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Zemurray Gardens Lodge Complex

Zemurray Gardens is not only renowned for its scenic gardens and fountains, but is also locally significant architecturally.

Photo Credit - Lagniappe Tours, Foundation for Historical Louisiana

Zemurray Gardens, with its flowers, fountains, statues, woods, lakes, and unusual buildings, stand as one of the notable scenic attractions of Louisiana. The land now occupied by Zemurray Gardens was one of the earliest settled areas in what is now Tangipahoa Parish and was originally settled by Thomas Joiner sometime in the 1790s.

In 1828, Alfred Hennen purchased 1280 acres and built a house here the following year. By 1860, Hennen was the third largest rice producer in Louisiana, and owned over 100 slaves. After his death in 1870, his daughter, Cora, wife of John A. Morris, the major financial backer of the Louisiana Lottery, purchased the plantation.

The Lake Superior Piling Company of Chicago, of which Charles H. Houlton was president, bought the property from the Morris heirs in 1918. Houlton and his brother William made extensive improvements to the buildings, adding the colonnades and interior redecorating that give the main buildings of the estate their unique architectural character.

The estate was then given the name "Houltonwood." However, the Zemurray Gardens and Lodge Complex take their name from Samuel Zemurray, a Russian Jewish immigrant who made his fortune in America from the banana trade with Central America. He sold his successful fruit company in 1929 for $33,000,000 to the United Fruit Company, a year after he had purchased the "Houltonwood" estate.

After making his millions Zemurray became a noted philanthropist and expanded Zemurray Gardens, which began in 1922. A trail of azaleas cuts through the forest of magnolias, cypress, poplars, gum and oaks.

The path, which also boasts camellias, irises, daffodils, dogwoods, honeysuckles, marigolds and yellow poplars, goes around Mirror Lake, where cast bronze statues stand reminiscent of the great gardens of an earlier epoch.

Photo credit - Lagniappe Tours, Foundation for Historical Louisiana

Zemurray Gardens is not only renowned for its scenic gardens and fountains, but is also locally significant architecturally. The lodge complex forming the main building on the grounds has an interior designed in the Arts and Crafts style of the early 1900s by distinguished New Orleans architect Moise H. Goldstein.

Some of the decorating and architectural features characteristic of this movement, like wainscoting, medieval-looking beamed ceilings, the inglenook, and the Craftsman styled staircase are all present in the one-and-a-half-story gable-end house with the log cabin recreation room that serves as the main building. There are few if any surviving examples of the Arts and Crafts style found in Louisiana's Florida Parishes, making those within the Zemurray Gardens Lodge Complex truly unique.

The Zemurray Gardens Lodge Complex is located along State Hwy 40 in Loranger, 1.7 miles east of State Hwy 455. The gardens are open from 10:00am to 6:00pm March through mid-April; there is a fee for admission. Call 985-878-2284 for further information.

Information provided by National Parks Service