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Acadia Acquired - Friday, October 3, 2003
Two local businessmen finalized the purchase of more than 3,300 acres of property commonly referred to as Acadia Plantation this week.

Acadia Agricultural Holdings LLC, a private company chartered Aug. 20 by businessmen Ronald J. Adams and Jacob A. Giardina, finalized the deal that has been several months in the making Tuesday.

The transactions included land owned by Plater-Acadia LLC, with managers Bryan B. Plater and Elizabeth Plater Cropp; Acadia Hale LLC, whose sole member is R. Walter Hall III; Acadia Hoyt LLC, whose sole member is Nancy Hale Hoyt; and Acadia Hill LLC, whose sole member is Vianda Hale Hill.

The land sale comprises Acadia, St. Brigitte and Evergreen plantations, which are located on the eastern side of Thibodaux and extend southward across La. 24 near Gray. The tract includes land in both Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes.

Local lawyers Harold Block and Richard J. Bouterie Jr. of Block and Bouterie, in a press release Thursday evening acknowledged that their firm represented Acadia Agricultural Holdings in the transaction while Michael Schneider of New Orleans represented the members of the Plater Family.

The transaction includes the property and all buildings and improvements, along with all rights-of-way, privileges and servitudes. It also includes the Plantation house at 918 E. First St. in Thibodaux.

The transaction represents the transfer of thousands of acres of property that has been owned by the Plater Family for more than 125 years.

Since 1875, Acadia Plantation has been owned and operated by members of the Plater and Hale families, including former U.S. Rep. Edward J. Gay and Andrew Price.

David Plater, spokesman for the Plater and Hale families and the former plantation administration, stated in the press release that his family's desire to keep the property locally owned was a reason for selling it now.

' Our family members now are scattered throughout the country. They agreed that the plantation, the ownership and management of which has been deeply rooted in the local community for so long, should continue to be owned locally,' Plater said. 'Jake and Ronald are outstanding citizens, proven leaders and skilled businessmen of the Lafourche and Terrebonne communities whom we know will contribute greatly to the area through their ownership and management of the plantation.'

The Acadia Plantation home site features an unusual number of 19th and early 20th century buildings still in use. It is included on the prestigious National Register of Historic Properties.
The house site once was the home of Jim Bowie, famed for his part in the defense of the Alamo, and his brothers and later of Philip Barton Key, a nephew of Francis Scott Key, and Andrew Jackson Donelson, a nephew of Rachel Donelson Jackson.

During the Civil War, in 1862-1863, the houses, yards and pastures were occupied by Union Army forces, which established Camp Stevens on the site.

The Acadia Sugar Factory operated in the middle of the plantation from the early 1850s until 1926, and the farmland has been under tenancy since the 1930s and mainly farmed for sugarcane.

Acadia Dairy was established behind the home in the 1880s and operated there until the 1940s. Nicholls State University also occupies land that once was part of the plantation.
The home site was created from several Acadian cottages in the late 1880s, and renovated shortly thereafter into its present Queen Anne style appearance.

Block said the present 'big house,' which is included in the sale, is leased by the former owners, some of whom will continue to live there.

In the press release, the new owners said they have no immediate plans to develop or to sell portions of the plantation.

' We purchased the plantation as a long-term investment,' Adams said. 'Thibodaux and the north Lafourche and Terrebonne markets are growing though, and a good place for investment.'
Adams and Giardina have extensive backgrounds in agriculture and will continue the current agricultural use on the farm portions, they said.

Although the new owners have not disclosed any plans for the property, Nicholls officials earlier this year acknowledged that the school is looking to expand and is working to purchase additional land.

Michael Davis, assistant vice president for business affairs at Nicholls, said the university has been negotiating to purchase land adjacent to the university.

' We obviously have plans to expand and the only way to expand is by purchasing additional land,' he said. 'We can't do anything until the land is purchased and we know what we have.'
Davis said the land the university is working to purchase does not include the Acadian Plantation house itself.

' The house is not a part of what we want at this time,' he said. 'The property includes three plantations and approximately 3,400 acres. We hope to be able to purchase 160-180 acres of the property from the private individuals ...'

Davis said the Board of Regents has already allocated $2.5 million to purchase the land. However, he said, additional funding is also being sought.

' We have the $2.5 million now, but we would have to get the property appraised, get a survey done, an environmental impact and all the normal things a public entity has to do to get the property,' he said. 'Legally we can only purchase property at the appraised value.'

Davis said the university's efforts to obtain the land would not take place immediately.

' All of this is a few months down the road,' he said. 'This is an ongoing process that is going to take some time.'

By Eloria Newell James - Staff Writer
The Daily Comet - 12:11PM
Eloria Newell James can be reached at 448-7639 or by e-mail at eloria.james@dailycomet.com.




 

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