Nottoway also referred to as the “American Castle” is the largest of the existing plantation homes, was built in 1857 near Bayou Goula on the west bank of the Mississippi. Nottoway has sixty-fIve rooms and almost 65,000 square feet!
In 1841, John Hampton Randolph, a descenqant of a famous Virginia family, left Woodville, Mississippi, to build this huge dwelling. The empire of plantations he created eventually amounted to more than 7,odo sugarcane-producing acres.
Randolph and his wife had eleven children, eight girls and three boys, making them known for their large family as well as the vast sugarcane operation. A large family required a house of suitable size, and the affluent planter began work on Nottoway by soliciting designs from the prominent architects of the day.
The winning proposal came from the distinguished New Orleans architect Henry Howard, who designed Madewood in Napoleonville and many other notable structures. Randolph liked this plan, a magnificent Italianate, primarily because it was quite different from the Greek Revival mansions Randolph’s fellow planters were building.
Nottoway has a large stucco-covered brick basement supporting two main stories. Twenty-one tall, squarish columns support iron-railed galleries on the first and second level. A tall entablature almost completely hides the hipped roof. Two grand, curved stairways rise from the front entrance. Nottoway boasts of some imposing interior furnishings: 200 large windows, some with curved glass; large stately doors with hand-painted door knobs and sterling silver hardware; and the large, first-level, sinuous ballroom finished completely in white, including mantles, chandeliers, Corinthian columns, and even the floor! The beautiful room served its purpose well: Seven of Randolph’s eight daughters married, their weddings occurring in the famous white ballroom. Other notable features in Nottoway were running water and indoor bathrooms on each floor! The fireplaces burned gas manufactured on the plantation site.
The house and family survived the Civil War, but after the death of Mr. Randolph in 1887, Mrs. Randolph sold Nottoway to Dr. W. G. Owen. An Owen descendant recently sold the house to Arlin K. Dease, the same gentleman who restored Mount Hope and The Myrtles. Dease immediately began to restore the home and opened it to the public for the first time in 1981, offering overnight accommodations. Dease has since sold the house to the present owners who continue to operate Nottoway as a house and museum with bed and breakfast accommodations and catering services for almost any event.
For more information read the Hotel Monteleone’s listing of the Nottoway Plantation Restaurant & Inn.