The Place Next Door

Perched upon loess bluffs overlooking an un-leveed portion of the Mississippi River lies the town of St Francisville, LA. West Feliciana Parish boasts of its pristinely preserved antebellum plantations and welcomes visitors every weekend of October attending The Angola Prison Rodeo. Manicured grounds sitting alongside architectural skeletons create an alarming discord. The town's past is the cornerstone of the present moment leaving me to wonder who St Francisville is really for. 

Before us we see a home- uninhabitable, a church- abandoned, a bar- closed, a corner store- overgrown and a tomb-cracked. The Place Next Door explores aged or forgotten structures in The Greater St Francisville Area. Doug of Captain Doug’s Rosemound Bait Shop & General Store said “when I moved here I needed a job, so I bought one. I’ve had this store for seventeen years now.” Unfortunately, others have been less successful, or perhaps less lucky than Captain Doug. St Mary’s Episcopal, a historical gothic church, 1857, has brand new windows, but remains without worshipers behind locked gates. The old post office building, most recently home to the town’s library, sits empty downtown. Few structures exist along Bayou Sara, the still un-leveed riverfront that was once a thriving port town. One exception is The Oyster Bar, a local watering-hole that closes nearly yearly due to flooding leaving the entire structure underwater. 

Perhaps those looking for libations will frequent The Place Next Door, a daiquiri bar and lounge located inside of M&J’s Grocery and Gas. 

This body of work borrows its name from that bar because St Francisville is a small town just outside of “the town where we grew up”: the place next door. It’s time to celebrate the culture of daily life in the area rather than it’s historically unsettling past. As a visitor I am entranced with the facade of a familiar-seeming town traveling, maybe-not, inevitably towards a forgotten grave.

© 2020 Lara Morgan

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