St. Delphine Plantation
St. Delphine Plantation “The Big House”
August 20, 2006
August J. Levert, Jr., Family LLC
Historic River Road, near town limits, levee side, Addis, Louisiana
Originally a 218.02 acre Spanish land grant to Valery Bergeron in the late 1700’s, Warwick Flanigan built in 1860 a Greek Revival mansion for Isidore Daigle. In 1871 property sold to Auguste J. Levert, Sr. and Leon Bernard. Levert bought Bernard’s interest in 1874 and remained the sole owner until his death in 1886 when his three sons became heirs. August J. Levert, Jr., bought his brothers’ interest in 1888.
A tornado nearly destroyed the plantation home in 1906. The home was rebuilt in 1907 and later destroyed in 1932 due to the Mississippi River levee set back. A portion of the plantation remaining after the levee set back was sold by heirs of Auguste Levert, Jr. to James H. Laws and Co. as part of Cinclare Plantation on May 27, 1943.
The Levert family still owns 398 original plantation acres west of Louisiana Hwy 1.
Over 100 folks were on hand Sunday, August 20, 2006, as The West Baton Rouge Historical Association and the August J. Levert, Jr., Family LLC dedicated a State of Louisiana Historic Marker at the sight of the St. Delphine Plantation known as “The Big House” near Addis. General Manager Paul M. Levert welcomed the crowd as family and friends gathered to witness the special event. Erika Baumann, daughter of Paul & Linda Levert lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Deacon Sammy Collura of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Brusly lead the prayers and blessed the marker after it was unveiled by family members Amanda Arnold and Katie Levert. Amanda is the daughter of Mike & Joyce Levert Arnold and Katie parents are Mark & Nancy Levert. August J. (Butch) Levert, Jr. read a brief history of St. Delphine and the Levert family as compiled by his wife, Juanda.
Brusly Councilwoman Joanne Bourgeois read the wording and as representative for the Historical Association thanked the Levert family for their generosity in funding the new marker. As WBR marker #16 it will serve to tell the story of the Levert family and home to all those who pass down Historic River Road for years to come.
Local officials adding remarks included Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot, Jr., Addis Mayor Pro-Temp Harry Landry, and Mayor Joey Normand of Brusly. Paul Levert closed by thanking everyone for attending, especially those family members who came from as far away as Opelousas, Ville Platte and Lafayette. Everyone was invited to the Brusly Town Hall for refreshments.
Special thanks were given to all the program participants, Town of Brusly Administration, Butch Leger & Town of Brusly Maintenance Staff, Steve McLin & West Baton Rouge Maintenance crew, Mike Varnado, State Historic Preservation Department, West Baton Rouge Historical Association & Museum, and David Wise, Shintech Corporation for their valuable assistance in making this marker possible.
The St. Delphine Plantation originally began as a 218.02 acre Spanish land grant to Valery Bergeron in the late 1700’s. It was later sold, first to Jean Baptiste Hebert in 1807, then to Bellony Hebert, then to Louis Daigle in 1815 for $1,650.00. In 1825, Louis Daigle sold to Joachim Daigle and Joachim Daigle re-conveyed the property to Louis Daigle. Near the end of the same year, Louis Daigle sold to L. Isadore Daigle for 1,200 piastres (Spanish coins).
Isadore Daigle, married to Celeste Delphine Molaison, owned and lived in a small house on the plantation which he presumably named St. Delphine in honor of his wife according to the then prevailing family tradition. The plantation, which comprised by this time with acquisitions, totaled 1,200 acres and was planted in sugar cane.
On June 15, 1859, Mr. Daigle entered into a contract with Warwick Flanigan for the construction of a mansion on St. Delphine Plantation at a price of $14,000.00. The original contract is on file in the LSU archives. The cost of the mansion eventually totaled $20,000. Although the architect is unknown, certain similarities between St. Delphine and other ante bellum homes suggest the possibility that Gallier, the renowned Greek architect from New Orleans was the designer.
After L. Isadore Daigle’s death, his son eventually sold the plantation to Auguste Levert, Sr. and Leon Bernard. In 1874 Auguste Levert, Sr. bought Leon Bernard’s interest for $10,000. After his death in 1886, his heirs operated the plantation under the supervision of Auguste Levert, Jr. In 1888, Auguste bought the interest of his brothers, Amadee and John B. for $36,666.66 and became sole owner of St. Delphine.
On Oct. 5, 1906, a tornado nearly demolished the mansion. It was remodeled according to plans and specifications prepared by Favrot and Livaudais, architects from New Orleans. The repairs took almost a year to complete.
When Mrs. Auguste Levert, Jr. vacated St. Delphine in 1921, her son, Sidney A. Levert, Sr. moved into the mansion. He resided there with his family, and with the widow of his deceased son, Bud and the children of her marriage to Sidney a. Levert, Jr., three generations living together again.
In 1932, a setback of the Mississippi River Levee took the mansion, which had been the scene of innumerable parties, family gatherings and elaborate entertainments.
The night before the mansion was demolished, a large farewell party was held to pay last homage to “The Big House” as St. Delphine was affectionately known to the family. A large crowd attended. It consisted of friends and relatives of the three generations then living in “The Big House.” Refreshments were served in the dining room. A band played from the back of the downstairs hall, and dancing was enjoyed by all. For the last time the walls of the stately old mansion rang with music and merriment, conversation and laughter. Family members and friends recalled the pleasantries of the past. It was a sentimental, not a sad occasion. Everyone had gathered to say farewell to a grand old mansion that had afforded so much pleasure to so many for so long. The finale was played and sung in the early morning hours. The next day, wrecking crews began the demolition which marked the end of a beautiful West Baton Rouge Parish landmark, and in turn, heralded the end of an era.
Juanda Levert wrote this condensed history that her husband August J. (Butch) Levert, Jr. read during Sunday’s dedication.
For more information:
- Elizabeth Kellough and Leona Mayeux, Chronicles of West Baton Rouge, Published by Kennedy Print Shop, Copyright 1979, Baton Rouge, pages 20-21 (copy attached)
- Mary Ann Sternberg, Along the River Road, Published by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, pages 207-208 (copy attached)
- Mary Olga Gassie Landry (Mrs. Paul B. Landry, Jr.), St. Delphine report for the West Baton Rouge Historical Association, dated September 1974 and revised February 1975, entire report, (copy attached)
- Vaughn L. Glasgow, Sunday Advocate, November 6, 1966 (copy attached)
- U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, December 6, 1973, copy of original building contract (copy attached)
- West Baton Rouge Genealogical Society Port Allen, Louisiana, West Baton Rouge Families, page 87 (copy attached)
- Addis Historical Society, Addis, Louisiana, Addis Remembered, (copy attached) • John Michael Lockhart, The Riverside Reader, “Growing up at St. Delphine”, August 7, 2000 (copy attached)
- John Michael Lockhart, The Riverside Reader, “Life at St. Delphine”, July 24-31, 2003 (copy attached)
- State of Louisiana, Parish of West Baton Rouge, 2004 tax notice (showing family still owns 398 acres in West Baton Rouge parish)
- Historic marker files at the West Baton Rouge Museum • Reference files at the West Baton Rouge Museum and Library