On the western banks of the Mississippi River, southwest of Baton Rouge and northwest of New Orleans, stands a stunning and truly awe-inspiring Greek and Italianate style “White Castle”. This is Nottoway Plantation, the South’s largest antebellum mansion, and the mere fact that she actually is still standing is a tribute to the tenacity, courage and commitment of many people throughout her history. Nottoway has survived the Civil War, a variety of owners, and years of decline and disrepair to become a favorite destination for visitors the world over.
Completed in 1859, Nottoway’s 53,000 square foot palatial white mansion awes visitors with its 64 rooms and countless extravagant features like 22 massive exterior columns, 12 hand-carved Italian marble fireplaces, exquisitely detailed plaster frieze moldings, soaring 15½-foot ceilings, enormous 11-foot doors and a lavish pure white oval ballroom, as well as unheard of innovative features, like modern bathrooms with running water and a gas plant providing gas lighting throughout the home.
The construction of Nottoway was commissioned by John Hampden Randolph, a very prestigious sugar planter, to be the ultimate showplace of his wealth; he wanted no expense spared and ordered that it include every extravagance and innovative feature possible. Stately, opulent Nottoway would be home to John, his wife, Emily Jane Randolph, and their 11 children, but also the perfect setting in which to elegantly and dramatically entertain their many visitors.
John’s wish was to build the finest mansion on the Mississippi River, a spectacular home without equal that would be admired by all who saw it, whether from a riverboat on the Mississippi or a horse-drawn carriage traveling on the Great River Road. However, although he was considered to be an astute businessman and remarkable visionary, it is doubtful that even John Randolph could have foreseen that, more than a century and a half later, his magnificent and beloved Nottoway Plantation would be revered and visited by thousands of people around the world.