New Orleans has a deep, rich history that is shown not only through our culture and way of life, but also in our unique, historic architecture. Previously in our series on iconic New Orleans houses, a run-down on the ins and outs of the ever-popular New Orleans style home, the shotgun house, was covered and this week we’ll explore another quintessential Big Easy style home, the Creole cottage.
Though more rare than “shotgun” houses, Creole cottages can still be found in just about every neighborhood in the city. These romantic, charming residences, first built by French colonists at the end of the eighteenth century, are one of the founding members of the New Louisiana’s architectural vernacular. In more rural areas, porches generally shade the fronts of Creole Cottages, but in New Orleans, where space is at a premium, some Creoles open directly onto the sidewalk. One of the most frequented bars in the French Quarter, Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, is one of the city’s oldest examples.
Spanning anywhere from one to four rooms wide, two key elements distinguish these cottages from the more prevalent shotgun style: 1) a roof line that runs side to side or parallel to the street and 2) a second “half story” where diminutive bedrooms can be fitted directly under the steeply pitched, gabled roof, and where dormer windows bring in light.
Creole facades run the gamut from austere plaster to ornate gingerbread. Inside, traditional elements like shutters, French doors, tall windows and ceilings, wood floors and mantles are typical of public rooms downstairs. Like shotguns, Creole rarely have hallways between rooms. The result is an extremely efficient use of space, the kind that may inspire visitors to want to chuck their lawn mowers and larger houses in favor of these distinct, enchanting homes.
Lagniappe: Four More Great New Orleans “Creoles”
1. The Creole Creamery. The Creole Creamery makes locally made ice cream, booth and table seating available. It is located at 4924 Prytania Street in Uptown New Orleans and in Lakeview at 6260 Vicksburg St.
2. Creole Cream Cheese. Slightly sweeter and tarter than regular cream cheese, Creole cream cheese is spreadable on toast and also used in desserts and as a popular ice cream flavor. Creole cream cheese is available in most local supermarkets.
3. The Creole Cottage. This shabby chic New Orleans shop sells “Upcycled Furnishings,” located at 1532 Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District.
4. “My Creole Belle” written and sung by legendary bluesman Mississippi John Hurt.