Zemurray Gardens, with its flowers, fountains, statues, woods,
lakes, and unusual buildings, stand as one of the notable
scenic attractions of Louisiana. The land now occupied by
Zemurray Gardens was one of the earliest settled areas in
what is now Tangipahoa Parish and was originally settled by
Thomas Joiner sometime in the 1790s.
In 1828, Alfred Hennen purchased 1280 acres and built a house
here the following year. By 1860, Hennen was the third largest
rice producer in Louisiana, and owned over 100 slaves. After
his death in 1870, his daughter, Cora, wife of John A. Morris,
the major financial backer of the Louisiana Lottery, purchased
The Lake Superior Piling Company of Chicago,
of which Charles H. Houlton was president, bought the property
from the Morris heirs in 1918. Houlton and his brother William
made extensive improvements to the buildings, adding the colonnades
and interior redecorating that give the main buildings of
the estate their unique architectural character.
was then given the name "Houltonwood." However,
the Zemurray Gardens and Lodge Complex take their name from
Samuel Zemurray, a Russian Jewish immigrant who made his fortune
in America from the banana trade with Central America. He
sold his successful fruit company in 1929 for $33,000,000
to the United Fruit Company, a year after he had purchased
the "Houltonwood" estate.
After making his millions Zemurray became a noted philanthropist
and expanded Zemurray Gardens, which began in 1922. A trail
of azaleas cuts through the forest of magnolias, cypress,
poplars, gum and oaks.
The path, which also boasts camellias,
irises, daffodils, dogwoods, honeysuckles, marigolds and yellow
poplars, goes around Mirror Lake, where cast bronze statues
stand reminiscent of the great gardens of an earlier epoch.
Photo credit - Lagniappe Tours, Foundation
for Historical Louisiana
Zemurray Gardens is not only renowned for its scenic gardens
and fountains, but is also locally significant architecturally.
The lodge complex forming the main building on the grounds
has an interior designed in the Arts and Crafts style of the
early 1900s by distinguished New Orleans architect Moise H.
Some of the decorating and architectural features characteristic
of this movement, like wainscoting, medieval-looking beamed
ceilings, the inglenook, and the Craftsman styled staircase
are all present in the one-and-a-half-story gable-end house
with the log cabin recreation room that serves as the main
building. There are few if any surviving examples of the Arts
and Crafts style found in Louisiana's Florida Parishes, making
those within the Zemurray Gardens Lodge Complex truly unique.
The Zemurray Gardens Lodge Complex is located along State
Hwy 40 in Loranger, 1.7 miles east of State Hwy 455. The gardens
are open from 10:00am to 6:00pm March through mid-April; there
is a fee for admission. Call 985-878-2284 for further information.
provided by National Parks Service