Ashland Plantation was an historic plantation estate and home of Duncan Farrar Kenner, located in Darrow, Louisiana. Ashland was also known as Belle Helene. The estate is an example of Classical Revival style.
Ashland-Belle Helene plantation house, an example of Classical Revival style
Duncan F. Kenner (1813-1887) built Ashland for his wife, Anne Guillemine
Nanine Bringier, a member of an old and influential French family of
Louisiana. Ashland-Belle Helene is representative of the massiveness,
simplicity, and dignity which are generally held to epitomize the
Classical Revival style of architecture. Free of service attachments and
with a loggia on all four facades, it is a more complete classical
statement than the vast majority of Louisiana plantation houses. With
its broad spread of eight giant pillars across each facade and its heavy
entablature, Ashland-Belle Helene is among the grandest and largest
plantation houses ever built in the state. Ashland-Belle Helene is also
important for its association with Duncan F. Kenner, a sugar planter,
horse breeder, lawyer and political figure during the antebellum period.
The walls of Ashland (as the Kenner plantation was then known) were
adorned with paintings of horses, and the grounds included a racetrack.
Kenner himself was a keen advocate of scientific methods of farming and
experimented with innovations in the sugar production industry. Kenner
is said to have been the first in the state to use the portable railroad
to carry cane from fields to mill.
In addition to serving in the
Louisiana House of Representatives, and as a member of the Confederate
Congress, Kenner was appointed in 1865 as minister plenipotentiary by
President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, to gain the support of
England and France for the Confederacy. When Kenner returned to Ashland
at the end of the Civil War, he found his plantation in ruins and his
slaves freed, the place having been raided by Union troops in 1862. At
the age of 52 he had to start over again, but by persistence and great
business skill, and by re-employing as laborers the slaves that had been
freed, he built up an estate. When Duncan Kenner died, his plantation
was even larger and more valuable than it had been before the war. In
1889, Ashland was purchased by John B. Reuss, a German immigrant who
became a prosperous sugar planter. Reuss re-named the plantation "Belle
Helene" in honor of his granddaughter, Helene Reuss.
Plantation is set approximately 1500 ft. from the Mississippi River,
just off State Hwy. 75, north of Darrow. Ashland is not open to the