Rosedown’s History

The history of Rosedown began in 1828 when Daniel Turnbull wed Martha Barrow of Highland Plantation. Both were from socially prominent and wealthy families of West Feliciana Parish. Construction began on the main house in November 1834. The house was constructed using cypress and cedar. Daniel had an onsite sawmill and a slave workforce of about 450 responsible for building the house at so little expense. In just six short months, at a cost of just over 13 thousand dollars, the house was completed in spring 1835.

Over the course of Daniel and Martha’s married lives, they had 3 children at Rosedown; William, Sarah and James Daniel. They would unfortunately lose both of their sons. Their youngest son, James Daniel, died at age 7 from yellow fever. Their eldest son, William, though he did marry and have 2 sons of his own, died at age 27 in a boating accident while crossing the Old River. This left their daughter Sarah as their only remaining heir.

In the 1857, at the age of 26, Sarah married a local boy, James P. Bowman from the nearby Oakley Plantation. Since Sarah and James would be inheriting Rosedown, they moved into the mansion following their wedding. The couple had 10 children—8 girls and 2 boys. Of these 8 daughters, 4 would never marry. Sarah and James were very concerned about the futures of their unmarried daughters, so they decided to leave Rosedown to those four daughters. The last of these daughters died in 1955, at which time the plantation was placed up for sale.

Rosedown was purchased in the spring of 1956 by a couple from Houston, Texas—Milton Underwood and his wife Catherine Fondren-Underwood. Catherine was an oil heiress and they spent the next 8 years, and approximately 10 million dollars of their money, having the plantation fully restored. She and Milton opened Rosedown to the public in 1964 and the Underwood family maintained Rosedown as a tourist site until 1994, when it was sold by their son David, to a businessman from Georgia. The Georgia owner sold Rosedown to the state of Louisiana in the year 2000.

Rosedown is now a Louisiana State Historic under the state park system site and a National Landmark. The site is an ongoing research project and information is continuously being updated.

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