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The best self guided walking tour of New Orleans’ French Quarter

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The perfect French Quarter self guided walking tour.

This tour is meant to be followed in the following order… Simply type the next address into your phone and get to walkin!  Enjoy your adventure!

 

Old US Mint (400 Esplanade Ave.)

 Built in 1835, the Old U.S. Mint is the only building in America to have served both as a United States and a Confederate Mint. President Andrew Jackson advocated the Mint’s establishment in order to help finance development of the nation’s western frontier.

Renowned architect William Strickland designed the building in the then-popular Greek Revival style. Three years after the building opened, in 1838, minting began.

In 1861, Louisiana seceded from the Union. State authorities seized the property and transferred it to the Confederate Army. For a short time, it was used to mint Confederate currency and to house Confederate troops. This ended when New Orleans was occupied by Federal forces. Following the Civil War, minting of United States coins resumed and continued until 1909. In 1966, the landmark building was transferred to the state of Louisiana, and in 1981, it opened to the public as part of the Louisiana State Museum complex.

 

 

French Market (French Market Pl.)

 

Over 200 years old, the french market is America’s oldest public market, being established in 1791.  What began as a Native American trading post on the banks of the mighty, muddy Mississippi River on the site chosen for the City by the French, has become a cultural, commercial and entertainment treasure which the Crescent City proudly shares with the world.  By the 1850’s and 60’s Italian immigrants moved into the market and developed groceries and deli’s within its open aired alleys. Italian families were such a strong economic and social force in the Quarter that St. Mary’s Church became known as “St. Mary’s Italian Church” to distinguish it from “St. Mary’s Assumption Church,” the church of the German community Uptown.

As population demographics shifted, the Italians moved out of the French Market proper, opening up Central Grocery and Progress Grocery, across the street on Decatur. The Perrone family moved the Progress Grocery business out to Metairie in the 1990s.  

While Cafe du Monde is the oldest tenant of the French Market, dating back to 1865, they were not the only coffee shop.  The Morning Call Coffee Stand first opened in the 1870s, behind the “red stores” buildings in the French Market. Morning Call replaced the Vegetable Market in the 1930s.  In its location at the Ursulines and Decatur, Morning Call offered curbside service; carhops would take your order so you didn’t have to leave the car. Morning Call was a fixture of the “back of the market” until the business moved to Metairie in 1974, across from Lakeside Mall.  The interior of the Metairie location features the original fixtures from the French Market stand.

In the 1990s, Cafe Du Monde opened a stand inside Lakeside mall itself, so once again, the two coffee stands are just a few blocks’ walk from each other.

 

Old Ursuline Convent (1114 Chartres Street)

Old building in the Mississippi River Valley.  The convent complex dates back to 1732, when construction of two buildings designed five years earlier by Ignace Nicholas Broutin, the Chief Engineer of Louisiana, and architect Andre de Batz, was completed, and the Ursuline nuns moved in. Most buildings in the 18th century city were covered with stucco, to offer some defense from the heat and humidity.

Unfortunately, the convent buildings weren’t, and the exposed walls suffered from a great deal of deterioration by 1745. Broutin re-designed the buildings, and they were rebuilt using brick, which was then covered with stucco. This re-design gave the convent a more plain/institutional look, symmetrical and formal. That wasn’t regarded as a problem at the time, of course, since the nuns used the ground floor of the facility as an orphanage and the second floor as their residence.

The convent’s survival of the massive fires of 1788 and 1794 are why its designation as “oldest building in New Orleans” is a bit dubious. The 1788 fire destroyed 856 buildings; the fire six years later an additional 212. Both fires spared the eastern or “down-river” side of the Quarter. Because the Spanish were in control of the city at the time of both fires, the “French Quarter” is actually more Spanish in style, but the convent remained as a major example of French architecture and design.

By the 1820s, the mission of the Ursulines outgrew their facility. They moved over to Faurborg Treme, turning over the original convent to the Bishop of New Orleans. This is why you sometimes see old postcards of the convent identifying it as the “Archbishop’s Palace.” The bishops (and later archbishops, as the diocese was promoted) lived on Rue Chartres until 1899, when they moved uptown, to the campus of Notre Dame Seminary

Until the diocese took over in 1825, the main entrance of the convent was on the river side of the building. A chapel and hospital building faced the Decatur Street side of the block. Bishop Duborg had a gatehouse and entrance portico constructed on the Rue Chartres side, effectively re-orienting the building.

