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 Maison Chenal, Pat and Jack Holdens’ main residence, was originally part of Poydras Plantation, owned by politician and philanthropist Julien Poydras. The main living area or salon is outfitted with a Creole-style mix of modest and elegant furnishings, most crafted in Louisiana. “Louisiana had that sort of French attitude: ‘We want to make it, but we want to keep our cultural sensibilities,’” Pat says.
of Maison Chenal overlooks a formal parterre garden with geometric-shaped beds divided by gravel paths. This style of garden was popular in both rural and urban Louisiana in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and the Holdens have planted it with shrubs and flowers true to the period, including privet hedges, sago palms, and imported French roses. “In France, these gardens were very controlled and orderly, but in Louisiana, the climate and soil produced something different,” Pat says. “It goes back to the Creole concept—that juxtaposition of finery with rustic.”
In the home’s rear, the gardens take a more utilitarian form, with rosemary and lemon verbena sharing space with hydrangeas and a muscadine vine-covered arbor. Behind the LaCour House, a picket-fenced vegetable and herb garden holds tabasco peppers and indigo.
“We like to emphasize the early crops and plants,” Jack says. “We have a great deal of materials from the 18th and early 19th centuries that talk about what these gardens would have had in them.”
Their willingness to so fully immerse themselves in Louisiana’s past has given both Jack and Pat the status of celebrated authorities in the preservationist realm. Pat was one of the authors of the New Orleans Architecture series of scholarly books. Jack co-wrote Furnishing Louisiana: Creole and Acadian Furniture, 1735-1835. Their homestead was featured in the 2012 book New Roads and Old Rivers: Louisiana’s Historic Pointe Coupee Parish. They shrug off the accolades, though, and profess that this is simply a “hobby that turned into a passion.”
“It’s just been a great deal of fun,
and it’s been really gratifying,” Pat says.
The couple has welcomed historians and scholars from around the country to their home, and elementary classes from their grandchildren’s Baton Rouge schools have traipsed through as well. Researchers have studied the Holdens’ collections of Acadian weaving and Louisiana silver, and Hickory Chair Furniture Company copied one of their antique beds years ago.
When anyone visits, Pat says she makes certain to share with them the true significance of the items she and Jack have made their life’s work of saving.
“We don’t like these old things because we think the old days were better,” she says. “You need old things to remind you that you’re part of a continuum. All of those old things remind you that those people made a difference, and you are also supposed to do something that matters for the future.”
The rear gallery of Maison Chenal is seen from the porch of the kitchen building.

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