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If Walls Could Talk: New Orleans Architecture Itinerary

New Orleans’ varied buildings showcase history, art, and culture at once.

Anne Rice's house, amid the oaks of the Garden District. (Photo via Flickr user Angela N.)

Creole town homes, Greek Revival-style mansions, the Spanish architectural flavor of the French Quarter — as our recent video suggests, New Orleans’ varied buildings showcase history, art, and culture at once. If architecture happens to be your thing, keep scrolling.

New Orleans Architecture Itinerary

A glimpse at the 1850 house. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Start with historic home tours

The 1850 House –To get a real sense of stepping back into the past while in New Orleans, try a visit to the 1850 House. This antebellum home is a reflection of the city’s antebellum past. The 1850 House is part of the Lower Pontalba building, which is on the opposite side of Jackson Square from its sibling, the Upper Pontalba. Both were designed and financed by the Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba, whose family literally shaped New Orleans’ cityscape. Her father, Don Andrés Almonester y Roxas, was a Spanish colonial landowner who helped finance The Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, and The Presbytère.

  • Where: 523 St. Ann St.
  • When: Open Tues.- Sun., 10:00 a.m – 4:30 p.m
Degas House on Esplanade Avenue. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Degas House — This home again shows that New Orleans has always been a city tied to vast networks (culinarily, artistically, economically) throughout the rest of the world—the Degas House is the only former home and studio of the French master painter Edgar Degas that is open to the public anywhere in the world. This home, which was built around 1852, is only minutes from the French Quarter. If you want the full experience, the Degas House is accepting inquiries about overnight stays.

  • Where: 2306 Esplanade Avenue
  • When: Tour Times are daily at 10:30 a.m and 1:45 p.m
Gallier House. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Gallier House — In a city rich in architecture and architects, James Gallier and his son James Jr. stand out as two of the most important of the antebellum era. Emblematic of their style and talent is the Gallier House—a “home of their own”—that they designed in 1857 when both were at the height of their architectural powers. But the Gallier House, which you can visit on a virtual tour as well as in-person, is only one amongst the set of the Herman-Grima and Gallier Houses.

  • Where: 820 St. Louis Street and 1132 Royal Street
  • When: More info available here 
It’s gorgeous at the Longue Vue House and Gardens. So make sure your camera or cell has plenty of juice and room for Instagram-worthy pics. (Photo By: Rebecca Ratliff)

Longue Vue House & Gardens — Located in a lush eight acres of gardens just off Metairie Road, the Longue Vue House is a stunning mansion and house museum. This historic estate functions as one of the city’s prime educational and cultural resources, and it’s open for tours seven days a week; what’s more, there are special events that happen throughout the year.

  • Where: 7 Bamboo Road
  • When: Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m, Sunday 1:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m.
Objects inside Madame John’s Legacy. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Madame John’s Legacy — New Orleans has been through a great deal in its long and complex history, and what we know today as Madame John’s Legacy has been through two major fires: it survived the 1794 fire that ravaged much of the city, and while it was destroyed in another fire in the early 1880s, the building emerged from the aftermath of that and into its current construction today: the main house, the kitchen with cook’s quarters, and the two-story dependency. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, Madame John’s Legacy is a premier example of Louisiana-Creole 18th century residential design.

  • Where: 632 Dumaine Street
  • When: Tuesdays — Sundays 10:00 a.m.— 4:30 p.m.

Check out famous properties

While you might not be able to get the kind of intimate, experiential access to the celebrity homes that you will get with the aforementioned tours, the celebrity homes of New Orleans are an important part of the architectural makeup of the city. Here are a few that we suggest:

  • The Anne Rice House. It’s currently up for sale for a reported $2.65 million, but you can see why with its major curb appeal1239 First St.

    Anne Rice’s house, amid the oaks of the Garden District. (Photo via Flickr user Angela N.)
  • The Tennessee Williams Homes. No, the plural isn’t a typo. Williams’ love affair with this city led him to taking up residency all over the oldest European part of the city, the French Quarter. Wander from one to the other here and here, etc.
  • The Brangelina House. The former star couple put their gorgeous New Orleans home up for sale in May 2015. And it’s an incredible property nestled right in the French Quarter—and the last listing I could find was for $4.9 million. 521 Governor Nicholls St.
Check out the amazing housewares selection at Bryan Batt’s Hazelnut uptown on Magazine Street. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Bring New Orleans back home

While you could spend your entire visit checking out the charming, distinct neighborhoods and their attendant architectural styles, New Orleans is also replete with the things that we fill homes with: art, furniture, antiques, and all sorts of other intriguing and attractive objects. Magazine Street and Royal Street have a far reaching and well deserved reputation for homeware, but it certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on shopping options. Check out boutiques and galleries in the Bywater along Saint Claude Avenue, or on Oak Street.

Christopher Garland lives in the Lower Garden District, where he enjoys evening strolls, happy-hour beer, and close proximity to the basketball court at the corner of Magazine and Napoleon. An Assistant Professor of Writing, Christopher reads and writes for work and pleasure. Find him on Instagram, @cjgarland12.

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