Originally called the Bon Sèjour Plantation, Oak Alley Plantation was built by Jacques T. Roman on an existing farm and homesite. Roman built a Greek Revival mansion, thought to be designed by Joseph Pilié, on axis with an allée of mature oaks planted in the early 1700s. Today these trees are a signature feature of the plantation, an iconic, ¼-mile long shaded passage that stretches from the house to the River Road.
The plantation was laid out in a typical Louisiana Colonial manner. The mansion, or “Bighouse,” was located closest to the river in a square layout, while the overseer’s house, houses of the enslaved workers and sugar mill were behind the house nearer the sugar cane fields. Camellias, crepe myrtles, azaleas, and magnolias were planted around the mansion, while a teardrop-shaped drive marks the terminus of an extended, boxwood-lined oak allée approaching from the south. A more formal boxwood and lawn garden, circa 1927, occupies the place of a former kitchen garden to the east.
The plantation changed hands numerous times after 1866, and by the 1920s fell into disrepair. In 1925, it was purchased by Andrew and Josephine Stewart, and the mansion was restored with the help of architect Richard Koch. In 1972, the mansion and 25 acres passed to the Oak Alley Foundation, which continues its management and restoration today. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1974.