A Sweet Retreat
Sugar descendent brings his own brand of style to family’s cane country home
When Peter Patout needs a break from the bustle of his home in New Orleans’ French Quarter, he returns to his Patoutville roots. There, nestled among fields of cane that have fueled the family’s sugar business for nearly two centuries, sits a house built in 1925 by Patout’s grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Ory Patout.
Patout inherited the 3,000-square-foot home and its contents from a cousin about a decade ago.
“He knew I was interested in architecture and that putting it in my hands would be the best thing he could do for the house,” says Patout.
According to Patout, a realtor who specializes in historic properties as well as Louisiana art and architecture, the home’s Mediterranean revival design is a rarity in Bayou Teche country. Along with its red cement tile roof and stucco exterior, the structure incorporates Colonial revival and arts and crafts elements with a screened-in porch and Doric columns.
Since taking ownership, Patout has pursued a careful restoration, stripping away layers of linoleum to reveal heart pine flooring, rewiring the nearly century-old light fixtures and installing a shower to complement the 1920s bathtub.
The screened-in porch, once used for sleeping, has become one of Patout’s favorite spots. There he might start his day sipping café au lait from a Blue Willow transfer print cup.
“The porch I did on the last leg, but I should have done that first,” says Patout. “It’s such a lovely place to relax.”
The home’s three generations of decorative arts include items such as Mrs. Ory Patout’s settee, still upholstered in its original fabric, and an heirloom “Remember the Maine” shadowbox that Patout recalls enjoying as a child. Patout continues to incorporate pieces from his own collection of Louisiana antiques as well.
The house is located next to Enterprise Plantation, which Patout’s ancestors established in 1832. The plantation now houses the family-owned corporation M.A. Patout and Son, which according to Patout is the oldest sugar plantation on the North American continent still owned and operated by the same family.
“You can see the sugar mill from the front porch, bellowing steam,” says Patout. “It operates 24 hours a day, an energetic entity that’s part of my visual.”
The ancestral thread extends to Patout’s garden, lush with his grandmother’s roses and heirloom plants transferred from his mother’s home in Jeanerette. As with the rest of the property, the garden brings in hints of Patout’s contemporary existence, like the night blooming jasmine he transplanted from New Orleans.
“Around the porch at night in the summer, you get that whiff,” says Patout. “It’s kind of wonderful.”