Big breakfast before our full day of touring. Oatmeal, eggs, bacon, fruit and HOMEMADE biscuits.
Now, off to the Ardoyne Plantation House, a VICTORIAN GOTHIC Sugarcane Plantation Home completed in 1894 by John Dalton Shaffer. What is really unique is that it has been continually lived in by the builder’s original family for 6 generations and is STILL a working sugarcane plantation. Unfortunately, we could not take photos inside….
The resident ghost at Ardoyne Plantation is called Uncle Benny. Uncle Benny didn't get along with Grandmother Margaret, who lived in the plantation home. The story goes that Uncle Benny came to visit one day, and Grandmother Margaret hid his boots upstairs where he couldn't find them. This made him very angry, as there are over 20 rooms in the house, and he looked in all of them!
Susan Shaffer told us that Uncle Benny passed away in 1942, and that's when people started hearing footsteps upstairs, all through the night. Susan and her husband moved into the house in 2008, and she decided to remedy the problem. Upon going in the attic she found two pairs of boots, and she brought them down to the office. Ever since then there have been no reports of footsteps upstairs. They like to think that “Uncle Benny is happy he found his boots and is now residing in the office."
Lunch at Grady V’s Bayou Country Club was eloquent: stuffed chicken Florentine, shrimp & grits, back nine salad, tomato basil soup, sweet potato mash, sautéed vegetables and “Gooey Toffee Ala Mode.”
Their goal was to provide uncomplicated, honest and good food and drinks to their guests. They decided on classic favorites. When their doors opened, the community embraced them then and embraces them now.
The afternoon was spent at Chauvin Sculpture Garden. Little is known about the reclusive Kenny Hill, a bricklayer by trade, born around 1950. In 1988, he settled on some property on the bayou in Chauvin (pronounced show-van), Louisiana—population 3,400. Hill pitched a tent as his home and, over time, built a small rustic home that demonstrated an interesting use of space and attention to detail. Then, in 1990, without explanation, he began transforming his lush bayou environment into a fantastic chronicle of the world as seen through his eyes.
Less than a decade later, more than 100 primarily religious concrete sculptures densely pack the narrow, bayouside property. The sculptures are a profound mixture of Biblical reference, Cajun colors, and the evident pain and struggle of the artist’s life. Most figures—black, white, male, female, child, or solider—are guided, supported, or lifted by seemingly weightless angels. The unique angels, some inviting passage, others prohibiting, vary from blue skinned, bare-footed, and sightless to regal celestial figures clad in medieval garb with the black boots of the local shrimp fishermen.
The most prominent piece is a 45-foot-tall lighthouse, composed of 7,000 bricks, with figures clinging to the outside: cowboys, soldiers, angels, God and Hill himself. A walk through this sculpture environment is an emotional experience, evoking a sense of deep spirituality but also personal pain.
The lighthouse, made of 7,000 bricks and decorated with sculptures, is just the beginning of a journey through the world of Kenny Hill, a bricklayer who left behind more than 100 concrete sculptures on his bayou-side property in Chauvin, Louisiana. Ranging in subject from angels, cowboys, God, soldiers, children and Hill himself, the sculptures depict the artist’s spirituality and his struggle with growing personal pain.
Hill placed himself in many of the scenes: he rides a horse; carries Christ’s cross; stands with long hair and a beard, his heart bleeding; and shows his face painted half black and white, suggesting the artist’s struggle between good and evil.
During the ten-plus years he lived on the property and created his art, he was adamant that the work was just for him—he felt no need to share it. Hill repeatedly denied requests for access to photograph or publicize his work but reportedly declared it a “story of salvation” for the local residents.
Neighbors have created a picture of Hill as a man who, by the time he abandoned his art in early January 2000, was deeply troubled and left not only his art and his home, but also abandoned the religion that had come to dominate his life. Evicted by the parish in 2000 for not keeping the grass and weeds under control, Hill disappeared on foot, but not before knocking the head off of the sculpture of Jesus.
WOW, WHAT A FIND! Only with Rivoli Rallies. Who knew that all that art would be in this secluded area.
Dinner was at Cristiano Ristorante, specializing in northern Italian cuisine with a seasonal menu focusing on the freshest local ingredients.
Then back to camp with full tummies.