The Oakley plantation is very special and unique. Most people associate Oakley with John James Audubon, as he stayed there for almost four months to tutor Miss Eliza Pirrie, but the Oakley has much more to show then that.
Ruffin Gray, who died before the plantation was completed, built the plantation from 1795 to 1799. Oakley has a raised basement. It is also two stories tall and has an attic. A West Indies influence can be seen in the jaloused galleries. As a main crop the Oakley grew cotton. They tried to grow indigo but it didn't work out.
The Oakley had a lot of slaves. They treated them reasonably. Only a few slaves tried to run away, but when they did dogs were sent to find them. The slaves would be run up a tree, and would have to come down sometime. Now the Oakley has two slave houses that are not original.
A Scotch man, James Pirrie married Ruffin Gray's widow. The Pirrie's daughter, Eliza was tutored by John James Audubon. Audubon taught her unusual things by today's standards like; how to draw, paint, braid hair, and speak French. Although Eliza had many tutors, Audubon was the best known.
John James Audubon stayed at Oakley for three months and three weeks, during witch he did thirty-two of his best works. He is famous for these works. The Oakley is now the site of the Audubon Memorial State Park. The park is a 100-acre tract set aside as a wildlife sanctuary.
The residents of Oakley kept fire extinguishers in most rooms, especially the kitchen in case of fire. They had sand inside because it extinguished the fire faster then water. They also had a lot of candles. The slaves made 4-500 candles at a time and kept them in a box made of wood to keep bugs out of it, and metal to keep rodents out of it.
The Oakley is a very neat plantation. It was remembered as where Audubon stayed, but was and still is much more then that. From the slaves to the jaloused galleries the Oakley is very unique.