The prominent French Louisiana family of Emmanuel Marius Pons Bringier practiced an interesting tradition. They gave a plantation, complete with manor house, as a wedding present to each child. The Hermitage was one of those presents.
Michel Doradou Bringier, one of Emmanuel Bringier’s sons, married Louise Elizabeth Aglae duBourg de Sainte-Colombe in 1812. She was fourteen years old when she married, was born in Jamaica, and was educated in Baltimore by nuns. She was also the niece of the Bishop of New Orleans, Louis William Valentin duBourg.
The War of 1812 took Michel Doradou away from the plantation. He nobly served with General Andrew Jackson and returned in 1815, at about the time construction was being completed on his manor house. He named it The Hermitage after General Jackson’s Tennessee home, to honor his much-admired commander. To his French Louisiana relatives and neighbors, the home, of course, immediately became “l’Hermitage.”
Elizabeth outlived Doradou by thirty years; he died in 1847. She had grown from a child bride to a self- confident plantation mistress, managing the business successfully through the Civil War times. The house was fired upon by Federal troops but survived intact, being hit by only one cannonball.
After the war, Louis Bringier, one of Michel and Elizabeth’s sons who had served as a Confederate army colonel, took over the plantation’s operation. Against all odds and with the help of Some of the former slaves who now worked as free persons, he successfully produced profitable sugarcane.
Eventually Duncan Kenner of Ashland, who had married into the Bringier family acquired the property. In the 1880′s it was acquired by the Maginnis family, then by the Duplessis family, then by the LaSalle family, and in 1959 by Dr. and Mrs. Robert C. Judice of New Orleans. The Judices have completed a faithful and beautiful restoration.
Designed with splendid simplicity The Hermitage is built of thick “brick-between-post” construction and smoothed over with plaster. Massive Doric columns and wide galleries sweep around the house. Two dormer windows are perched on a typical hipped roof. The interior is beautifully furnished with decor and furniture in the pre-Civil War style.
Evidence suggest that the house had been remodeled in 1849, probably by the noted New Orleans architect James Gallier Sr. The encircling galleries originally had brick pillows below and wooden colonettes above, typical of the time of its construction. They were replaced by the well-proportioned pillars as seen today.
The Hermitage is open by appointment for group tours. For more information on The Hermitage Plantation visit the Hotel Monteleone.