The configuration of the bottom floor of the convent as an orphanage made it a good physical plant for a school. The diocese operated a boys school there for two years, but closed the school in 1827 because of high costs. The building was then leased to the city, which operated a school there until 1831, when the convent began a three-year period as the home of the Louisiana Legislature.

In 1845, the diocese constructed a church on Chartres Street, adjacent to the convent, to accommodate the population growth in the lower Quarter. The church, originally named “Our Lady of Victory,” became known as “St. Mary’s Italian Church,” because it became the home parish for the many Italian immigrants who arrived and settled in the neighborhood in the 1880s-90s. As the Italians moved in, the archdiocese (and the Ursulines, now based on Esplanade and N. Rampart) moved out, heading uptown. The convent still housed some archdiocesan offices, but also took on the role of church rectory.

Throughout the first half of the 20th Century, the facility assumed a very localized role, as the parish opened a school there. By the 1970s, the long-closed school had, along with the convent proper, fallen into serious disrepair. An effort to renovate and restore the convent began in 1976, keeping with its status (declared in 1960) as a National Historic Landmark

Today, the Old Ursuline Convent is restored and a popular historical attraction. It is also part of the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, along with St. Louis Cathedral.

 

Beauregard House (1113 Chartres Street)

The house was built in 1826 by architect Francois Correjolles for a wealthy auctioneer by the name of Joseph Le Carpentier.

In 1829, LeCarpentier’s daughter, Louise Therese Felicite Thelcide LeCarpentier married Michel Alonzo Morphy. On June 22, 1827 their son Charles Paul Morphy, the world chess champion, was born. 

In 1833 LeCarpentier sold the house to John Ami Merle who later became the Swiss Consul to New Orleans. His wife, Anais Merle designed the House’s first parterre garden.

Josephine Laveau Trudeau, the widow of Bernard Noel (Manuel) Andry, purchased the House from the creditors of John A. Merle in 1841. Her daughter Adonai Andry married L. Armand Garidel and they moved into the house next door. When Madame Andry purchased the house, the property also included the corner area where Mrs. Merle had begun to develop the parterre garden, which Madame Andry and her daughter continued to maintain and improve. Following her death, Madame Andry’s daughter and her husband inherited the house and continued to live there until the end of the Civil War. 

General Beauregard never actually owned 1113 Chartres; however upon his return from the Civil War in late 1865 he, along with his two sons, rented the entire house from Dominique Lanata. His second wife, Caroline Deslonde, passed away while he was away at war and her family mansion on Esplanade Avenue which the two had shared prior to the war was sold at auction by her heirs. 

The house suffered from severe disrepair during the early 20th century. Fortunately, it was saved from destruction when it was purchased on July 8, 1926 by the well-known New Orleans architect, General Allison Owen, whose father, William Miler Owen, was one of the founders of the Louisiana Historical Association. General Owen’s purchase of the house gave time for the organization of what came to be called Beauregard House, Incorporated, for the purpose of preserving and restoring the house as a memorial to General Beauregard. The wood columns on the front portico were badly rotted and were replaced by General Owen with the present ones of concrete. However, the plans for creating a Beauregard memorial house were not successful. For several years, the house was partly occupied by Warrington House, a home for homeless men, and by Alcoholics Anonymous. Only a few repairs were made during this period, but enough to keep the house from falling to ruin.

Richard Simmons lived in the lower portion of the house during childhood (citation needed)

 

Soniat House (1133 Chartres Street)

1829, wealthy aristocratic planter and sugar cane plantation owner, Joseph Soniat du Fossat, built this place as a town house.  In the 1860’s, the wrought iron with which Monsieur du Fossat had embellished his home was torn away, replaced with the admirable cast-iron lacework it now wears.

 

Clay House (620 Gov. Nichols)

This is a residence built about 1828 by JohnClay for his wife.  Clay’s brother was the famous statesman, Henry Clay. The two-story building at the rear of the adjoining garden was added after 1871 and, in the 1890s, it was used by Frances Xavier Cabrini, the religious, now St. Frances Cabrini, as a schoolhouse. 

