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.

 

 

 

Shutdown catch up

There is always renovation in the Quarter, but Mary’s Ace Hardware on Rampart says that right now it’s the bar owners, restauranteurs, and homeowners who outnumber the usual contractors coming in to their well-stocked, 2-story establishment.

The few contractors who are coming in to the Quarter tell me that their stress level is lower than usual, thanks to fewer people and sparse traffic.

For example, the guys replacing the old rusted gallery posts for new ones at the hotel on Saint Ann pulled right up on Saturday morning, puzzled out their strategy without having to stop every few minutes to let pedestrians or cars pass which meant the majority of the tricky and heavy work was done toot sweet. And even though clearly exhausted, the guys were more relaxed than usual at the end of their long day.

Some of these projects began long before the shut down, some will be happening even when the festivals return, but all of these workers and owners are using the time and space this shutdown has provided.

#nolacorona

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worker trucks out number out of state plates

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This project may not be permanent; i don’t see any language on their visible permits that allowed these boxes to be built where there had been a window or door recess. (the hotel has had a lot of trouble with street folks sleeping here for the last few years so I assume that was why it was done.)

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Upper Pontalba begins some repairs on their fascia

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This guy has been working on this front steadily since the shutdown.

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Dauphine post work across from Matassa’s Market.

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The ongoing saga of the Saint Ann ditch

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soapy saint ann

 

Bourbon Postal building gets some work done while the schoolyard is available.

Elizabeth Werlein, “Mayor to the French Quarter”

 

A portrait of Elizebeth Werlein by artist Maddie Stratton of Where Y’Art, as commissioned by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune for its “300 for 300” celebration of New Orleans’ tricentennial. (NOLA.com)

 

“What I do for the Vieux Carre is prompted solely by my interest in saving this living museum by any means in my power.” — Elizebeth T. Werlein, in a 1943 letter to the editor of The Times-Picayune

  • She was born in 1883 in Bay City, Michigan, the daughter of Henry Thomas and Marie Louise Felton Smith Thomas.
  • Her father was a dynamite manufacturer.
  • She was an accomplished soprano, having studied voice in Paris under famed Polish tenor Jean de Reszke.
  • She loved adventure and was said to have been one of the first women to ride in a hot-air balloon, as well as one of the first women to ride in an airplane. She also took several big-game hunting trips in Africa. In 1917, she became chairwoman of a committee to establish airplane landing fields in Louisiana.
  • From 1924 to 1930, she worked as the head of public relations for the Saenger company, the multi-state movie theater chain headquartered in New Orleans.
  • She would go on to become head of the Louisiana Women’s Suffrage Party and the first president of the Louisiana League of Women Voters.
  • Around 1916, she wrote and published a booklet titled “Wrought Iron Railings of the Le Vieux Carre in New Orleans.” She would later help found the Quartier Club, a group of women united in a desire to preserve the French Quarter.
  • She pushed for the Legislature to grant regulatory power to the group that would become the Vieux Carre Commission and was a founder of the neighborhood watchdog group Vieux Carre Property Owners Association.

Other items about Werlein:

Mayor Robert A. Maestri called her the “mayor to the French Quarter.” 

In 1938, when she became dissatisfied with what she considered to be the VCC’s indifference, Werlein became the founding president of a neighborhood watchdog group called the Vieux Carré Property Owners Association, now known as VCPORA. In that role she convinced Mayor Robert Maestri to strengthen VCC regulations and increase police enforcement of quality-of-life issues. According to fellow preservationist Martha Gilmore Robinson, Werlein “virtually policed the Quarter—urging property owners to restore their buildings, persuading others to remove trash and litter and inspiring many creative and influential people with her drive and spirit.”

For all her successes she did encounter failure, “Werlein — and consequently the city — lost several skirmishes against businessmen whose encroachment caused gerrymandering of the French Quarter to exclude their project from the Vieux Carre Commission controls.”  There were numerous demolitions in this vicinity before litigation took place declaring these exclusions unconstitutional.

