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 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.
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.
In 1956 Milton and Catherine Fondren Underwood purchased Rosedown Plantation from descendants of the original family and began an extensive restoration. They commissioned noted architectural firm Koch and Wilson to design this modern dwelling, which served as the Underwoods’ residence during and after the restoration of the planter’s house. It is now the home of a young family who enjoy life on the grounds of the plantation. Underwood Cottage is the private residence of Chet and Shanna Boudreaux.
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.
Known as Arrowhead when it was built in 1915 by Albert Soule, this three story farmhouse was designed to showcase the most progressive ideas of its day. In 1958 Conrad and Frances McVea lovingly restored the home and gardens renaming it Wildwood. It is now the residence of their son Tom and his wife Toni who have continued restoration of the house and the grounds that feature many mature camellias and azaleas.