NOLA French Quarter
When we were in NOLA we took a walking tour through the French Quarter loosely using Frommers walking tour guide of the French Quarter. I’ve included some of the details from Frommers. We tried to get out fairly early to get as many photos as we could before the crowds came out.
We learned pretty quickly that New Orleans does not get up early. Not even on a weekday. Most of the windows and balconies were closed up tight as if to say, “nawh… it’s too early”. We took a ton of photos that day and we both got some sun. I was a nerd about doing the walking tour, and Brett was hesitant. It really was a great way to see the area. We even got lost for a bit. Let the tour begin.
The Bank of Louisiana – This old bank was erected in 1826 at 334 Royal St. by Philip Hamblet and Tobias Bickle, after the designs of Benjamin Fox. Its Greek Revival edifice was erected in the early 1860s, and the bank was liquidated in 1867. The building has suffered a number of fires (in 1840, 1861, and 1931) and has served as the Louisiana State Capitol, an auction exchange, a criminal court, a juvenile court, and a social hall for the American Legion. It now houses the police station for the Vieux Carré.
Latrobe’s – Benjamin H. B. Latrobe died of yellow fever shortly after completing designs for the Louisiana State Bank, which opened in this building in 1821. At the time of his death, Latrobe was one of the nation’s most eminent architects, having designed the Bank of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (1796) and contributed to the design of the U.S. Capitol.
– Brennan’s opened in this building at 417 Royal St., also built by Vincent Rillieux, in 1855. The structure was erected after the fire of 1794 destroyed more than 200 of the original buildings along this street. From 1805 to 1841, it was home to the Banque de la Louisiane. The world-famous chess champion Paul Charles Morphy moved here as a child in 1841. The parents of Edgar Degas also lived here.
The Brulatour Court – This structure at 520 Royal St. was built in 1816 as a home for François Seignouret, a furniture maker and wine importer from Bordeaux — his furniture, with a signature “S” carved into each piece, still commands the respect of collectors. From 1870 to 1887, wine importer Pierre Brulatour occupied the building. WDSU-TV no longer maintains offices there, but during business hours you should still be welcome to walk into the courtyard — it’s one of the few four-walled courtyards in the French Quarter and among the more exotic. Also, from the street, notice the elaborate, fan-shaped guard screen (garde de frise) on the right end of the third-floor balcony — look closely for Seignouret’s “S” carved into the screen.
The Merieult House – Built for the merchant Jean François Merieult in 1792, this house at 533 Royal St. was the only building in the area left standing after the fire of 1794. Legend has it that Napoleon repeatedly offered Madame Merieult great riches in exchange for her hair. (He wanted it for a wig to present to a Turkish sultan.) She refused. Nowadays, it’s home to the Historic New Orleans Collection — Museum/Research Center.
Lacoul House – Built in 1829 by a prominent physician, this was a boardinghouse run by Antoine Alciatore for several years during the 1860s. His cooking became so popular with the locals that he eventually gave up catering to open the famous Antoine’s restaurant, still operated today by his descendants.
Pat O’Brien’s – You’ve probably heard of this famous New Orleans nightspot at 718 St. Peter St.. The building was completed in 1790 for a wealthy planter and was known as the Maison de Flechier. Later, Louis Tabary put on popular plays here. It’s said that the first grand opera in America was performed within these walls. The courtyard is open to visitors and is well worth a look — if you can see it past the crowds consuming the Hurricane drinks for which the place is famous.
Preservation Hall – Scores of people descend on this spot, at 726 St. Peter St., nightly to hear traditional New Orleans jazz. A daytime stop affords a glimpse, through the big, ornate iron gate, of a lush tropical courtyard in back. Erle Stanley Gardner, the author who brought us Perry Mason, lived in an apartment above the Hall.
Lindy Boggs Home – Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote lived in this house, though not together (get your mind out of the gutter!). It’s owned by Lindy Boggs, a much-beloved local politician (and mother of NPR and ABC commentator Cokie Roberts), who took over her husband’s congressional seat after his death. After her last political appointment (U.S. special envoy to the Vatican), Boggs now lends her name and support to various causes around town, including the Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy and the Lindy Boggs Medical Center. (The latter has been closed since Katrina.)
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – For many years, this structure has been a bar (for the full story), but the legend is that Jean Lafitte and his pirates posed as blacksmiths here while using it as headquarters for selling goods they’d plundered on the high seas. It has survived in its original condition, reflecting the architectural influence of French colonials who escaped St. Domingue in the late 1700s.
It may be the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley, but that has not been documented. Unfortunately, the exterior has been redone to replicate the original brick and plaster, which makes it look fake (it’s actually not). Thankfully the owners haven’t chromed or plasticized the interior — it’s an excellent place to imagine life in the Quarter in the 19th century.
The Thierry House – This structure was built in 1814 and announced the arrival of the Greek Revival style of architecture in New Orleans. It was designed in part by 19-year-old architect Henry S. Boneval Latrobe, son of noted architect Benjamin H. B. Latrobe.
We saw some of this interesting security systems a few times. It really sort of tickled us for some reason. Not literally.
The garden next to the Beauregard-Keyes House.
Sailor Jerry promotional car.
How’s that for blown glass outdoor decor!
Esplanade (pronounced Es-pla-nade) Avenue, which served as the parade ground for troops quartered on Barracks Street. Along with St. Charles Avenue, it is one of the city’s most picturesque historic thoroughfares. Some of the grandest town houses built in the late 1800s grace this wide, tree-lined avenue.
Café du Monde – No trip to New Orleans is complete without a leisurely stop here for beignets and coffee.
For me, the workers at this Café du Monde was more exciting than the beignets. Every single one of them were Asian… and constantly busy not working. No one seemed to mind, it just was so odd. Sorry to say for all you die-hard Café du Monde lovers. I preferred Cafe Beignet. But that’s another post
St. Louis Cathedral – Although it is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the U.S., this is actually the third building erected on this spot — the first was destroyed by a hurricane in 1722, the second by fire in 1788. The cathedral was rebuilt in 1794; the central tower was later designed by Henry S. Boneval Latrobe, and the building was remodeled and enlarged between 1845 and 1851 under Baroness Pontalba’s direction. The bell and stately clock (note the nonstandard Roman numeral four), were imported from France.
I’ll end with this lovely aerial view of New Orleans taken from the hotel elevator. Capturing this shot was just as much a game of chance as actually getting the elevator with the view.