Werlein’s front door today:

 

Elizabeth’s daughter was also impressive:

Carter, Betty Werlein

Ca­bildo and Presbytère renovation

With the best of intentions, workers applied elastomeric coatings to the Ca­bildo around 1998 and the Presbytère in 2004. Around the same time, the Old Ursuline Convent in New Orleans and the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge received similar applications. But what was first seen as a state-of-the-art technique soon turned out to be a preservationist’s nightmare. As it turns out, exterior masonry and stucco require a certain amount of moisture to main­tain their structural integrity; without it, the exterior cracks and crumble.

“Elastomeric coats are designed to exclude water from buildings, and in theory they don’t cause problems as long as all water is excluded from en­tering a building. But that is impossible to do,” said Cangelosi. “Water can come from rising damp, hairline cracks, movement, interior sources includ­ing condensations, failure of adhesion of the stucco and other sources. And once in the moisture is in, it cannot escape, as the coating is designed to prevent the transmission of moisture.”

Trapped behind the paint, this moisture has no place to go except through the building’s interior plaster walls. But before this was realized, damage had been done. The Old Louisiana State Capitol building was one of the earliest buildings in Louisiana to report damage after it was discovered that the elastomeric coatings had been the culprit behind decay caused by trapped moisture within the building walls.

“Historic buildings and their fabric must be able to breathe,” Cangelosi said. “History has shown that any product which prevents that will have an adverse effect.”

Elastomeric coatings did not go from panacea to poison overnight, of course. But by 2005, the Vieux Carré Commission (VCC) rejected the Ur­suline Convent’s request to repaint an elastomeric fence. Staff analysts con­cluded that such paints “are disastrously inappropriate for historic masonry walls and structures in all high humidity/high temperature climates and especially in sub-tropical and tropical climes like New Orleans.”

These words proved prophetic, and work to remove the elastomeric coat­ings on the Cabildo and the Presbytère began in 2014. By that point, the dam­age done to those buildings by the coatings was severe. “”I received a video early one morning from someone passing the Cabildo as parts of it literally were exploding off the building as the trapped moisture was trying to escape,” Cangelosi said. “Not only did it cause extensive damage to the building, but someone could have been seriously hurt.” Koch and Wilson Architects was selected to oversee the work of associated waterproofing at the Cabildo, and Jahncke & Burns Architects was chosen as the architect of record for the work of advanced waterproofing at the Presbytère. Associated Waterproofing is the contractor of work on the Cabildo, and Advance Waterproofing LLC served as general contractor for the Presbytère‘s first phase of work.

At first, the plan was to remove the coating from only the front façade of each building. As the work proceeded, however, it quickly became clear that not only would the other sides of the buildings need to be stripped, but that stucco and masonry underneath the elastomeric coatings had suffered extensive structural damage and would need repair.

 

 

https://prcno.org/triage-jackson-square/

724 St. Philip rebuilds after illegal teardown

The destruction of a historic structure is being rescued by new owner Vincent Marcello who is doing a nice job on the reno:

The stages
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700 Royal

pics: May 2016, September 2016 and January 2017.

Original story from 2015:

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The bricks for 724 St. Philip street were laid down in the 1820s, and in 1917 three Sicilian brothers by the family name of Montalbano purchased the small house from a widow and set up shop.

The front of the house became a delicatessen, and the back a grocery. The shop became known for the “Roma Sandwich” or the modern day muffuletta. The back room was filled with holy pictures and was allegedly bless by the Pope.

Leslie Perrin moved in next door at 728 St. Philip in 2000 and recalls the cast of “King Creole” lining up around the block to experience the original muffuletta.

The building is now owned by Larry Anderson, who obtained permits for interior renovations but demolished the entire building.

When the common wall between 724 and 728 St. Philip came tumbling down the residents became suspicious.

“At some point I said, ‘I need to see some engineering, where are the plans that you promised me?'” Perrin’s contractor husband Chuck remembers. “I wanted to see what the city has approved, you know, ‘how are you going to do it?’ And they kept saying well, I’ll bring them over tomorrow.”

