The Shadows-on-the-Teche reopened for tours on Sat., Oct. 16, 2021 with a new and improved tour program that includes a variety of viewpoints to tell a more complete story of the site.
Since closing in March 2020 due to the coronavirus, Shadows' staff was busy behind the scenes researching, addressing delayed maintenance issues and applying for grants to help better fulfill their mission.
They revisited the Weeks Family Papers, primary documents that provide a peek into the daily life of those living and working at the Shadows, searching for new stories to tell.
A few grant awards allowed the opportunity to bring in outside scholars, researchers and experts to build on previous research.
New Tour Sources:
Professor Kenetha Harrington, previous National Trust intern at Shadows and doctoral candidate at Louisiana State University, helped to provide regional, national, and international context for historical events happening in New Iberia, conduct additional research connecting enslaved people to descendants and more deeply explore the African American experience at Shadows.
Dr. Phebe Hayes, founder and President of The Iberia African American Historical Society, provided valuable insight in examining how events in New Iberia and Iberia Parish affected life for those living and working here. The site also established a small, diverse working group of educators, historians, professors, and community leaders to provide much-needed feedback on the materials being developed, research directions and insight into forming stronger connections with the entire community.
Through working with these scholars, they have had the opportunity to see the Shadows from a variety of viewpoints, and have a new appreciation of how different the Shadows is in comparison to other sites.
The house itself is an anomaly for it is neither a plantation nor a townhouse, but something in between. The central figures of the home’s story were women, not men. Mary Weeks took on an active role in the operation of the plantation after her husband’s death. Louisa O’Brien, the enslaved housekeeper, oversaw the day-to-day operations at Shadows. Charlotte, a single woman, successfully sought freedom and was never recaptured. Charity, a skilled seamstress, is one of six women, white and black, who resided at Shadows during Union occupation on the eve of emancipation.
"It is the stories of these remarkable women we choose to tell first entering this new phase," said Jayd Buteaux, Shadows marketing and programs manager. "As research continues and we look beyond our fence to explore the connections between people and places, we will have the opportunity to share a more vibrant history of New Iberia and the surrounding communities. This is only the beginning."
A writing workshop about the African American experience
About the Shadows-on-the-Teche:
The Shadows-on-the-Teche, National Trust for Historic Preservation site, opened to the public in 1961 with the mission to preserve the buildings, landscape, collections, and historical integrity of the site; to research and interpret through education programs a 19th century southern Louisiana plantation economy and community and their evolution; and to encourage an appreciation of and interest in historic preservation. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns and operates the Shadows-on-the-Teche, is a private, non-profit organization.
The Shadows does not receive funding from federal, state, parish, or city government. The site supports itself through admissions, special programs and events, and donations to the Friends of the Shadows. For more information, visit ShadowsOnTheTeche.org.
For more information please contact Jayd Buteaux at (337) 369-6446 or by email.
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