Cedar Grove Tchoupitoulas Plantation is owned and operated by Jill and Joey Mercer. They have seven children. Five of their seven children, along with thirty other employees, work the events at the plantation. At just 17, Jill entered into the New Orleans Wedding Professionals as a soloist for wedding ceremonies. Her expertise then moved into the Floral and Event Coordination. She executed thousands events in different venues until one day she and her husband discovered Cedar Grove Tchoupitoulas Plantation. Immediately, they felt as many families would come to feel that “there’s something about this place.” It took eight years of painstaking renovations to restore the 225 year old building to its former glory. With a degree in history, Jill wanted to duplicate the plantation’s historical authenticity as closely as possible.
The chapel was designed after Jill’s childhood church, St. Josephs, once located in Pearlington, Ms. Unfortunately, it was blown down during Hurricane Katrina.
The cuisine is known for its quality and abundance all over New Orleans and beyond. Bride’s as far away as Canada, Australia, and Trinidad have booked weddings at the plantation sight unseen based solely on the impeccable reputation for its food, service and commitment to excellence. The recipes come from Jill’s grandmother who was a caterer, florist, and dress maker in the 1940’s in Uptown New Orleans.
Jill and Joey and their children are constantly thinking of more ways to create an atmosphere of historical elegance and grace. They value the home as the most peaceful and spiritual venue in New Orleans!
Cedar Grove Tchoupitoulas Plantation: History
Cedar Grove Plantation was built in 1790 just before the Louisiana Purchase. On the outskirts of New Orleans, it quickly became one of the largest producers of sugar cane and rice. The Drouet Family was the original builders and owners of Cedar Grove. It was named after the bundle of cedar trees that were gathered in the front yard. Today only one tree remains at the plantation. In the 1800’s Edouard Drouet allowed the railroad a right of way through the property. Then, for one dollar, he sold the railroad the right to build a train station on his property. The station called, Waggaman, no longer stands. It was named after the United States Senator George Waggaman. With no levy protecting it, Cedar Grove was moved off of the river four times. The last time it was moved the bottom floor was taken off. It then went from being a grand plantation to a farm house. The plantation remained in the family until 1948 at which time it was sold to a private owner.
In the early 1950’s a madam named Norma Wallace was pushed out of New Orleans. She “set up shop” in Waggaman at Cedar Grove Plantation. In 1963 she went to jail for her “dating service”. In 1964, she wanted to become an ”honest” woman. Therefore, she opened a steak house at the same location. Feeling that the name Cedar Grove was boring, she named it Tchoupitoulas Plantation Restaurant She actually “stole” this name from the plantation across the river now called Colonial Country Club. Today, both Cedar Grove and Tchoupitoulas names are used to represent all of the plantation’s 225 year history.
In the early 1970’s the house was sold as a restaurant to the Gennero Family. It maintained the fame brought by its original owner. The restaurant was very high end and had many famous patrons. The best stories of this era, however, came from the people in the surrounding areas of New Orleans. When an important event happened that needed a very special place, Tchoupitoulas Restaurant housed in Cedar Grove, was the place to go. Engagements, anniversaries, weddings, and parties were celebrated in this grand building. In 1993, the family wanted to move on to other ventures. So, the restaurant was closed.
In 1996, the house was bought on auction by a doctor and her husband. They were thrilled to be the owners of the oldest building in Jefferson Parish. Their intention was to restore the house so that they could live in it. However, after a few years, they realized that a plantation in Alabama was more to their liking. So, once again, the house sat empty waiting for a new family to fill its walls with laughter.
In August of 2006, Joey and Jill Mercer purchased the plantation. They brought 25 years of experience in wedding and events. Their intention was to host small events. The renovations, however, were intense. From the plumbing to the roof, they encountered every 200 year old problem that one could imagine. In time, they realized that the beloved CGT Plantation was meant to be shared with groups of all sizes. So, after researching historical homes, they added a ballroom, buffet room, and chapel. Today, the plantation hosts weddings, parties, and special events. The families that have events here are making history that will be read about many years from now.
The plantation encourages its families to: “Become part of our family history as we become part of yours!”