At the intersection of MacArthur Drive and Bayou Rapides in
Alexandria, the magnificent structure is known as the Kent House.
Even if it were not unique in having survived the combined
devastation of time and the Civil War, it would be remarkable for
its architectural worth. The house is regarded as the oldest
standing structure in Central Louisiana and is a fine example of
eighteenth-century rural Louisiana plantation architecture. Built
between 1796 and 1800 by Pierre Baillio, the house was a more
simple structure than we see today. Subsequently the nineteenth-
century owners added rooms and refinements for style and
Both in plan and construction, Kent House is a fine example of French and Spanish colonial architecture. The house is constructed as a raised cottage with the living quarters well above ground on brick piers. Heavy cypress timbers form the framework which is held together with wooden pegs, many of which are seen ion the exterior. The walls of the house are completed by filling the spaces between the timbers with a mixture of mud, moss, or deer hair, called 'bousillage'. Where protected from the rain by the galleries, the exterior walls are finished only with a thin coating of plaster or layers of linewish, either white or colored. Exterior walls are covered with wide feather-edged boards to preserve the bousillage.
Materials used in building the house were taken directly from the land itself. One of the main attractions of bousillage was its ready availability since mud was always at hand, moss taken from the trees felled for building purposes, and hair obtainable from the many deer hunted in the forest. Native clay baked in the sun, provided the rose-colored bricks, and timbers for beams, pillars, and floors were cut from trees felled on site.
There were always outbuildings on a plantation to support necessary work and to house plantation workers. ken House features a group of such structures typical of the times: a Milk House (c. 1820) of timber frame construction fastened with pegs; a carriage house; a plantation kitchen; and a worker's cabin of the pre-Civil War period of "briquette entre poteaux" (brick between post) construction.
( Histories of Louisiana Fairs, Festivals, and Historical Places , Book 2, compiled by Ellen Wilson Lytle, 1994, Deridder, Louisiana).