Casa Grande

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Casa Grande

Casa Grande, the main house or family residence on a plantation during Brazil's colonial era and the Empire. Architectural style varied by region, era, and degree of wealth of the planter. The more elaborate homes were grand, two-story dwellings with separate sitting, dining, and ball rooms; numerous bedrooms; a kitchen and a pantry, and sometimes even a chapel. Family living quarters occupied the upper floor; the ground floor was divided into locked areas for storage of supplies, tools, and the products of the plantation. Rather than being set apart in a spacious garden, the casa grande typically formed one of a cluster of buildings—workshops, mill or waterwheel, storage sheds, and slave quarters—that made up the living and administrative core of a plantation. Sociologist Gilberto Freyre used the term casa grande in his famous study of slavery and race relations, Casa grande e senzala, published in 1933 and subsequently translated into English as The Masters and the Slaves (1946), to connote the constellation of cultural assumptions that characterized the patriarchal family and relations between masters and slaves, describing both the institutionalized brutality of slavery and the contributions of Afro-Brazilians to the larger patterns of Brazilian culture.

See alsoFazenda, Fazendeiro; Senzala.


Barickman, Bert Jude. "Revisiting the 'Casa-Grande': Plantation and Cane-Farming Households in Early Nineteenth-Century Bahia." Hispanic American Historical Review. 84:4 (November 2004): 619-659.

                         Sandra Lauderdale Graham