French Quarter Ironwork: monograms and initials

I have been gathering photos of different ironwork motifs in all four quadrants of the Quarter and will be researching them further when I am able to get to the wonderful HNOC’s Williams Research Center.

Over the next few weeks, I will list all of (17) monogram and initial motifs I have found – so far.

I have found them on Burgundy (2), Dauphine (1), Bourbon (1), Royal (4), Chartres (3), Saint Ann (1) and Saint Peter (3)- 1 at the Pontalbas and 2 different motifs on the Skyscraper at St Peter and Royal, on a modest brick house on Dumaine, where the AP scrollwork from the Pontalbas is on the gate transom of a house in mid block for some mysterious reason, and Esplanade (2). Most are found on second or third-story balconies, but a few are on front doors, and a few others are on a gate.

Thanks to The Collins C. Diboll Vieux Carré Digital Survey at HNOC I was able to research each location to see if I could find a likely reason that particular monogram or initial was added. I am also searching for other history books to find other information as needed so I will continue to refine and add to this list in the next few weeks to capture each monogram and its history.

 

Have been long confused by description of the Bosque House: “The central panel of the rail has a most graceful arrangement of scrolls in the character of the best 18th-century work and in an oval at the center appears the monogram of Bartholome Bosque, curiously backward when seen from the street.” It doesn’t seem backward any longer.

Yet, in the 1930s pictures of the scrollwork it does indeed look backward in the picture:

Love the description too:

The wrought iron railing of this balcony is perhaps the finest feature of the façade and is comparable to only three or four other examples in New Orleans — the Cabildo, the Pontalba House, and the Correjolles House at 715 Governor Nicholls. All these railings are of about the same date and are all probably the work of the same craftsman, who, in the case of the Cabildo and the Pontalba House is known to have been Marcellino Hernandez, a local blacksmith of great skill.

I went to look at 715 Governor Nicholls and its ironwork certainly resembles the Bosque House:

715 Governor Nicholls

Next up: the anthemion or palmette motif.

 

 

 

Ironwork: why?

The brilliant geographer/author Rich Campanella has shed so much light on many facets of New Orleans physical space that it is hard to separate what we knew before he began to teach us about our place and what we now know. Search his name on this blog and find the many pieces that have inspired me.
His latest in The Advocate on the ironwork that has become a signature of the city separates fiction (mythology may be more apt) from fact and is a good example of his gently musing writing style that is eminently approachable and therefore useful to a wide number of people.
I have begun to photograph and map the different ironwork designs around the Quarter, relying on his map from my favorite book of his, “Geographies of New Orleans” which has maps galore of structure styles, ethnographic clusters and much more.
One of those maps is recreated in The Advocate piece, a “heat map” of the many styles of ironwork found in the old quarter.
I’d like to ask him if he thinks this house was Pontalba’s home during the construction of the Jackson Square apartments and if that is why the same signature ironwork can be found on it.

“Why is New Orleans alone among American cities in its association with iron-lace galleries? To be sure, other 19th-century coastal and river cities also expressed their wealth through ornamental iron, oftentimes flamboyantly. Examples may be found in Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Baton Rouge, Natchez, Vicksburg, St. Louis, Natchitoches and Galveston, among others.
But New Orleans is the only American city where iron-lace galleries dominate entire streetscapes. At play are a number of variables. This city has long had an outdoor culture, not to mention a spectacle culture, and both are abetted by galleries and balconies, especially in a climate of hot summers and balmy winters.
The city’s Franco-Hispanic Afro-Caribbean heritage imparted it with a legacy of ironworking and ironworkers. Starting in the late 1700s, its many multistory brick edifices were structurally conducive to balcony and gallery installation, particularly in high-density urban environments.
Port activity made imports of pig iron cheap and available, and an abundance of local furnaces were in place to convert the metal into finished railings.”

Find my photographs using the ironwork search function on this blog.