Friday, July 1, 2016

Villere Plantation ruins


The Villere Plantation's brick drainage pump ruins have been entrusted, through a conservation easement  to the St. Bernard Parish Historical Society.  Unfortunately, the agreement expires at the end of the terms of an EPA consent decree.  It would be a shame for our national historical treasure to be lost. Valero Energy has the opportunity to do the right thing and make edits to the consent decree which includes making the conservation easement permanent and merging the politically seated CAP meeting with the public meetings.

The wooded area of the former Villere Plantation would make a wonderful bird and wildlife sanctuary and is perfectly situated to add a wetlands observation walkway at the 40 arpent canal.

The Villere Plantation was listed as a War of 1812 Preservation Priority in the 2007 American Battlefield Protection Program Report to Congress. "The priorities indicate which sites, in the opinion of the National Park Service, merit immediate preservation action, which need ongoing preservation action, which require additional study, and which are best suited for commemoration rather than preservation."

This area of the old Villere Plantation land, in Meraux, Louisiana, is just west of the natural waterways that are part of the actual British invasion route of the Battle of New Orleans 1814-1815.  British Major-General Edward Pakenham's forces used the Panel Ditch and the linear (north - south) canal to the east of the Entergy utility pole easement to reach the Villere Plantation home, which was closer to the Mississippi River. Notes from Parish Historian

map of Villere, Lacoste, Chalmette, and Jumoville Plantations

The Villere archaeological brick ruins are located in the area just north of the Valero Energy crude oil tank farm {page 43 of  link } .  This area is home to nesting eagles and would be a really cool place not only for a walking history tour but also for a nature trail and bird sanctuary.

below photo of Villere drainage mechanism in the 1930's

below photo of same in the 1970's

below:  Photograph by John Messina for Series: DOCUMERICA: The Environmental Protection Agency's Program to Photographically Document Subjects of Environmental Concern, compiled 1972 - 1977

In time for the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans it would be a nice gesture if Valero Energy could reinstall a historical sign on St Bernard Highway and continue in perpetuity the conservation easement for the archaeological ruins of the drainage machine.

This monument marker was once located at Murphy Oil refinery, now owned by Valero Energy, in an area of the old Villere land closer to the river.  This is where the December 23, 1814 scrimmage occurred, prior to the January 1815 Battle of New Orleans (approximately located at 2500 East St Bernard Highway in Eastern Chalmette).

map of area with brick ruins of drainage pump

Although not indicated on the above map, Floral Estates is an established residential neighborhood, revitalized since Fall 2005; it was the location of the first S.L.A.B. festival in 2007.  S.L.A.B. means support landscaping and beautification, which is a main focus of the Rediscover District C association.  The S.L.A.B. festival raised funds for beautification projects throughout the parish. It was held on two concrete slab remnants of houses voluntarily demolished after the Murphy Oil crude oil spill and the levee failures in Hurricane Katrina.  


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