 

Madam LaLaurie Mansion (1140 Royal Street)

The LaLaurie Mansion is famous as the site of the torture and murder of a number of enslaved people owned by Marie Delphine Macarty who was commonly known as Madame LaLaurie. In 1832 Lalaurie, a New Orleans socialite, and her third husband, Dr. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie, built the three-story structure to house their family including two children.  

As was the custom in New Orleans at that time, enslaved blacks were kept in attached quarters. The LaLaurie slaves were kept in horrid conditions, even by the standards of slave treatment, and usually were half-starved. Despite their treatment, Madame LaLaurie was known in public to be polite to black people, and court records show that she manumitted two of her slaves. Regardless, rumors spread of the family’s mistreatment of their slaves, prompting an official investigation in 1832. A local attorney went to the mansion to investigate allegations of mistreatment of the LaLaurie slaves. He found no wrongdoing.  

Stories of mistreatment persisted, however, including accounts that were shared with Harriet Martineau, the prominent nineteenth century English writer who visited the city in 1833. One account describes Madame LaLaurie as becoming enraged when a twelve-year-old slave girl named Leah accidentally hit a snag while combing LaLaurie’s hair. LaLaurie chased the girl around the room with a whip until the child leaped off the balcony to her death. Leah was buried behind the mansion grounds, and LaLaurie was found guilty of cruelly abusing her slaves and forced to forfeit her nine remaining bondspeople. The slaves were taken away and scheduled to be sold at a public auction, but LaLaurie persuaded a relative to purchase the enslaved workers and return them to the mansion.

On April 10, 1834, a fire broke out in the kitchen of the LaLaurie Mansion. When the police and fire marshals arrived, they found a seventy-year-old woman, the family cook, chained to the stove. She later confessed that she intentionally had set the fire as a suicide attempt because she feared Madame LaLaurie intended to take her to the torture room as punishment. The cook claimed that anyone taken upstairs to the room never came back. This account, reported in the local press, led bystanders the next day to demand that the torture room be inspected. When the LaLauries denied them entrance, they broke down the doors and found seven mutilated slave bodies. Some were hung, others were stretched at their limbs, and still others were missing body parts. One surviving old slave woman had a wound on her head that left her too weak to walk.

When the discovery of the torture room became widely known, a mob attacked the LaLaurie Mansion. The surviving slaves were rescued and brought to a local jail for a macabre public viewing by more than four thousand New Orleans residents. Investigators later found several bodies, including one child, buried throughout the mansion grounds.

Madame LaLaurie and her family escaped the mansion just before the mob took control of it.  What they did for the next fifteen years is unclear. It is known is that Marie Delphine Macarty LaLaurie died in Paris, France, on December 7, 1849. The mansion that Lalaurie lived in now is a landmark of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

 

The Gallier House (1132 Royal Street)

Anne Rice’s “Interview with a vampire” house.  During the mid-1800s, when New Orleans was one of the largest cities in the United States and its major southern port, the city was enjoying an architectural boom. Among the most prominent architects of this glorious era were the Galliers – James and James, Jr. – father and son.

Between the two of them they designed some of New Orleans’ most famous and recognizable landmarks, a number of which still stand today, including the Greek Revival-style Gallier Hall on St. Charles Avenue, which served as New Orleans’ City Hall for a century. James Gallier Sr. also helped design the Pontalba Apartments on Jackson Square and the Leeds Building which today houses the Preservation Resource Center. James Gallier, Jr. designed the French Opera House that was the center of culture for the city from 1859 until it burned in 1919.

In 1857, at the height of their fame and prestige, the Galliers designed a home of their own in the 1100 block of Royal Street. It still stands today and Gallier House is one of the true architectural gems of the French Quarter.

