulent San Francisco Plantation House is a galleried
house in the Creole manner that has been pictured in American,
British, and Swedish periodicals as one of the major sites
of the New Orleans area. Constructed between 1849-50, the
San Francisco Plantation House is one of the most ornate of
Louisiana's plantation houses.
San Francisco, with its potpourri
of architectural designs, its immense and ornate roof construction,
and the paintings decorating the ceilings and door panels
in the house's parlors, exemplifies the "steamboat Gothic"
The exterior of the home resembles a layer cake, with a simple
ground floor where brick columns support the gallery across
the front and halfway back the sides. A double stairway leads
from this gallery to the second floor gallery where fluted
wood columns with cast-iron Corinthian capitals support an
The main living area is on the second floor
instead of the ground level. The attic is a Victorian construction
that gives the house a unique look with the hip roof pierced
by tall dormers with diamond-paned, Tudor-arched windows.
Historic view of San Francisco, c.1891
Photograph courtesy Lagniappe Tours
San Francisco's floor plan is unique as well, but the interior's
primary significance lies in the fine murals attributed to
Dominique Canova. The cost of San Francisco Plantation House,
along with the paintings and other interior decorations, may
have given rise to the house's name. One legend holds that
the French phrase "son saint-frusquin," or "the
shirt off his back," was a description of what the construction
of the house cost its first owner, Edmond Marmillion. This
became mistranslated into San Francisco.
Another legend holds that the name celebrated the port of
entry to northern California, then undergoing the gold rush
of 1849. A further legend states that the name changed from
Sans St. Frusquin to San Francisco when Achille D. Bougere
purchased the plantation house in 1879.
San Francisco was
originally preserved by the efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Clark
Thompson. The house is now owned by the San Francisco Plantation
Foundation and has been restored to its former glory.
San Francisco Plantation House, a National Historic Landmark,
is located on Highway 44, off River Road, three miles upriver
The Plantation is open for tours 10:00am to
4:30pm March through October and 10:00am to 4:00pm November
through February (except major holidays); there is a fee.
Please call 985-535-2341 for further information.