But the proof of license never came.

According to Meg Lousteau, Executive Director of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates, there were never permits. And Anderson did not show up to his hearing — his contractor did on his behalf.

The fine: $6,000. A small price to pay for destroying a piece of history that makes up the fabric of the neighborhood.

 

Story since Marcello bought from Anderson:

The VCC’s Architectural Committee said a new, two-story cottage that Marcello said he plans to build behind the building’s façade would be “decidedly reminiscent of a Creole townhouse.” The new building would be similar to the small masonry cottage that was originally erected at the location and later connected to the carriage house.

“There are historical elements of the building in the front that are still existing, and we plan to try to work with that to make a seamless transition,” Marcello said about his concept, which includes batten shutters, traditionally used on outbuildings, and restoration of the original millwork.

A Closer Walk

See what happens when good people get together over music? They come up with something like this, a site dedicated to listing the musical history of our city, place by place.

Jazz, big band, gospel, soul, brass bands, funk, blues, second-lines, hip-hop, bounce, r&b, pop, zydeco, rock, classical all have substantial roots here in the Crescent City. This site will do more than just set tourists to a wandering around; as a visual map, it can help save some of these places and to connect the dots about the development of some of America’s greatest art forms.

The A Closer Walk (ACW) project and site is presented by WWOZ New Orleans and produced by five partners: Bent Media, e/Prime Media, the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation, Randy Fertel and WWOZ.

https://acloserwalknola.com/

Imagining the Creole City: The Rise of Literary Culture in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: Review

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One relevant reason for this book is the recently reignited protests centering on race inequities and immigration across America, a conversation that is always sadly necessary in the American South. Local historian Rien Fertel addresses it by writing about the elite Creole literary circle that, starting in the 1820s/1830s, largely created and sustained the story of the region’s “exceptionalism.” That era of virtuous manifest destiny – not just in the South of course- is largely to blame for the lack of understanding among those who continue to grow up amid their own ethnic myths in the U.S.

For New Orleans, most people know the story of Creole culture only through Creoles of color who continue to inhabit the city, partly because they are largely responsible for much of what we continue to value culturally in New Orleans such as live music, public and family culture, and informal Carnival activities. But it is also convincingly identified here as resulting from the profiled writers unapologetic and sometimes incorrect assertion of their whiteness and its embedded privileges during Reconstruction through the turn of the 20th century. Yet the historical details contained here give those actions context and perspective; Fertel’s description of the politics of post-Louisiana Purchase New Orleans and the concern from the White House on any potential allegiance to the Old World as partially responsible for the Creoles’ sensitivity about the eclipse of their history is especially informative.

By offering individual profiles of prominent writers of Creole history starting with eminent historian Charles Gayarré, “Transcendentalist” New Orleans Choctaw missionary Adrien Rouquette and through those writers who took up the “cause” in the 20th century, including Grace King, Robert Tallant and Lyle Saxon, Fertel offers a human-scaled trek through that complicated history and time. Having the book end with the profile of George Washington Cable and his more inclusive history of the city,  he shows the reordering of history that began with Cable as well as the tension among writers, which (partly) led to Cable’s self-imposed exile from the city. Fertel does his best to fairly catalogue both good and bad (or the long and the short) of that tension; for example, he shares how Grace King’s later-in-life acknowledgement of Cable’s value to the city showed the potential for change among those earlier devoted only to the “gallant” Creole story.

The details gathered by many of these writers will continue to offer us a rich tapestry of Louisiana life and cannot be entirely eclipsed by their love of heroic epics or even their insistence on racial “purity” and entitlement that belied the truth that existed in the tumultuous and complicated times of Jim Crow’s America. Yet, the dismissal of most of these writers works in the last 50 years as provincial cheerleading with either a stated or unstated allegiance to the “Lost Cause” should be a lesson in these Tea Party days and is vitally important for any writer in these times to consider.

 

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