 

Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (941 Bourbon Street)

Privateer Jean Lafitte (1780-1823), aka John Lafitte, owned a business here early in the 19th century.

by 1809, Jean Lafitte and his brother Pierre apparently had established this property in New Orleans as a blacksmith shop that reportedly served as a depot for smuggled goods and slaves brought ashore by a band of privateers. From 1810 to 1814 this group probably formed the nucleus for Laffite’s illicit colony on the secluded islands of Barataria Bay south of the city. Holding privateer commissions from the republic of Cartagena (in modern Colombia), Laffite’s group preyed on Spanish commerce, illegally disposing of its plunder through merchant connections on the mainland.

Because Barataria Bay was an important approach to New Orleans, the British during the War of 1812 offered Laffite $30,000 and a captaincy in the Royal Navy for his allegiance. Laffite pretended to cooperate, then warned Louisiana officials of New Orleans’ peril. Instead of believing him, Gov. W.C.C. Claiborne summoned the U.S. Army and Navy to wipe out the colony. Some of Laffite’s ships were captured, but his business was not destroyed. Still protesting his loyalty to the U.S., Laffite next offered aid to the hard-pressed forces of Gen. Andrew Jackson in defense of New Orleans if he and his men could be granted a full pardon. Jackson accepted, and in the Battle of New Orleans (December 1814–January 1815) the Baratarians, as Laffite and his men came to be known, fought with distinction. Jackson personally commended Laffite as “one of the ablest men” of the battle, and Pres. James Madison issued a public proclamation of pardon for the group.

 

Cornstalk Fence (915 Royal Street)

Originally built in 1816 as the home of the first Attorney General of Louisiana, François Xavier-Martin, the Cornstalk Hotel attracts travelers who are intrigued by its history and old-world appeal.

While Judge Xavier-Martin is credited for the construction of the building known today, the earliest structure on the site goes back to 1730. It is believed that the previous homes on this lot had been destroyed by the Great Fires of New Orleans, which nearly consumed the French Quarter on both occasions. Unfortunately, any records of the families who had previously resided there were lost as well.

In 1834, the home was purchased by Dr. Joseph Secondo Biamenti for himself and his wife. A little over 20 years later, Dr. Secondo Biamenti’s wife fell homesick for her state of Iowa and its waving fields of corn. In hopes to ease her heartache, he had commissioned to have a decorative iron fence depicting corn created and erected around the home.

 

Miltenberger Houses (910 Royal Street)

The building on the corner of Royal and Dumaine Streets is probably one of the most photographed houses in the French Quarter.  I’ve seen its image on dozens of postcards. The descriptions mention its graceful beauty and what an excellent example of French Quarter architecture it is. Not many postcards address its history or go into detail about the family who had it constructed. It’s actually 3 connected row houses, doors facing on Royal Street.  Mrs. Christian Miltenberger had the homes built for her 3 children, several years after her husband’s death. Dr. and Mrs. Miltenberger came to New Orleans in the wave of immigrants who fled St. Dominigue during the slave insurrections of the 1790’s. They’d owned coffee plantations there, however, both of their families were originally from Alsace, France.  Dr. Miltenberger was a physician who’d had considerable experience treating Yellow Fever epidemics on St. Dominigue and, grateful for his expertise, the Mayor of New Orleans appointed him to supervise indigent health care. He was one of the first to theorize that Yellow Fever was not a contagious disease.  Christian Miltenberger became influential in the medical community and his reputation spread beyond New Orleans.  He acquired two sugar plantations and became a wealthy man and one of the most well-known of St. Domingue’s refugees.  Perhaps, his biggest claim to fame lies in his service as surgeon at the Battle of New Orleans, attached to Major Plauche’s contingent of Creoles. Dr. Miltenberger died in 1829, at the age of 65.  In 1838, his widow, Marie Aimee Miltenberger, had the striking building on Royal Street constructed.  Members of the family continued to live there for at least 3 generations.

 The House of Jean Pascal (632 Dumaine)

Many researchers insist this is the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley.  Defenders of the present building’s antiquity think it was erected in 1726. The current owner, the Louisiana State Museum, renovated the structure and furnished it with furniture of the period.  The name, Madame John’s Legacy, by which it is identified, is the result of having been given that title in a fictional story, “Tite Poulette”, by George Washington Cable.

