Constructed in 1852 for the Edwin Epps’ family, this single story Creole cottage was originally located on Bayou Boeuf near Holmesville in Avoyelles Parish. Relocated to Bunkie, LA in 1976, the house was moved to the LSUA campus in 1999 and reconstructed, thanks to the effort of Dr. Sue Eakin, a former LSUA Professor of History.
Formerly an overseer for Oakland Plantation, where LSUA stands today, Epps established himself as a planter and slave owner. Epps bought Solomon Northup in 1843 and owned him for ten years.
In 1852, Edwin Epps decided to build a house and hired architect and carpenter Samuel Bass. Because Northup was skilled in carpentry, he was assigned to help build the house and eventually he and Bass struck up a friendship. That friendship allowed Northup to tell Bass his story with Bass writing Northup’s friends and family to inform them of Solomon’s plight. This move paved the way for Northup to regain his freedom. It was also in the house, that Epps was informed that Northup was a kidnapped free man who would return to his family in Glens Falls, New York.
Today, the Epps House: Solomon Northup’s Gateway to Freedom stands on the LSUA campus as an exhibit dedicated to Solomon Northup. Additionally, the exhibit houses information regarding the Northup Trail as well as Dr. Sue Eakin. There are also pieces of folk art from the period and digital displays.
Northup tells of his experience in his 1853 book, Twelve Years a Slave, which inspired a 1984 documentary,” Solomon Northup’s Odyssey” and the 2013 movie “12 Years a Slave.”
Epps House: Solomon Northup’s Gateway to Freedom is open on a weekly basis Thursday-Sunday from 12:00pm until 4:00pm. It is also available to groups by appointment by calling 318-445-3672. It is free of charge.