During Lee Barry's term as State Regent, 2004-2007, the Louisiana Society was pleased to refurbish the dining room at the Oakley Plantation House located in St. Francisville, Louisiana. The house celebrated its 200th anniversary on September 26, 2006. It was in 1945, that two Louisiana Daughters began the lengthy process that culminated in the restoration of this historic home and its outbuildings.
Arriving at Oakley Plantation on June 18, 1821, the young aspiring naturalist John James Audubon wrote:
"The rich magnolias covered with fragrant blossoms, the holly, the beech, the tall yellow poplar, the hilly ground and even the red clay, all excited my admiration."
Audubon's stay at Oakley lasted only four months, but he painted 32 of his famous bird pictures here and developed a love for the beautiful West Feliciana Parish. Mrs. Lucy Pirrie brought the young Audubon to Oakley as a tutor for her daughter, Eliza. The arrangement required that Audubon spend half his time teaching drawing to Eliza, but he was otherwise free to roam the woods and work on his naturalistic paintings. For this Audubon was to receive 60 dollars a month plus room and board for himself and his 13-year-old pupil assistant, John Mason. Audubon returned at a later date to join his wife, then teaching there, and his son. He wrote, "Numerous pupils desired lessons in music, French and drawing. . .the dancing speculation fetched two thousand dollars; and with this capital and my wife's savings I was now able to foresee a successful issue to my great ornithological work." This work was later to become Audubon's famous Birds of America."