New Orleans loves to celebrate the weird and wonderful across all periods of time, from vampires to Voodoo — but dolls and frogs? For this week’s GoNOLA Find, we visit the historic House of Broel on St. Charles Avenue, where you’ll find both.
Nestled in the beautiful Garden District neighborhood, this almost doll-like Victorian mansion owned and operated by caretaker and curator Bonnie Broel is a popular wedding and party venue, as it was intended when it was constructed in the 1850s. The lavish and ornate woodwork within the home is a treat for architectural enthusiasts, but the real treasures lie on the second floor.
Venture upstairs and you will find the dollhouse museum, Broel’s own private collection of more than 60 miniature houses. Extremely detailed and historically accurate in structure and design, these model homes depict an era of time past. Other fabulous antique furniture can be found around the home, as well as the unusual frog farm museum in which Broel’s father played an important role in developing.
Popular in the Depression era, frog farming and canning were thought to be quick and efficient ways to make money, simply by raising frogs and selling them to expensive restaurants for their popular frog legs dishes. Sadly, the frog farming business never fully took off.
The next time you want to take a trip off the beaten path and explore something unusual, step into the past at the House of Broel. The house is open for tours Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at a cost of $10 for adults and $5 for children.