Dig Baton Rouge

Goodwood Plantation: From bridal gift to center of upscale community

At the time when Dr. Samuel Laycock began construction on his sugarcane plantation in the 1850’s, there was no way he could have guessed the future it would have.

The home, a near-copy of the Goodwood House in West Sussex, England, was built as a present for his bride. However, when the Civil War broke out, the home transformed into a hospital for soldiers. According to the Goodwood House’s website, Laycook’s lawyer, who was Abraham Lincoln, sent a letter pleading that “the house be spared from fire,” and it was.

Nearly 80 years later, Laycock sold his property to the Babin family in 1930. Aside from being the set for the 1967 film Hurry Sundown, which starred Jane Fonda and Michael Caine, the Goodwood House has remained relatively quiet. Under their ownership, it has remained a private residence, aside from hosting parties, events, and photography sessions.

Despite the recent inactivity, it finally seems the silence of the Goodwood House has been broken.

For the last few months, Michael Hogstrom, founding principal of Onsite Design, has been envisioning Adelia, his idea for an upscale community built around this property.

After much planning and negotiation, the deal was finally struck last Thursday, February 18th. Through the Adelia Development Company LLC, Hogstrom paid $8.5 million to the Babin Family.

On Adelia’s website, the company issued a news release regarding the plans and potential of this project. According to them, the 17 undeveloped acres of this property will include 46 custom built homes, which are in the rage of $750,000. The Goodwood House will undergo $1 million in renovations, and will serve as the centerpiece and clubhouse of this development.

According to the release, Charles A. Landry will serve as the co-developer on the project, and will deal with mostly with zoning and finances. Landry is well-known in Baton Rouge for his work on the Shaw Center for the Arts and the IBM building,

“This project is simply one-of-a-kind,” began Michael Hogstrom in the release. “Goodwood has always been a very desirable area to live and it would be hard to argue this property is not its crown jewel.”

“Our goal for this development is two-fold,” Hogstrom later emphasized. “First and foremost, we must preserve the integrity of the historic structure to ensure it stands another 150 years. We also want to bring renewed life and energy to this property which we know is a major cornerstone of central Baton Rouge.”

Tim Basilica, another co-developer at Onsite Design, said they are currently working on the restoration plans, and are also exploring options to put the home on the National Register of Historic Places. Like Hogstrom, Basilica also made it very clear the conservation of this area was very important.

“Onsite Design is honored to have been selected by the former owners of Goodwood Plantation to develop our vision for this property. Our priority is the preservation of this extraordinary piece of Baton Rouge’s history and will be taking steps to ensure its vitality for a new generation.”

Despite the size and nature of this delicate project, the two Babin siblings made it clear in the release they trusted the company very much.

“We hand-selected Onsite Design because we were impressed with their étage Gardens development which is near our property,” said Anna Babin-Neal and Thomas Babin. “His master plan will breathe new life into this extraordinary place that our family holds so dear.”

With such wide support from the owners and nearby residents, it is likely that Baton Rouge Parish’s Planning Commission will vote yes on March 21 to rezone this property for Adelia. If passed, the Metro Council will then vote on April 20 to finalize the decision.

If all goes well with rezoning, which is expected, design and construction will begin in May, according to the release.

“Adelia will give Baton Rouge a new standard for high-end residential living,” Hogstrom said in the release. “As you drive under the ancient oaks and approach the house, you know you are somewhere incredibly special. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in a community with an unparalleled sense of place and become a part of Baton Rouge history.”


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