On the banks of the Mississippi River lies the "White Castle". Built in 1859 by John Hampton Randolph, Nottoway is the largest antebellum plantation remaining in Louisiana.
John Randolph of Virginia moved his family to Louisiana where he purchased thousands of acres on which he planted sugar cane. He was very successful.
During the Civil War, he moved his slaves to Texas where he worked a cotton plantation. His wife and children stayed on the plantation. At one point in the Civil War, Nottoway was under severe attack by a gunboat. One of the officers realized he had been a guest at the plantation and halted the firing. When Mrs. Randolph complained of having no way to protect herself and her family, the Union soldier gave her his own silver-handled pistol.
Nottoway plantation has fifty rooms, two hundred windows, and 165 doors. There is one very large window in the main house which also serves as a door, opening onto a second-story balcony. The window slides up into the hanging, which provides a 5 ½ foot opening. During the day, most windows were kept open to help with ventilation.
Nottoway enjoyed comforts that few homes had at this time. There was a bathroom on not only the first floor but also the second floor. Copper pipes ran through the walls along the 16 fireplaces and brought warm water to the bathrooms. The house was so large that each room had a bell pull with its own distinct tone so that the slaves would know in which room they were wanted.
The children were kept very busy. Mr. Randolph taught the boys how to run the plantation. Mrs. Randolph kept the girls busy learning how to manage a plantation. Tutors came to the house and taught the children. The music master taught the girls how play the piano. They also learned math, writing, and French. Mr. Randolph had a ten pin bowling alley built for his eleven children. The bowling alley was on the ground floor.
Visiting the house today, one can find many reminders of the Randolphs. In room 2, which is in the girls' wing, there is a window with a name in it. After talking with a historian, I found out that the women would take their diamond and write their names in a window. If the diamond did not break or crack, that would show that their love was strong. Though I did not see her, there have been sightings of the ghost of Emily, the youngest Randolph daughter, walking through this room in a pink gown.
The Randolphs had eleven children, two boys and nine girls. During this period in history, girls were never without a chaperone. One devise for watching the girls while they entertained their male guests was the chaperone mirror. From any point in the room, the chaperone could look into it and see all activity taking place. A secret language was developed by women to communicate with men, the language of the fan.