Our friends we never met over at Maggies Farm have linked to my little riffs on American architecture. We like their boats, so we're going to put them in our blogroll. Anyway, they seem to like the odd and unusual building styles we've dredged up. And they had a question about the provenance of a building in New Orleans. I don't care if they were fooling; I'm going to answer it anyway.
We've lost our minds about New Orleans before here on this page.
Good Morning America, How Are You
Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?
Crescent City Fais Do Do
At any rate, the picture of the building in the Vieux Carre in New Orleans on Maggies Farm is an example of another pre-Victorian style we need to cover: French Colonial. And if you're talking about French Colonial, you're basically talking about New Orleans. So let's. It's such an ancient and wonderful cock-up of a place. It's nasty and marvelous and sedate and wild and eternal and ephemeral and every other damn thing. And right from the get-go, it was French.
For the most part, French Colonial doesn't exist anymore. It's like New Orleans. Ancient, but burned, flooded, looted, neglected, and occasionally so overrun by attention that there's next to nothing of it left, unless you look for ghosts. I do.
New Orleans is full of the ghosts of French Colonial architecture.
The real thing doesn't look all that much like Bourbon Street: It looked like this:
That's the Olivier House. Its original owner was born in Lyon, France. That's French. It's being demolished when these pictures were taken 60 years ago. it was built in 1820, but the style was even older. It's a French Colonial Plantation house. You could probably find something similar in Vietnam or Africa somewhere.
The real estate under it was too valuable to keep it standing inside the city limits. Its ghost is underneath numerous houses over a number of city blocks now. Here's how the French did it differently than their English counterparts up north:
- Lots of doorways leading outside
- Stairways outside, not in interior stairwells
- Rooms enfilade, opening one into another without hallways linking them
- Double doors and windows and shutters
- Big gallery porches under a roof
- Interior courtyards
- Slave quarters and kitchens in outbuildings
That's the Gaillard House. 1820s. Has that continental medieval look to it . Fronts right on the street. Skinny, paired doors and windows with shutters for privacy. Attached to its neighbors. It turns its back on the street and shelters a courtyard in the back, like many city properties do to this very day:
D'Artagnan, is that you? Not shabby inside:
The stories that come out of the mists for these buildings boggle the mind. We're running long, and late today. Tune in again and read about:
Friday: The ballroom that burned down before it was built.
Monday: The Confederate general and the mafia
Tuesday: Judge Wisdom, and Master Builder, Contractor, and Undertaker Charles Pride.