Vestiges of Grandeur

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The Plantations of Lousiana’s River Road

Vestiges of Grandeur is perhaps best described as the rural companion volume to New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence. This project focuses on the historic plantation sites of the River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In many ways, Vestiges of Grandeur is a refinement of the photo-essay approach that proved so successful in Elegance and Decadence. The subject matter, though, is more complex, somber, and mired in a complex history. Whereas Elegance and Decadence was a celebration, Vestiges of Grandeur is more of a bittersweet lament. Also, Vestiges is more journalistically ambitious and seeks to present a more definitive picture of the full scope of the subject. It includes not just the principal houses of the planters, but the slave cabins, barns, pigeonniers, overseer’s houses, and sugar mills, that formed the working sites of Louisiana plantations.

Richard Sexton’s text and photographs are supplemented by the aerial photographs of Alex S. MacLean, which are a vital component of the photo-essay. Preservation architect Eugene Cizek contributed an historical introduction.