Nestled on the banks of the Cane River, Natchitoches (pronounced NAK-i-tush) is perhaps the most beautiful inland town in Louisiana. Founded in 1714 as a French colonial settlement, it boasts brick streets, venerable architecture, and a charming ambiance that draw visitors from around the world. Nearby, a magnificent plantation country and the multicultural Creole community of Isle Brevelle amplify the area’s allure. This stunning gallery of photographs by Philip Gould, along with edifying articles, documents the varying cultures of the Cane River region, one of the state’s oldest and most historically French areas.
The book opens with a look at Natchitoches proper and its breathtaking architectural gems, including stately churches and elegant homes. Gould also captures the life pulsing behind these impressive facades. A blues band performs its monthly gig at Roque’s Grocery. A child prepares to be baptized in the Cane River. A young couple celebrates their marriage in high style. Through Gould’s lens and an enlightening history by Richard Seale, Natchitoches yesterday and today comes alive.
The regal residences and faded communities that lie beyond Natchitoches are remnants of a once bustling plantation economy. Accompanied by revealing commentary from Robert DeBlieux, Gould trains his talented eye on the majestic estates of Oakland, Magnolia, Oaklawn, Cherokee, Beaufort, and Melrose plantations and on the tiny town of Cloutierville, once home to writer Kate Chopin. The book also spotlights the nearby Creole settlement of Isle Brevelle, which dates back to the area’s colonial period. Gould celebrates the music, food, folklore, architecture, and landscape of this vibrant multiethnic community — which originated with a French planter and a former slave. Harlan Mark Guidry, one of the many descendants of Isle Brevelle now living throughout the United States, narrates the story of this unique cultural treasure.
Natchitoches and Louisiana’s Timeless Cane River offers passage through an extraordinary world where people, heritage, and history are inseparably intertwined. Natives and tourists alike will relish the journey.
Philip Gould is a freelance documentary/architecture photographer born in Massachusetts and raised in California’s Bay Area who has made Louisiana his home and favorite subject since 1974. His photographs have been published in over a dozen books as well as periodicals from around the world.
New Orleans writer Jason Berry has published four previous books, including the award-winning Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children and Up from the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music Since World War II. The recipient of an Alicia Patterson Fellowship in journalism, he has produced television documentaries and has lectured on many campuses.
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