Oaklawn Manor Circa 1837   
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The Founding Years
Le Grande Tour
History of Franklin
Visitor Information


A Thriving Manor

Just when it seemed as though Oaklawn, yet again, might fall victim to desperate circumstances, a new savior stepped in.

In 1985, M.J. " Mike" Foster Jr. surprised his wife, Alice, with the keys to what would become their new most beloved home just outside Franklin, Louisiana, Foster's hometown.

Oaklawn Manor, with its 35 sprawling acres of oak-filled terrain, was home at first sight for the soon-to-be state senator (and, years later, Louisiana governor) and his wife. Complete with many of its original furnishings, the plantation was well-preserved.

The new owners, while maintaining the charm and elegance of the bygone eras contained within the walls, added a personal touch to Oaklawn by placing family portraits, antiques and favorite artwork in practically every room.

The governor takes special pride in his wildlife collection.  The Audubon room displays the governor's entire collection of Gould, Audubon and Selby prints.

The petit salon, located to the right of the Audubon room, contains an impressive collection of wooden duck decoys hand carved by Houma native Don Gomex, who, himself, is commonly referred to as the "modern Audubon."  It took Gomez nearly a decade to carve the life-like decoys, which represent all the birds indigenous to Louisiana.  A carved replica of two owls perch on a case by the doorway, guarding the entrance to the room.  At a quick glance, a visitor could easily mistaken the carving for the real thing but a closer look reveals the incredible artistry that captures every intricate detail.

When Foster was first elected to the state senate in 1987, he and Alice had been living at Oaklawn for barely a year.  There, family and friends gathered to celebrate his victory.

Having entered the political arena, Foster was not content with one victory.  Less than a decade later, Oaklawn served as both a home and haven for Foster during his gubernatorial race.

Following his victory in the gubernatorial race, Governor and Alice Foster still chose to spend as much time as possible at Oaklawn, dividing their time between their beloved home and the Governor's Mansion in Baton Rouge.

With the advent of current technology, Governor Foster is able to communicate via facsimile and telephones whenever necessary, allowing him to spend an average of three days a week at Oaklawn when the legislature is not in session.

Other amenities were added following the election.  An existing sea plane ramp was converted from its original state to a helicopter landing pad, allowing Governor Foster to travel to and from Baton Rouge quickly.

The Fosters enjoy spending quite times alone in their den, which is furnished with comfortable couches, a large fireplace and a television set.  They both enjoy fishing in Grand Isle and occasionally take their fishing boat out together.  Governor Foster also takes time to go duck hunting at his camp in Pecan Island.

Oaklawn's welcoming presence greets an average of twenty-some visitors each day.  The antique, wrought iron gates remain open, leading guests past the 24-hour guard house down the path past the main house.

Although the governor cherishes his privacy, he and Alice agree that the beauty of Oaklawn deserves to be seen and enjoyed by the public.  "After all," says Governor Foster, "it isn't any fun to own anything if you can't share it."

Shortly after moving to Oaklawn, the governor discovered the back gates among a pile of rubbish that had been discarded.  He quickly removed the gates from the pile and, after cleaning them off, returned them to their original assignment around the grounds of the manor.  Their addition echoes the original days of Oaklawn, when they stood protecting and adorning the property.

Although there is increased security on the property since Foster's election, the governor is often found relaxing and welcoming tourists to his plantation home.

He enjoys talking with visitors from all over the world and sharing the beauty and quietude of his antebellum home.  During the holidays, Alice Foster delights visitors with her festive decoration of the home.  Every Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving at Oaklawn marks a special time for the Foster family and each room of the plantation shimmers with ornate detail, capturing a sense of style and celebration for all to share.

The Fosters brought with them several family antiques and gifts that the governor and Alice had given to one another.

The governor's mother, Olive Foster, was an avid collector of Oriental art.  One of the most stunning pieces is a small jade Buddha, dating to the 12th Century, that stands between two carved Bonsai trees in the drawing room to the right of the main entrance.

In the same room, in the far right corner, stands a baby grand player piano that was a recent Christmas gift from Governor Foster to his beloved Alice.  The piano, which resembles an old Steinway, surprises guests with its computer disk-operated playing capacity.  The renowned pianist Ronnie Role recorded several favorite melodies especially for the Fosters' private collection during a Christmas party hosted at the plantation.

According to Governor Foster, one of his most meaningful and treasured additions is the portrait of his great-grandmother, Ida Victoria Hill Goodwill, that he inherited from his mother's estate

He recounts his close relationship with Ida Goodwill among his fondest memories.  Another piece in which the governor takes special pride is the antique desk he inherited from his paternal family which had previously belonged to his grandfather, Murphy J. Foster, who had been governor of Louisiana at the turn of the century.



The Renaissance
The Preservation
A Thriving Manor

What's New! 

Oaklawn Manor is looking festive for the Christmas season. Everything is decorated beautifully. Come visit us and see how nice it looks.

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