Kent Plantation House has much to celebrate on September 19th. This beautiful grand Creole home will have its 210th birthday party. Kent Plantation House is a historic site owned by the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Office of State Parks.
Kent House exists because community leaders in 1963 realized that a home built in 1800 and owned by the American Legion was about to be torn down. These forward thinking citizens refused to sit and watch this beautiful house be destroyed along with almost 200 years of history.
The American Legion donated the house to the group “Friends of Kent House” and these volunteers started the tradition of having fundraisers. The first ones were to purchase the land it sits on, moving costs, the expenses of restoration, and other expenses related to such an endeavor. They moved it a few blocks down to the present location at Bayou Rapides Road. It was placed on the Historic Register in 1971 and opened for tours in 1975. Kent Plantation House now includes the main Creole house and 11 other out buildings of the same period. Two years ago the State built an almost $2 million dollar Visitor’s Center to add to the site. The main house contains gorgeous period furniture that is largely on loan from individuals and local foundations, while the open-hearth kitchen is fully operational and volunteers cook meals in the winter months.
Kent Plantation House is owned by the State of Louisiana but is managed and governed through a cooperative endeavor agreement with the State by a non-profit Board of Directors. This arrangement has caused much misunderstanding in regards to state funds. When the funding was recently cut by $100,000, many said that it should have been because it is an “NGO”. But it is not. An NGO is a non-governmental organization, or one that is not owned by the State. To reiterate, Kent House is owned by the State of Louisiana.
The mission of Kent House is education and in 2009 the staff did that to almost 20,000 visitors, from every state in the continental USA, and 39 foreign countries, describing in detail the way of life in the 1800’s. Last year the staff guided almost 2000 school children through the house. The students came from all over the state, from places such as Grand Coteau, Ville Platte, Monroe and locally.
So many have given so much of their time, money, and labor to Kent House that it would be impossible to list them all. Scrapbooks chronicle the efforts of those who worked tirelessly for Central Louisiana to have this true jewel in our community. As we celebrate the birthday of Kent Plantation House, we wish to extend an invitation to anyone, who, through the years, has worked for Kent Plantation House, volunteered at Kent House, visited Kent House, or anyone interested in the history of our area to come share memories, eat a meal and listen to the music of Charmaine Neville. We will be selling a plate dinner and drinks. The birthday cake, by Harlows, is complimentary as long as it lasts. The gates will open at 6:00pm, and the Charmaine Neville Band will begin entertaining at 7:00pm. Ticket prices are $30.00 for adults and $10.00 for children twelve and under.
We also want to get the word out that we bring in many tourism dollars that help the entire community. This is a time of discouragement in many segments of society because of our economy, but at Kent Plantation House we are excited about the future and invite those who do not know about us to visit us, support us, verbally and financially, and to believe, as we do, that the “best is yet to come”. Please come help us celebrate.