Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oak Knoll, Oak Alley

The practice of historical architecture provides access to some places not usually seen from the "public right of way". Where would you suppose this house is located?

... You would be wrong. This is not Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana, pictured below with a clip from their website. This is a grand Victorian mansion (first built in the 1870's) in Napa County's Oak Knoll District. The house was altered in 1949 to replicate the 1837 Oak Alley Plantation - and quite successfully at that. The Victorian tower, porches and "gingerbread" were removed, the porches expanded, and the hipped roof altered. Even the dormers were added. The setting is on a true "Oak Knoll", with the drive curving through a natural savanna studded with 70 to 80 mature valley white oaks (quercus lobata). The stand of valley white oaks is the largest and oldest I have seen yet in Napa County, with most of the trees appearing to be hundreds of years old. All of the owners of this ranch since the 1800's have refrained from cutting the oaks and planting grapes, prunes, walnuts or any of the cash crops grown in the Napa Valley since the 1840's.

Oak Alley Plantation has an equally distinctive allee of 28 live oaks lining the walk to the river - the Mississippi River. The trees may have been planted in about 1710. The link above is to some photos of the trees taken by "Larry" - a member of the Louisiana Native Tree Society.

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