Imagine Dining at Oak Alley Plantation

As I wrote Our Tour of Oak Alley for Tuesday, the post became too long to share in one piece.  After breaking the post apart, I included the sugarcane farming information in yesterday’s What’s Blooming Wednesday #20. 

Today we see the dining details I saved for this post.

Oak Alley Plantation

With my phone battery nearly depleted before our tour, I grabbed only a few photos.  There are more details I wish I’d captured, but we’ll just have to improvise.

In the dining room, our 16-year-old guide, Hannah, explained how they placed a block of ice in the center of the table under the fan.

Tour Guide

As the fan moved above the ice, the ice-cooled air was swept through the room.  Genius!

HH and I later discussed the ice factor.  How did they get it, and where did they keep it?  HH, the lover of all things history, said huge blocks were delivered by riverboat from the North.

They pulled the ice by wagon to the plantation site and lowered it into the ground – often in the floor of the plantation ice house.  They covered it completely to keep it solid.  As ice was needed, chunks were sawed off and carried into the house.

While standing next to a dining room window, I turned to inspect the window treatment fabrics (a trade habit).  The lace sheers look more Antebellum or Victorian with this added pom-pom trim sewn onto the edge.  So simple to do!

Lace Sheers and Trim

If you can sew a straight line, you can do this!  (Even hot glue would work.)

The same goes for adding elaborate fringes to velvet drapes.

Velvet Drapes with Fringe

Looking closely at the table, notice the minimal decor.  No linens.  I’m sure at the time,  these fine china settings were extravagant.

table Setting

If we created a tablescape for this table, how different it would look!  We would add a tablecloth, place mats, chargers, cloth napkins, and layers of plates.  And, don’t forget ornate napkin rings!

Hannah explained what was hiding under the hanky.

Bug Trap and Hanky

A clear glass jar similar to my wasp trap was used to trap bugs while dining.  Their version has longer legs on the bottom to hold it away from the tabletop.  It works exactly like this one.  Pour honey or syrup into the top to attract the bugs.  The liquid runs down the sides into the trough, bugs fly into the hole on the under side, and they can’t fly out.

Bee Trap on Porch

Mine had several dead wasps in the trough, so inside it went – to clean it out.

I placed it on my table to get a feel for the times.  Since their bug jar was clear, they could easily see dead bugs inside while dining.  Yuck!

Bug Trap

Of course they covered the clear trap with a cloth.

Ahhh…much better!

Cloth-Covered Bug Trap

I hope that helps give you a better idea of the Oak Alley version.

As everyone left the room, I lagged behind to get a clear shot of the room – and window treatments, of course.

Dining Room Fan

Notice another bug jar at this opposite end of the table.

2nd Bug Jar

Did you enjoy our peek into dining ways of the past?  Are you tempted to dress this table – in our current ways of layering?

As I researched the history of ice, I found a wonderfully informative article here.

Thank you for joining me at Oak Alley today!







I’m sharing this post at Tablescape Thursday.  Follow the link for lots of fun!


  1. Anna Starner says

    I’m sure one of the reasons for not using a tablecloth and fabric napkins was the laundering of them. Think how much work would have gone into washing.drying and pressing table linens back then.

  2. says

    I would not have wanted to be the one to lug that big block of ice from the boat to the ice house, saw it off and carry it into the house OR keep that fan moving to keep everyone cool!!! What a monumental chore all of that must have been! I feel more sorry for that dude than the ladies in their long, hot dresses! 🙂

    It’s cool to see what may have been considered chic for dining in those days. The bug trap…not so chic, but necessary, I’m sure. That would be a great idea for dining outdoors these days, and it looks like you’ve got that covered…literally and figuratively! 🙂 Your lacy covering is a beaut!

    I love the size of that dining room. Oh, how I wish!!! Maybe in my next life!

    Glad you had fun! Thanks for sharing the experience, and have a great weekend!
    Alycia Nichols recently posted…Most Egg-cellent Fall BreakfastMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you! And, thanks for the laugh, Alycia. I wish I’d asked about the length of the dining table – and the name of the china pattern. Just gives me a reason to return! In the article of the ice link, they talked about how many people were injured (and killed) when dealing with ice. The saw alone would be a danger to me!