St. Louis Cathedral and surrounding alleys (615 Pere Antoine Aly)

The St. Louis Cathedral is one of New Orleans’ most notable landmarks. This venerable building, its triple steeples towering above its historic neighbors, the Cabildo and the Presbytere – looks down benignly on the green of the Square and General Andrew Jackson on his bronze horse and on the block-long Pontalba Buildings with their lacy ironwork galleries. Truly, this is the heart of old New Orleans.

Since 1727 New Orleanians have worshipped in churches on this site. Half a dozen years earlier, the French engineer, Adrien De Pauger, who arrived in the newly founded city on March 29, 1721, designated this site for a church in conformity with the plan of the Engineer-in-Chief of Louisiana, LeBlond de la Tour, who was at the capital, Biloxi.

The new parish church, dedicated to Louis IX, sainted King of France, was thus perhaps the first building in New Orleans of “brick between posts” (briques entre poteaux) construction, an effective method of building that continued to be used in Louisiana until at least the middle of the nineteenth century. De Pauger, unfortunately, died on June 21, 1726, before his church was completed. In his will he requested that he be buried within the unfinished building, a request presumably granted.

During the six decades that the church stood, there worshipped within its walls French Governors Perier, Bienville, Vaudreuil and Kerlerec and Spanish Governors Unzaga, Galvez and Miro. In this first little church were baptized the children of the colonists and the children of the slaves. Here were married the lowly and the highborn, and through its doors were borne the mortal remains of the faithful for the burial rites of Holy Mother Church on the last journey to the little cemetery on St. Peter Street.

 

Pirates Alley (622 Pirates Alley)

 here are two alleyways that run on either side of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans’ Jackson Square, connecting Rue Royale and Rue Chartres. The alley on the “Uptown” side of the cathedral (between the church and the Cabildo) was long called “The Pirates Alley” before that name was formalized in 1964. But were there really “pirates” in “Pirates Alley?”

When the street plan for the French Quarter was laid out, all the streets running lake-to-river (Iberville, Bienville, etc.), did so from Rampart Street to Decatur, with one exception. The street in the center, Rue Orleans, was planned to run from Rampart, but to stop literally at the back door of the cathedral. To avoid the walk back over to Rue St. Peter or Rue St. Ann, two passages were laid out on either side of the church. When the Cathedral chapter decided to build a formal garden behind the church, Rue Orleans was further pushed back to Rue Royale to make way for what now is St. Anthony’s Garden.

While one can imagine a foggy evening in 1814, when General Andrew Jackson stepped out to the Cabildo as the seat of government for the newly-created State of Louisiana to tryst with Jean Lafitte  the “privateer,” there’s just no historical foundation for the legend. Given Lafitte’s business (smuggling and contraband), it doesn’t seem likely that he would hang out in so public a place as next to the largest church (at the time) in the city. It’s possible that Jean’s brother, Pierre, might have used the alley as a meeting place, but that’s also unlikely. Pierre was arrested and imprisoned by the U.S. government in 1814 for smuggling and piracy. Jean negotiated with Jackson to secure Pierre’s “escape” from prison, in exchange for intelligence on the British prior to the Battle of New Orleans. So, why would Pierre have an aversion to that part of town? The prison was in the Cabildo, right across the alleyway. That doesn’t stop the story from being told, of course. Perhaps it’s that checkered (albeit fictional) past that led William Faulkner to the alley in 1925. Renting space at 625 Orleans Alley (the official name of the alley at the time), Faulkner wrote his first novel, Soldier’s Pay, there.

Pirate’s Alley (and its mate on the other side of the cathedral, now known as Pere Antoine Alley) were originally unpaved passageways. Measuring approximately 600 feet long and 16 feet wide, the alleyways were paved with cobblestones in the 1830s. When the streets surrounding Jackson Square were converted into a pedestrian mall in the 1980s, Pirate’s Alley became even more attractive to retail shops, bars, etc. There’s one additional half block-long alley directly behind the Cabildo, linking Rue St. Peter and Pirate’s Alley. This passageway is appropriately named Cabildo Alley.

Of all the stories and legends surrounding Pirate’s Alley, the one near and dear to many New Orleanians is the legend of Morgus the Magnificent. Momus Alexander Morgus (played by the actor Sid Noel) was a “mad scientist” who had his own television show that was essentially a lead-in to various old science fiction and horror movies of dubious quality. The sketches Morgus would do took place in his lab, situated above what was described as the “Old City Ice House.” The fire escape from Morgus’ lab reputedly led down to Pirate’s Alley.

