Centenary State Historic Site
3522 College St., Jackson, LA 70748
225-634-7925 or 888-677-2364 toll free
Directions: From Baton Rouge, take I-10 North to US 61, go north on US 61 toward St. Francisville. Turn right onto LA 68; turn left onto Hwy. 10. From St. Francisville, simply go east on LA 10 to the town of Jackson; turn left at the intersection of LA 10 and East College to reach Centenary. GPS Coordinates: N 30 50.4712, W 91 12.7877.
Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Guided tours are offered daily.
Entrance Fees: $4 per person; free for seniors (62 and over) and for children age 12 and under. Groups are asked to call in advance.
Trails at Centenary State Historic Site:
Originally opened as the College of Louisiana in 1826, the school occupied an old courthouse and other buildings in the town of Jackson. The college steadily grew and two dormitories were built on new property in 1832 and 1837. The West Wing, the latter of these two buildings, remains today.
After less than 20 years, the College of Louisiana closed because of declining enrollment. Suffering similar problems was the Methodist/Episcopal-operated Centenary College at Brandon Springs, Mississippi (established in 1839).
Centenary then moved to the vacant campus of the College of Louisiana. Since the all-male student bodies of the two institutions were effectively combined, the school succeeded with the name Centenary College of Louisiana now owned and operated by the Methodist/Episcopal Church South. At its peak, shortly before the Civil War, some 250 students and 11 faculty members occupied the campus.
The Civil War had a profound effect on Centenary College, as it did on most Southern colleges. The school closed for the duration of the war and its buildings were used by both Confederate and Union troops. The dormitories became hospital space in October 1862 and during the seige of Port Hudson in 1863 and Union troops used the Main Academic Building as an area headquarters.
Centenary College reopened after the war, but with repairs needed and low enrollment, it was unable to regain its former prosperity. In 1908, searching for a wider student population base, Centenary College moved to Shreveport, where it remains today. The Main Academic Building and the East Wing dormitory were demolished in the 1930s; only the West Wing and a professor's house still stand.
In 1979 Centenary State Historic Site was added to the National Register of Historic Places, an honorary designation for significant historic sites.
Audubon State Historic Site (South of St. Francisville on LA 965) - The nearly 200-year-old Oakley House is where John James Audubon drew inspiration and sketched many of the birds found in his famous Birds of America. The visitor may tour the house-turned-museum, formal gardens, an outside kitchen building and barns, walk the trails and enjoy a picnic lunch at the large pavilion nearby.
Port Hudson State Historic Site (US 61, 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge) - This 909-acre site encompasses part of the Port Hudson Battlefield Civil War Site. Featured are six miles of hiking trails, 11/2 miles of trenches, a museum and interpretive programs. Fort Desperate, a primary Confederate position, is accessible by a concrete walkway and elevated wooden boardwalks.
Locust Grove State Historic Site (4-1/2 miles northeast of St. Francisville on LA 10) - Visit the gravesites of Sarah Knox Taylor, wife of Jefferson Davis, and General Eleazor Ripley, distinguished soldier in the War of 1812.
Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site (South of Baton Rouge on Main Street/La. Hwy. 1 in downtown Plaquemine) - Completed in 1909 and used until 1962, the lock provided access from the Mississippi River to Bayou Plaquemine. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the site features the Gary James Hebert Memorial Lockhouse and is open for tours daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site (In St. Francisville on La. Hwy. 10) - Built during the 1830s, Rosedown had one of the largest private gardens in the U.S. in the 19th century. In addition to the gardens and many original structures, visitors can see many furnishings and items that the Turnbulls themselves brought into the main house.
Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area (14 miles northwest of St. Francisville on LA 66) - Day-hiking, wildlife viewing, birding and hunting (in season) are featured across 5,231 acres of rugged hills, bluffs and ravines.
Historic Town of St. Francisville (North of Baton Rouge on US 61) - The Historic District includes 140 structures encompassing churches, antebellum homes, townhomes, cemeteries, and dozens of antique and gift shops.
Historic Town of Jackson (North of St. Francisville on LA 10) - The Historic District covers two-thirds of the town and features more than 120 structures including banks, shops, homes, churches and warehouses.
Historic Town of Clinton (North of Baton Rouge via LA 67) - The town is known for its historic architecture, including Lawyers Row, the East Feliciana Parish Courthouse, and charming Victorian and antebellum homes.
Louisiana Scenic Bayou Byway - The Byway in this area takes you through some of the historic Florida Parishes in English Louisiana known for the British influence in their architecture and cultural traditions. Follow US 61 and historic LA 10 (once known as the Choctaw Trail) to quaint historic towns, charming bed and breakfasts, country drives, profuse native wildflowers in season, excellent birding, cycling and interesting antique shops.