The History of Rosale Plantation
The Rosale Plantation is one of West Feliciana’s most historic houses. Historians believe it to be the place where in June 1810 more than 500 local residents gathered to organize the West Florida Rebellion.
The property on which Rosale is located came through a Spanish land grant in 1795 to Alexander Stirling, one of Feliciana's most important settlers. He named the plantation Egypt. Stirling’s daughter, Ann Stirling Skillman, acquired the property in 1820 and changed the name to China Lodge. Ann and her husband set about building a magnificent brick house on the property, but in 1844, faced with financial reverses, they were forced to sell the plantation to Robert Hilliard Barrow and his wife, Mary.
Robert Hilliard Barrow, Jr., of Rosale, from a portrait painted on his honeymoon in Philadelphia by Thomas Sully in 1844
Mary Eliza Barrow, wife of Robert Hilliard Barrow, Jr., and daughter of David Barrow of Afton Villa, from a portrait by Thomas Sully painted in 1844
Eliza Pirrie Barrow, mother of Robert Hilliard Barrow and resident of Oakley Plantation of West Feliciana.
The name of the plantation was especially important to Robert and Mary Barrow, the longest owners of Rosale Plantation. When the Barrows established the plantation in 1845, they changed the name to Rosale, an Indian word meaning “garden of roses.” The Barrows planted a decorative rose garden in front of the house and lined the alleé with 96 live oaks, some of which remain today. This was a very symbolic gesture honoring the passion of the people of West Feliciana and timelessness of the plantation. In fact, the Barrows extended the Rosale name beyond the plantation to a military company formed by Barrows at the outbreak of the Civil War, which he called the Rosale Guards. The Rosale Guards later became part of the 11th Louisiana Infantry Regiment.
Barrow and his family were living at Rosale in the 1880s when a fire destroyed the brick home and several outbuildings. Near the home was a frame schoolhouse, originally built around 1832 to house the carpenters working on the brick mansion. The Barrows moved into the old schoolhouse and sometime later moved it to the site of the brick mansion where they built the present house around it. The study, dining room, stair hall and two bedrooms upstairs are the remains of the old schoolhouse. Other original features of the property include the cypress ceiling gazebo, which served as an ornate wellhouse. It too survived the fire and is the only architectural indication of what the original mansion looked like.
The property was ultimately acquired by one of Louisiana’s most distinguished citizens, Gen. Robert H. Barrow, the 27th commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and great-grandson of Rosale’s first Robert Hilliard Barrow. General Barrow and his wife, Patty, both now deceased, modernized the home and preserved the gardens.
Preserving the Heritage
St. Francisville is our home. We grew up here and love plantation life in Louisiana. Our vision for Rosale Plantation is to help preserve the heritage of the name and the place, and an important part of Louisiana culture. We honor its past and ensure its future by restoring not just the architecture and property, but the history, meaning and the place that is Rosale Plantation.
The gazebo, called the Summer House, is the only part of the original plantation house that survived a fire in the 1880s.
Majestic live oaks line the property around Rosale Plantation.
Peter and Lynda Truitt stand in the central hallway of their Rosale Plantation home.