Bartholomew Barrow purchased 867 acres of land in St. Francisville, Louisiana from his brother William Bartholomew in 1820 and lived on the plantation for almost twenty years. The house (then called Home Place) had columns and galleries and by 1860 Bartholomew Barrow was the wealthiest man in West Feliciana Parish. He sold the property to his son, David in 1839 together with 83 slaves. When David married his second wife, Susan he agreed to enlarge the house to her liking as long as the original house stayed in tact. She extended the house around the residence and began the creation of Afton Villa and gardens. She spent 8 years creating a 40-room Gothic revival mansion and elaborate gardens that stretched over 25 acres. The design of the L-shaped house was based on houses she had seen in France and once completed had fifteen bedrooms. The stucco exterior walls were sanded to resemble stone and embellished with carved cypress.
Although the Barrow family lived at Afton Villa throughout the civil war, after David Barrow’s death in 1874, Susan Barrow returned to her native Kentucky.
The property was restored several times only to be completely destroyed by fire in 1963.
You can read more about the history of Afton Villa here.
Today Genevieve Trimble owns Afton Gardens and has spent 40 years maintaining the formal gardens and used the remains of the original house to design a floral oasis amid the ruins.
We were fortunate to meet Genevieve Trimble who lives in New Orleans, but was at the gardens last week, and she, and her daughter showed us where parts of the house had originally stood. She said they had planted over 100,000 daffodil bulbs on the property (see the YouTube video below to see how glorious the gardens look in the spring).
There are few pictures of the original house, but you can see some here.