Lakeport Plantation is the last remaining, untouched antebellum home on the Mississippi River in Arkansas. It has successfully transitioned from slavery, to tenant farming, to a museum and historic site over the last 185+ years. And it’s still producing cotton.
Kentuckian Joel Johnson established Lakeport Plantation in 1831. His son, Lycurgus Johnson, took the reins in 1846. By 1856, the cotton market was providing well for southern plantation holders like Johnson. He built the large house on the property in 1859 and expanded the plantation to well over 4,000 acres by 1860. He also held 155 slaves.
The looming Civil War had other plans, however.
The Times, They Are A Changin’
Times were very hard for the South after the war. Planters were better off than most during Reconstruction, however, because they owned their land. Lakeport Plantation was even luckier than many. While others struggled to compete, Lakeport continued to be a major agricultural enterprise. In fact, by 1870 it was the largest remaining plantation in the county.
This success was due in large part to Johnson’s relationship with those who had been his slaves before Emancipation. Johnson successfully negotiated with these new “freedmen” and quickly developed a reputation among them as a fair and honest employer. The continued presence of an experienced work force familiar with the operations helped Lakeport to thrive.
Succeeding generations worked the land on into the 1970’s, when Lakeport was placed on the National Historic Register. In 2001, it was donated to Arkansas State University, who began an extensive renovation. The restored Lakeport Plantation house now serves as a museum and educational center.
The Lakeport Plantation house is 8,000 square feet with 17 rooms. Ten are on the main floor, including two parlors and the kitchen. The beautiful color scheme on the exterior is based upon the original colors. The house is an excellent example of classic Greek Revival architecture. It even features the traditional columns and a two-story portico.
Guided tours of Lakeport Plantation are an amazing experience. The plantation serves not only as a museum but also as a base for genealogy and heritage projects. Plantation archives actively preserve the history of the former planters and slaves that lived out their lives here.
No matter where you go during your Arkansas getaway, somewhere nearby, there’s an Arkansas bed and breakfast just waiting to show you some real southern hospitality. Comfy guestrooms, delicious breakfasts, and an insider’s knowledge of what there is to see and do in the area. Book your next stay at an Arkansas B&B!