Please note: The information on this website currently describes the 2013 event. The 2014 symposium will be held on October 10 & 11. The website will be updated in April.
Established in 1809, St. Francisville is set in a unique location on a bluff of the Mississippi river. Often described as a town “two miles long and two yards wide,” the quaint community offers southern hospitality, fantastic shopping, and breathtaking scenery. Symposium events are held at several historic and picturesque locations.
Afton Villa Gardens
Although a fire in 1963 destroyed the gothic antebellum mansion, the gardens at Afton Villa are among the most famous and picturesque in the state. Beginning in 1972, Genevieve and Morrell Trimble undertook the task of restoring the grounds. Today the estate contains over 20 acres of formal gardens and pleasure grounds, including the famous ruins gardens, a formal parterre garden, a daffodil valley, a historic family cemetery, and more.
A cultural arts and reception center, Hemingbough takes advantage of the extraordinary scenic beauty of West Feliciana parish. Conceived and developed by Arlin Dease, Hemingbough’s classic architecture and tranquil gardens provide an ideal setting for the Southern Garden Symposium.
Jackson Hall at Grace Church
Organized March 15, 1827, Grace Church is the second oldest Episcopal church in Louisiana. The present church, built in 1858-60, is a well-preserved brick structure reminiscent of Gothic country churches which dot the English countryside. Its peaceful oak-shaded cemetery is filled with fine statuary and Victorian monuments of marble and stone.
Built in 1850, Nydrie’s varied history includes use as a hospital during the Civil War. Drawing its name from Niddry Castle in Winchburg, Scotland, the home was moved to St. Francisville from Tangipahoa parish in 1997. Native New Orleanians Skip and Anne Strachan Eichin purchased Nydrie in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, where Anne has enthusiastically restored the gardens.
Built by Daniel and Martha Turnbull in 1834, Rosedown remains one of the most majestic properties in the area. The gardens are as grand as the home and were the province of Martha Turnbull throughout her life. The gardens grew out from the house over a span of several years, to cover approximately 28 acres. Currently, the main house, historic gardens and 13 historic buildings and 371 remaining acres of Rosedown Plantation are preserved as a state historic site by the Office of State Parks.
Wade H. Richardson and his wife Madeline built Spring Grove in 1895 on a 500 acre tract carved from the extensive lands of Afton Villa Plantation. Glowingly described in turn-of-the-century publications as “an ideal country home supplied with modern conveniences to make rural life agreeable,” the charming residence is now the home of George and Anne Kurz who, with their children, are the fourth and fifth generations of the original owners.
Completed in 1903, Temple Sinai was called one of St. Francisville’s “most attractive places of worship,” and housed a once-sizeable Jewish congregation described as “charitable to the needy and kindly towards all without regard to creed.” Following its 2012 restoration, Temple Sinai serves as a multipurpose, non-denominational space for events and programs, and is part of an ongoing project that includes the restoration of the adjacent Julius Freyhan High School building, constructed in 1907.
United Methodist Church
Located in the heart of St. Francisville’s historic district, this picturesque wooden church was built in 1899. It includes the bell tower from the imposing 1844 church originally constructed in nearby Bayou Sara.