Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Garden District Odyssey 2012

After spending the night in our haunted hotel room. We were anxious to finally get our tour of the Garden District. Many have asked what our unfinished business was in New Orleans from last year. Well, this is it.
The tour, of course,
 started in the Lafayette Cemetery, in the heart of the Garden District.
 I will share more gratuitous shots of the cemetery and the ornamentation there tomorrow though, since this post is already filled with many photos.

Ed had been a huge Ann Rice fan when she was writing all her vampire novels. And has followed her son Christopher Rice through his writing career as well. Many of their novels are based in the New Orleans area and they lived in the Garden District.
This was the home of Ann Rice during her vampire phase and where Cristopher grew up.
I love architecture and thought the tour of the district would be a good addition to my knowledge of the building traditions around the country.

As I've learned, most people think that New Orleans is mostly influenced by the French. Since Creole is a derivative of French. And it was founded by the French and they do have the French Quarter, that is an easy assumption to make.

However, since the area was traded back and forth between the French and the Spanish and then purchased by the Americans in a little something called the Louisiana Purchase, there is a mix of all sorts of architecture.

 The Garden District was settled by the Americans after the purchase and therefore has a strong "American" influence. And if you know anything about America, it is a melting pot of all people. Thus the homes that you see in this post are a mixture of styles as well.
 This home for example was built as a typical Georgian style home and later the round rooms with the windows on the corner were added on to it. (True American's can't leave anything alone)

 I know that it's called the Garden District and you would think in the garden, you'd see more flowers. Well, we did visit the area only six days after a major Hurricane blew through and unfortunately, the flowers all blew away.
 That didn't stop us from enjoying the fine architecture of these gorgeous homes.
 Each one has a beauty all it's own.
 A little known fact about the Garden District is that it was one of the first places in the South to give Black Slaves rights. You could still have them, but had to pay them and give them respectable places to live.

The loophole that was found was that those rules did not apply to the Irish. When the potato famine was driving Irishmen to the new world, they were drawn to New Orleans with the promise of 3 meals and a roof over their heads if they would work for free. Well, the roof wasn't anything more than a shed in the backyard most of the time the meals might have been some scraps left over from the family that had brought them there.

With that in mind walking around the district, you couldn't help but think that most  of it was built by those poor Irish immigrants.

 You can't tell from these photos just how devastated the area was from the hurricane. But trust me, there were trees down, power lines down, garbage piled up at the curbs and of all things, the flowers were all gone!
 Behind these beautiful Crepe Mertles is the home of John Goodman.
The Garden District is a nice place for people who love the ambiance of New Orleans but don't want to live in the busy French Quarter.

 Here's a great answer to the flooding problem. As my Dad always said, they built it "up stairs over and empty lot". Well, this one is enclosed at the bottom, it's not an empty lot.

But really, the Garden District and the French Quarter are the two areas that have not flooded with either Hurricane Katrina or the more recent Hurricane Isaac. The founders of the city never intended for people to live outside of those areas. How could they have known back then how many people would inhabit the world today. And how many people would love New Orleans so much that they'd want to call it home.

I'll leave you with this last home that is owned by Sandra Bullock. It was purchased right before her divorce from Jessy James and is currently being rented out to Leonardo DiCaprio while he is filming a movie in the New Orleans area.

I hope you have enjoyed this tour as much as we did.
 Tomorrow, Lafayette Cemetery#1, the only city of the dead where Hollywood is allowed to film anymore and thus, I'm sure you might recognize something there.


Jim said...

Fascinating looking homes!! What a mixture!
Did you know that the Acadians (the French in Nova Scotia) were driven from Nova Scotia by the British and sent south to this area and other places in the south. I have met folks here looking for their roots and a lot of surnames are the same....like LeBlanc for example.
Looking forward to the cemetery tomorrow.

MorningAJ said...

Interesting stuff! I love architecture and these are great exampls of what you've seen. What you're calling Georgian, we would call colonial. Our Georgian is much more like the brick one with the big portico - if you took the portico off!

Technically my house is Georgian, but only by date. It was a farm worker's cottage and isn't very grand at all.

Stew said...

The two are very similar and have more to do with symmetry and window size than the type of construction. I don't think either would be a wrong description in this case.

Who needs a grand house when the resident is so grand?!

Stew said...

Both Halifax and New Orleans were major entry points in the Americas. Detroit however, is just where they gave up and said "I can't go any further!"

Ms Sparrow said...

Wow, I have never seen this side of New Orleans before. All I see on the news are the devastated areas or the Mardi Gras scenes.
Thanks for the grand tour.

Stew said...

It's true there is plenty of devastation. But the fact is, New Orleans is alive and well. It's a great city.