In the 1700s, Europeans settled this area known as Indian Camp and developed a plantation economy along the Mississippi River. Robert Camp, a planter from Virginia, began purchasing land here in the 1820s. He farmed sugarcane and owned about 100 enslaved workers.  

Camp called his plantation “Woodlawn,” but the older name for the area, Indian Camp, stuck. The 30 room mansion behind you, to your right, was built in 1859. The architect, Henry Howard, also designed Nottoway Plantation, which is located across the river.

In 1892, Louisiana passed a law calling for the quarantine of persons diagnosed with leprosy. The Louisiana State Legislature, with Dr. Isadore Dyer, a dermatologist from Tulane College of Medicine, established the Board of Control to create the Louisiana Leper Home. The Board rented Indian Camp Plantation, which by then had been abandoned. The first 7 patients arrived from New Orleans by coal barge in 1894. A diagnosis of leprosy made use of public transportation illegal. The first patients lived in the slave quarters because the plantation was in ruin. A doctor made weekly visits, but the patients mostly fended for themselves.

In 1896, the patient population was about 35. Lay nurses would not serve here because of fear, so the State signed a contract with the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (DOC), an order of Catholic nuns whose mission is to care for the sick and the poor. The first 4 DOC arrived in 1896 to provide "the nursing of the patients and the household management" for $100 each per year. (To learn more about the involvement of the Daughters of Charity with leprosy patients from New Orleans to Carville, visit this site.) By 1900, the patient census was about 100.

To your right, one sees the 2-story building with rectangular chimney; this was the quarters built for the Sisters. There were about 25 individual rooms, a common dining hall, and a private chapel. The DOC remained on site until 2005. 116 sisters served the Carville mission as nurses, dieticians, laboratory researchers, pharmacists, teachers and spiritual leaders.  

The miniature “house” behind the plantation was built around 1920. Its uses varied from arts and crafts house; greenhouse; and catechism classroom. The plantation home itself was eventually refurbished and served as the administration building for the hospital.

For the next story site, please drive about 200 feet forward near the US Postal box on the right.



Audio File 1
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Carville Driving Tour, Story Site #1
Elizabeth Schexnyder, Curator of the National Hansen's Disease Programs Museum, created this tour for visitors to the Carville facility.
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National Hansen's Disease Museum, 5445 Point Clair Rd, Carville, LA