CRESCENT PLANTATION HOUSE
By Blanche Oliver – June 24, 1936
Written as a Work Project Administration (WPA) Project
Visitors are welcome. Two miles east of Tallulah on U. 3. 80, thence southeasterly for 3 miles on a graveled road that follows Walnut Bayou.
Crescent Plantation House - 1992
HISTORY: The allure of old houses is universal. The passing years and much living give them a quality, intangible, but ever present, and we find ourselves investing them with souls and spirits all their own. One experiences such feelings upon a visit to Crescent Plantation.
In the agricultural heart of Madison Parish, with fields of oats and cotton on all sides, on the banks of Walnut Bayou, stands the house itself. Set far back from the road in the midst of ancient cedars and magnolias, now somewhat bereft of the more extravagant glories of the past, it still retains much of the dignity which its age and its history fully justify.
The Dancy family, prominent landowners of Madison Parish built the main section of the house in 1855, but the original house, which was added at the time as a rear wing, was erected, according to tradition, about the year 1832, so long ego, as time is reckoned in this very young country of ours, that the name of the builder has been lost.
A sawmill was built on the place when the Dancys acquired it, in which the slaves cut the cypress timbers of which the house is made.
Before the Civil War, a hedge of cedars surrounded the home, but during that conflict, they were allowed to grow uncurbed, and later, many of them were cut, only four remaining of the avenue that formerly led to the house.
Nothing can be seen of the old family burial ground that was in a grove of cedars a short distance from the house but a few trees, a recent owner having built a cow shed over the graves.
The story of the escape of Crescent Plantation home from pillage and fire from Grant's far-sweeping army, marching on to Vicksburg, comes from a member of the Dancy family.
A reconnoitering troop drew up before the house during those troublous times, and the young commander gave the order to sack and burn. As his men sprang from their saddles to obey the command, the great door of Crescent opened, and Its master stepped out. "Gentlemen," he said, "I was warned of your coming, and I am acquainted with your purpose. For myself, I ask no quarter, but there is a woman in this house, very dear to me, who is extremely ill. The doctor has said that any move, any excitement, will prove fatal. I do not ask you to change your plans. I simply state the truth." He bowed, and turned to the open door, but the Federal officer, raising his hand in salute, answered, "Sir, we do not murder women. I wish you good day."
Tradition says that during later visits of the Federal troops, the same situation presented itself, and the officers, possessing similar traits of character as the disciple Thomas, demanded that they be shown the patient. Finding all doubts as to the the truth of Mr. Dancy's statement to be without foundation, Crescent was saved from destruction.
In post-bellum days, the plantation became the property of Thomas F. Ward, member of a prominent Madison Parish family, from whom it passed in 1915 to the present owner, George W. Patterson, a northern man who introduced new farming methods to the region.
BUILDING: The architecture of the main building of Crescent facing the bayou is of the type known as Colonial. It is of two-storied frame construction, with eight tall Doric columns rising to the full height of the building, and supporting two wide balconies, upstairs and down, which extend across the entire front. The ceilings of these balconies are plastered. A great doorway in the center, flanked on each side by two French windows which extend almost to the top of the fourteen foot ceiling, gives entrance to a once specious hallway. A graceful spiral stairway with mahogany rail, leads from the back of the hall to the second floor. The original brass doorknobs and locks are still in use, and the quaint stained glass used in the transoms that frame the doorway, was imported from Europe.
Four spacious rooms, two on each floor, opening into the hall, and all with immense open fireplaces, comprise the main building, the original plastered walls and ceiling ornamentation being in excellent condition today.
The rear wing, built in about 1832, of Colonial architecture also, was a complete story and a half house with dormer windows,
a large central hall, rooms on either side, and a wide porch extending across the front supported by Doric columns.
PRESENT OWNERSHIP: Crescent Plantation is now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. George Patterson.
Quite a number of changes have been made in the interior, which, Mr. Patterson tells you with a twinkle in his eye, “Spoiled the place, but a person had to have a bathroom.”
One of the large downstairs rooms of the two-storied section is used as a living room, and the other as an office for Mr. Patterson. The upstairs rooms, as in the past, are bedrooms. The rear wing has been cut into kitchen, breakfast room, dining room, and bath.
A very utilitarian and ugly galvanized tin roof inappropriately covers the lovely old home, which detracts from its delightful ante bellum atmosphere almost more than the addition of a gasoline tank, and sheds and barns which have been built to house the modern machinery in use on Crescent today.
1. Francis Ward, son of Thomas Ward, former owner of Crescent Plantation. Tallulah, La.
2. Miss Amanda Stone, resident of Madison Parish for many years, and descendant of Dancy family. Tallulah, La.