With such a colorful past, you can see why Pirate’s Alley is a literary and romantic focal point in the French Quarter. Many couples choose to be married in the alley, rather than the big church next door. Such a New Orleans thing to do!

Enjoy Pirate’s Alley this weekend at the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s Words and Music festival. Masterclasses and workshops given by renowned writers and prominent New Orleans figures such as John Biguenet, Tom Carson and Irvin Mayfield will be held, and of course plenty of celebration surrounding food, drink and music – the cultural touchstones of New Orleans.

 

Maison LeMonnier, the first skyscraper. (640 Royal Street)

Frequently described as the first skyscraper, this three-story structure was built in1811, and the third-floor study is regarded as the most beautiful chamber, architecturally, in New Orleans.  Wrought into the iron balcony railings can be seen the doctor’s initials, “YLM”

 

Court of Two Lions (537 Royal Street)

The Vincent Nolte House, also known as the “Court of Two Lions,” is an important early 19th-century (1819) structure designed by American architect Benjamin Latrobe. Its delicate pilaster treatment on the upper floors is typical of its period of construction. Its ground floor openings, however, have been altered to accommodate commercial usage.

 

Casa de Comercio (536 Royal Street)

An excellent example of forthright Spanish architecture in New Orleans. This building was built shortly after the December 1794 fire. (talk about fire of 1794)

 

Merieult House (533 Royal Street)

The fires of 1788 and 1794 reduced practically the whole city to ashes.  Only two principle structures survived the flames. One of them is the Merieult House in front of us built in 1792, by Jean Francios Merieult.  His wife, Catherine McNamara was blessed with a full head of beautiful bright red hair. When she was in Paris with her husband she was approached by an emissary from the powerful Emporer Napolean asking for her hair.  Napolean was desperate for France to make an allegiance with the reluctant Sultan of Turkey who wished to present one of his concubines with a “wig of light.” He offered a castle in the French countryside as a trade and still Madam McNamara refused.

 

Casa Faurie (417 Royal Street)

Built soon after 1801 for the maternal grandfather of the French Impressionist painter, Edgar Degas.  When General Andrew Jackson revisited New Orleans in 1828, he attended lavish banquets here. Now this site is home to the awarded Brennan’s restaraunt, famous for its pink exterior and decadent bananas foster.

 

Louisiana Supreme Court Building (400 Royal Street)

The Vieux Carré’s Louisiana Supreme Court Building is a massive white marble and terra-cotta Beaux Arts structure that fills the square bounded by Chartres, St. Louis, Royal, and Conti streets. Completed in 1910, it was long considered an ungainly intrusion in the heart of New Orleans’ original Creole city, both for its inappropriate scale and its gleaming neoclassical exterior, which was inspired by the Chicago Exposition of 1893 and the subsequent City Beautiful movement. The building was deemed a “white elephant” just two decades after it was built and, in 1934, architect Charles Harris Whitaker deemed it “one of the worst examples of a public building to be found in all America.”

Prior to the construction of the new courthouse, the supreme court had operated from the Cabildo on Jackson Square since the 1860s.  When it was decided that a more spacious and modern headquarters was required for the courts system and a Courthouse Commission was formed to oversee the project, the initial plan was to construct the new facilities on the sites of the Cabildo and Presbyte, which were to be demolished. This idea led to such a public outcry that it was soon abandoned and the Commission began searching for new sites. After years of weighing its options, which included a retrofit of the Vieux Carré’s then-vacant St. Louis Exchange Hotel, the Commission settled on a square just upriver from the hotel that was densely developed with early-nineteenth-century residences and shops.  Exchange Alley, a pedestrian path that at one time buzzed with legal and political offices, bisected the block. In 1903, when the Commission began purchasing or expropriating the properties, the buildings were dark, deteriorated, and tenement-like, and some saw the clearing of this land and the erection of a grand edifice as a means of “redeeming a neighborhood.” Many others in the community, however, keenly felt the loss. In its April 1906 issue, Architectural Art and Its Allies wrote that “we feel assured that the artistic loss…in the invasion of the quaint old French quarter by a brand new building where it will stand alone…will be fully realized only when the remedy will be forever impossible.”  In June 1903, when the demolitions were taking place, the Daily Picayune published an editorial that mourned the square as “one of the most historic sites in New Orleans. It is the very heart of the vieux carré…and while still palpitant with memories of pioneer bravery and colonial splendor, it must be torn to pieces that progress may continue its onward march.”

