ROAD TRIP: NEW ORLEANS IN JULY, PART I: WALKING IN THE GARDEN DISTRICT

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Through the years I have been to New Orleans many times and on each trip, the experience has been totally different.  There is always something to do; a new dining experience; old favorites to revisit or new memories to be made.  Recently when my son, Steve, called to ask if I would come for a weeklong visit with his family, my immediate response was “Come and get me!”  Only on this trip my time in New Orleans would be different.  There would be no Bourbon Street bars, no beinets at Café Du Monde, no Audubon Zoo, nor Aquarium, no French Market, no strolls down Royal Street, no Super Dome……. It was to be more, specifically time with Steve and his family, wife Andrea Tanet Hemperley, and children, Emy, Tucker and Max.  And, oh yes, his hairy kids, Cane, an English Lab and that funny, spunky Cairne Terrier named Jax.

Steve lives in the Garden District of New Orleans and while he is just a few blocks off St. Charles Avenue, he had told me of the walking tours that passed on his street visiting the historic district which is a mecca for some of the most beautiful homes in the city.  Originally the wealthier citizens who did not want to live in the French Quarter with the Creoles lived on  plantations with large tracts for their homes featuring beautiful gardens; thus the name, Garden District. Today the district is known for the beautiful architecturally designed homes which are on much smaller lots with manicured yards, cast iron fences and majestic oak trees.

Sunday morning found most everyone sleeping in; that is everyone but Steve, Jax and I.  The morning was cool (unlike most days which are horribly hot due to humidity) so I decided Jax and I would take a stroll.

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Jax was comfortably resting on the sofa until the leash came out and boy did he know what that meant! Out the door, we began our walk on Prytania Street which is home for celebrities Drew Brees, Anne Rice, Nicholas Cage, and the Mannings, Eli, Peyton and Archie.  While I don’t know the addresses of these people, Sandra Bullock maintains a residence within sight of Steve’s “stoop”.

Sandra Bullock's home

Most of the homes are of Gothic Revival style; many have beautiful gingerbread trim; most have oaks that have endured hurricanes for years.  Homes with iron fences and bright colors are also along our route.  Here are a few photos of homes Jax and I passed on our stroll.

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Although difficult to see in this photo this home has a playhouse built like a castle in the back.

Susie Higginbotham has been researching someone in her family tree that, according to a census, lived on St. Charles Avenue. I was able to locate that home for her.
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Back on Fourth Street I discovered this cornstalk and morning glory designed iron fence and while I failed to notice the first walk by, it actually had corn growing in a small portion of the fence.

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The lot the cornstalk fence surrounds actually has more than one home; one of Gothic Revival and this modern home. Many of the historic homes have placques that displays the original owner’s name, date built, and other pertinent information. Below is a photo of the one by the cornstalk fence.

Col. Short placque

Translated it reads: Colonel Short’s Villa built in 1859 for Colonel Robert H. Short of Kentucky, Commission Merchant. Henry Howard, Architect, Robert Huyghe, Builder. In 1832 this property, which was a part of the Livaudais Plantation, was subdivided into city squares. September 1, 1863 the house was seized by the Federal Forces occupying the city property of an absent Rebel. In March 1864 the house briefly served as the executive mansion of the newly elected Federal Governor of Louisiana, Michael Hahn. It then became the residence of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, U. S. Commander, Department of the Gulf. On August 15, 1865 the house was returned to Colonel Short by the U. S. Government and he lived in it until his death in 1890. An addition was made in 1906 and the house restored in 1950. The unusual cast iron morning glory and cornstalk fence was furnished by the Philadelphia Foundry of Wood and Miltenberger.

Jax and I also passed one of the Cities of the Dead, Lafayette Cemetery #1 which opened in 1833. Burials here are in wall vaults as is the case in most areas of South Louisiana due to the water table being so high. Anne Rice created a fictional tomb here for one of her books. She also staged a jazz funeral where she rode in a glass enclosed coffin down the aisle of the cemetery to introduce her book, Memnoch the Devil. The movies Double Jeopardy and Dracula 2000 were filmed within the cemetery. Musical videos by LeAnn Rimes and New Kids on the Block were also made at Lafayette Cemetery #1.

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Back home after our long walk, Jax drank lots of water and then curled up on the couch with Steve, who was sleeping, for a nice long nap.

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I got another cup of coffee and reflected on what a beautiful day it was. We had seen tourist snapping photos along the route, joggers, dog walkers, and passed a coffee shop where customers sat outside reading the paper or having breakfast. How nice it had been to see another side of New Orleans. Who knew what tomorrow would bring? Ah, but you will soon know when I post Road Trips: New Orleans in July, Part II.

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2 comments on “ROAD TRIP: NEW ORLEANS IN JULY, PART I: WALKING IN THE GARDEN DISTRICT

  1. I enjoyed this Kookie. We have driven through the Garden District many times but never walked through it. Thanks for the pictures and stories. Betty Crain

  2. Can’t wait to see Part II!! Such beautiful homes, and thanks for finding the house for me.

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