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Madame John’s Legacy

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c. 1730; 1789 rebuilt, Robert James; 1971–1972 restored, Waggonner and Ball Architects. 632 Dumaine St.
  • (Photograph by Joan Kay)
  • (Library of Congress, Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston)

This complex, including a house, kitchen, and garçonnière organized around an L-shaped courtyard, is an important example of Creole architecture. Originally freestanding and set farther back on the lot, the house was reconstructed for Spanish officer Don Manuel de Lanzos by Anglo-American builder Robert James from materials salvaged after the citywide fire of 1788. James followed the pre-fire design, incorporating the original foundations, walls, and iron hardware. The house is raised on a brick basement with heavy batten doors that lead to service rooms and a loggia at the rear, framed at each end by cabinets. The upper floor, of brick-between-posts construction covered on the outside with wide, beaded, horizontal boards, is shaded by a six-bay gallery supported on turned, shaped colonnettes. The double-pitched roof, over Norman trusses, has two dormer windows. Rooms are arranged en suite without hallways, in the Creole fashion. A restoration in the 1990s returned the house to the original paint colors: white at first level, moss green doors, and oxblood red sides. Believed to have been built by sea captain Jean Pascal, the house was occupied by his widow until 1771. Its name is said to derive from George Washington Cable’s short story “Tite Poulette,” which is about a quadroon called Madame John. Artist Morris Henry Hobbs lived in the house in the early 1940s. The last owner, Stella H. Lemann, bequeathed the residence to the Louisiana State Museum in 1947, which maintains it; the house is open to the public. The elegant window and shutter details as well as the beautiful hardware match those on the contemporaneous Pitot House (OR73).

Writing Credits

Author: 
Karen Kingsley and Lake Douglas
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Data

Timeline

  • 1729

    Built
  • 1789

    Rebuilt
  • 1971

    Restored

What's Nearby

Citation

Karen Kingsley and Lake Douglas, "Madame John’s Legacy", [New Orleans, Louisiana], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/LA-02-OR21.

Print Source

buildings of new orleans book

Buildings of New Orleans, Karen Kingsley and Lake Douglas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 36-37.

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