The destruction for the Louisiana Supreme Court Building serves as an object lesson in the value of legal bodies and organizations like the Vieux Carre Commission (VCC) and the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates, Inc. (VCPORA), which were established in the decades after the building’s construction to prevent this type of loss. Indeed, with a hint of irony, it was the Louisiana Supreme Court who ruled in 1941 that the VCC had jurisdiction not only over the Vieux Carré’s individual historic structures but over its tout ensemble, or the overall character of the district, as well.  Yet in 1903, with no legislative protection or dedicated organizations fighting to save the buildings, which were valuable yet lacked the beloved status of individual landmarks like the Cabildo and Presbytère, the demise of an entire square of history was all but inevitable.

The Supreme Court moved to new quarters in 1958, and the Royal Street building suffered decades of neglect. In the 1990s, however, the court decided to return to the Vieux Carré, and the building underwent an extensive renovation.  With the passage of time, the building has come to be regarded in a more positive light as a fine example of Beaux Arts architecture.

 

Old Louisiana State Bank (403 Royal Street)

The Louisiana State Bank was founded in 1818, and was the first bank established in the new state of Louisiana following its admission to the Union. A competition was held for the design of its first building, whose results are not known. The commission was eventually awarded by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, then already a successful architect with documented portfolio of bank buildings. Latrobe died in New Orleans in 1820. The building was completed in 1822 at a cost of $55,000. It has served a variety of commercial purposes over the years, including as the Manheim Gallery for much of the 20th century.  Latrobe was also the architect responsible for the construction of the city’s first water tower in New Orleans (made entirely out of cypress wood)

 

Old Bank of United States (343 Royal)

his structure, built in 1800, is the oldest of the many buildings in which banks have been located.  Its balcony railings are exceptionally good examples of hand forged (wrought) ironwork. (Talk about history and examples of wrought ironwork in city and along tour thus far)

 

Old Bank of Louisiana (334 Royal)

This beautiful building was completed in 1826 to house the Bank of Louisiana.  For years this intersection was the city’s financial hub, with a bank on three of the four corners.  Currently the site of the French Quarter Police Station.

 

Kolly Townhouse (301 Chartres)

Jean-Daniel Kolly, banking councillor to the Elector of Bavaria and large investor in the Company of the Indies, had a townhouse built on this site shortly after the founding of New Orleans in 1718. The Sainte-Reyne, concession upriver, controlled by Kolly, leased the residence for use as a provisional convent by the Ursuline nuns. After arriving at the port from the Balize by pirogue on August 6, 1727, the religious established themselves and remained here until July 17, 1734. The building was later used for the first charity hospital, established by gift of Jean Louis, former sailor for the Company of the Indies. Archdiocese Bicentennial Commission

 

Napoleon House (500 Chartres Street)

The building was built for Nicholas Girod, mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He had plans to make it the residence of Napoleon in 1821. The Frenchmen died before he could escape his imprisonment. For 101 years it was run as a restaurant by the Impastato family. Ralph Brennan took over ownership in May of 2015. Stand out dishes are the Muffaletta that feeds two and their Pimm’s Cup

 

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum/ first US pharmacy (514 Chartres Street)

The “first United States apothecary shop to be conducted on the basis of proven adequacy.” In 1804, Louisiana Govenor, WCC Claiborne, in an effort to curb fraudulent dosing practices and ensure pharmaceutical competence, required all pharmacists to be licensed. Louis J. Dufilho, Jr became the first pharmacist to pass the 3-hour oral examination, paving the way towards improved healthcare for the citizens of New Orleans. 

 

I hope you learned a little bit and saw a lot!  Now go get yourself a bowl of gumbo and a sazerac!

 

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