Bocage translates to Shady Retreat. The plantation home was built in 1801 by I Marius Pons Bringier as a wedding gift to his daughter Francoise and her husband Cristophe Colomb, an alleged descendant of the famous explorer. Bringier, head of the wealthy and powerful Bringier family, owned several plantations along the Mississippi River in South Louisiana.
Francoise, at the time of her wedding, was only fourteen years old; her husband Cristophe was thirty-one. Cristophe was quite a remarkable character: He was invalved in the French Revolution and escaped from his native country to flee the guillotine. His departure reportedly led him to his uncle’s island plantation in Santo Domingo, where a slave uprising forced him to flee again – this time to Philadelphia and then on to a French Louisiana.
Cristophe and Francoise’s relationship was very unusual for the time, but it was harmonious. Fanny, as she was popularly known, had inherited the Bringier aptitude for business, and ran the plantation. Cristophe’s talents, however, were in the arts: He was an accomplished singer, musician, poet, and dancer. The usual roles were thus reversed in this marriage. Fanny directed I the work in the cane fields and sugar mills, while her husband wrote poetry and entertained at their social gatherings. He even had a fancy boat built for himself, with a silken canopy and friezing on the sails. His slaves rowed the boat along the bayous and waterways, taking Cristophe to relatives and friends.
The two-story house itself is almost square, constructed of wood on the upper level and brick on the lower level. Its front gallery is supported by six large square pillars and a pair of smallish pillars at the center, forming a novel facade. A high entablature with Empire details hides the roof and most of the chimneys. After a fire in the late 1830s Bocage was extensively remodeled, emphasizing Greek Revival and Empire detailing. Bocage and many of its counterparts fell to decay and abandon after the Civil War. It was rescued by Drs. E. G. and Anita Crozat Kohlsdorf, who restored the home and gardens to their former glory. Their restoration included furnishing the house with elegant antiques. Mr. and Mrs. Richard Genre are the present owners; Mrs. Genre . is the niece of the late Anita Crozat Kohlsdorf.
For years the house has been open to plantation tours by appointment. It is located about two miles north of Burnside along the east bank of the Mississippi.
For more information on the Bocage Plantation visit the Hotel Monteleone.