«Do you know about this famous building, which is deserted and abandoned now? The history of what’s happened to it?»😟

Belle Grove, also called Belle Grove Plantation, was a grand plantation estate in the Italianate and Greek Revival styles located in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, close to White Castle. When it was finished in 1857, it surpassed the size of the nearby Nottoway, which is currently recognized as the largest antebellum plantation home still standing in the South, to become one of the biggest mansions ever constructed in the Southern United States. The stone building was 62 feet (19 meters) high, 122 feet (37 meters) wide, and 119 feet (36 meters) deep. It included 75 rooms—including a prison cell—spread over four stories.


John Andrews was a rich Virginian sugar grower who owned Belle Grove. He possessed more than 7,000 acres (2,800 hectares) divided among many plantations, with 3.4 miles (1.2 km) of river frontage at Belle Grove. In the 1830s, he and Dr. John Phillip Read Stone cofounded Belle Grove. Following the dissolution of the partnership in 1844, Andrews became the sole owner.

By the 1850s, over 150 individuals, the majority of whom were slaves, were producing more than 500,000 pounds of sugar annually. Andrews spent eighty thousand dollars building the home between 1852 and 1857. Henry Howard, an architect from New Orleans, created the home. John Randolph, the proprietor of Nottoway Plantation, and Andrews were embroiled in a fabled rivalry.


After the American Civil War and the plantation economy collapsed, Andrews sold the house and plantation to Zane Heller in 1868 for a pitiful $50,000 (~$953,744 in 2023). After 65 years of ownership and operation by Ware and his ancestors, the plantation was finally purchased by two of his sons, James Andrew Ware and John M. Ware. John married Marie-Louise Dupré, a relative of previous Louisiana governor Jacque Dupré, while James married Mary Eliza Stone. For the next four generations, the name Marie-Louise was given to each first-born girl.


In the end, Dixon Grove Plantation was held by John and Marie-Louise, and the entire estate was purchased by James and Mary Eliza Stone. In 1924, following several years of agricultural failures, John Ware and his wife departed.

The exquisitely designed house in Belle Grove began to deteriorate in the harsh post-war climate of Louisiana. One wing was destroyed by a roof leak that spread due to neglect. The house was bought by several people, all of whom intended to repair it, but none of them had the resources during the hard times of World War II and the Great Depression to halt the house’s gradual deterioration. The home was destroyed during the night by an unexplained fire.

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