The days of great Sugar Barons and their opulent lifestyles may be over, but there is one gentleman who desires that the history and grandeur of the antebellum area be preserved and elevated into an experience for generations to come. Kevin Kelly is the owner of one of Louisiana architectural treasures, the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens also known as the Sugar Palace that he has painstakingly restored with expansive gardens, rare artifacts and historical creditability. “The Houmas House is a historic estate, formerly the largest plantation in United States”, said Kelly “I am treating this more like an urban business than an I do a rural historic house. I had to make it work and have a direction. I want you to come here to have a meal, to have a drink, to enjoy it and come back every couple of weeks.” An hour drive from New Orleans is well worth the time and effort to explore and encounter an area that for the most part did depart from the landscape of American culture, that of plantation life. With its challenging environment this was a land that was originally occupied by the indigenous oumas Indians who sold the land in the mid 1700’s to Maurice Conway and Alexander Latil. Conway and Latil developed property dwellings but it was owner John Smith Preston that built the Greek revival mansion in 1840. Through the years, the property has had multiple owners, including the great Sugar baron John Burnside who transformed the Houmas into the largest sugar producer in 1857 utilizing the almost 100,000 acres and hundreds of slaves in producing millions of pounds of sugar each year. All through its history the plantation maintained a strong economic force, but with the ravages of Mother Nature and the Great Depression, the House fell into decrepitude but was once again revitalized by Dr. George B. Crozat of New Orleans who named it the Houmas House. Kelly purchased the Houmas House in 2003 with the intent of transforming the property into a historical, educational and premier tourism attraction along with fine dining venues, and deluxe overnight accommodations, and wedding and banquet facilities. Daily tours afford guests a rare glimpse into an estate and an economic structure that made up the cultural underpinnings of the South. Period dressed docents lead guests through the house while pointing out many artifacts that have been purchase according to the historical period and some part of the original estate. “I found an entire closet filled with period dishes and silver that had been sealed shut,” said Kelly. The Houmas House has been carefully maintained and preserved with a vast collection of rare and expensive art works, verdant gardens and several stunning restaurants including Café Burnside, the Carriage House with the Turtle bar offering a vast collection of fine wines and whiskeys, and fine dining venue Latil’s Landing lauded as a Forbes 5 star dining destination. Also on property are elegant overnight cottages noted as the Inn at Houmas for those seeking an extended visit with comfortable period furnishings, luxurious bedding and L’Occitane en Provence toiletries. “We title this the crown jewel of the Louisiana’s River Road primarily because of its importance. It is the Sugar Palace, a special place, see great artwork, water gardens, architectural gardens, and rare furniture collections,” added Kelly. Kelly has also secured a scenic by-way grant through the Department of Transportation and is preparing to open a National Steamboat Museum on the property known as the Louisiana River Road Steamboat Overlook Interpretive Center. “This will be a place to see the culture of the Mississippi river; the folktale and commerce of the great river,” said Kelly. The museum is projected to be open in the spring of 2019 as a major interpretive center for the Lower Mississippi River and the Lower Great River Road National Byway. Kevin Kelly is determined to preserve a part of history that defined the south for decades. Houmas house is the perfect day trip from the rancor of Bourbon Street or a extended stay where the lush gardens and towering moss covered oaks will have under the spell of old world southern charm.