Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The most perfect house, The New Orleans Creole cottage 1770-1860

A wonderful 1830's Creole Cottage on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter 

One of my favorite architectural styles in New Orleans is the Creole cottage. Creole cottage is a term loosely used to refer to a type of vernacular architecture indigenous to the Gulf Coast reign of the United States. Within this building type comes a series of variations and styles. The style was a dominant house type along the central Gulf Coast from about 1790 to 1840 in the former settlements of French Louisiana in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The style is popularly thought to have evolved from French and Spanish colonial house-forms, although the true origins are unclear. This type of house was common along the Gulf Coast and associated rivers in the 19th century with a few scattered examples found as far west as Houston, Texas and as far east as northern Florida, though the majority of structures are found in southern Louisiana eastward to Mobile, Alabama.





Creole cottages are scattered throughout the city of New Orleans, with most being built between 1790-1850. The majority of these cottages are found in the French Quarter, the surrounding areas of Faubourg Marigny, the Bywater and Esplanade Ridge. Creole Cottages are one and half story buildings, set at ground level. They have a steeply pitched roof, with a symmetrical four-opening facade wall, with a wood or stucco exterior. They are usually set close to the property line.



Two features of this style of house are thought to be influences from other places in France's former colonial empire. The full front porch is believed to originate from the Caribbean islands for cool shade for theses homes. while the high gabled roof, the ridge of which is parallel to the street, that accommodates the porch as well as the mass of the house is thought to be of French Canadian origin. In the earlier or more fundamental examples one or two main rooms may open directly onto the porch. They often feature an interior chimney that pierces the ridge line of the roof, with back-to-back fireplaces serving two rooms. Two common secondary characteristics of this style are a raised basement level and the front of the buildings are most often situated up to the property line.




In the city of New Orleans the term Creole cottage tends to be more narrowly defined as a1 1⁄2-story house with a gabled roof, the ridge of which is parallel to the street. The house normally has four squarish rooms with no hallways and is built up to the front property line. The primary difference between these cottages and those elsewhere is the lack of a full front porch.



www.rosetterochon.com/


 The Musée Rosette Rochon is projected to be a major historic house museum and a vital educational center for the Marigny and adjacent French Quarter, Tremé, and Bywater neighborhoods. It is an early antebellum home built for Rosette Rochon, a free businesswoman of color who amassed wealth and lived to about the age of one hundred. The house also has many remarkable details, being one of the most important early examples in New Orleans of architectural transition between Creole and American styles.
 
New Orleans has no museum devoted to the legacy of the city's antebellum free Black population, which was by far the wealthiest in the United States. The Rochon project is a non-profit foundation dedicated to the promotion of and the education about the history of Black people, women, business, the building trades, race relations, and the preservation of the city's unique Afro-Creole and African-American cultures. It will soon be part of a collection of drawings in a sketchbook titled "Color Me Creole" by the late local artist Lloyd Sensat.

www.rosetterochon.com/

Artwork I did for The Musée Rosette Rochon

www.rosetterochon.com/

The Story of Rosette Rochon

Marie Louise Rose - Rosette

 
She was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1767, and died in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 5, 1863. Her father, Pierre Rochon, was Mobile's first shipbuilder, a naval store supplier, and a planter. Her mother, Marianne, was a mulatto slave. Rosette was the youngest of six children, and was freed by her father in 1770. The Rochon family can be traced back to 1576 in France. After her father died in 1771, Rosette (age 5) and her family moved to New Orleans and bought property in the Vieux Carré on Rue St. Philip. Her brother fought in the War of 1812. Rosette lived through the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Haitian Revolution and the War Between the States.
 
She must have been a beauty - French, Negro and one-eighth Kaskasian Illinois Indian (Octoroon). As a young woman, she became involved with a certain M. Hardy - probably Jean Baptiste Hardy de Bois Blanc. A sojourn in Haiti follows where a son, Donatien Hardy, was born - he later became an official in the government. The unsettled conditions there may have prompted the return to New Orleans where a daughter, Zelime Hardy, was born. Later, a liaison occurs with Joseph Forstal, a White Creole of substance, and from that union, two sons and two daughters were born. Although Rosette was illiterate, all her children could read and write.
 
She was a woman of business who owned and operated grocery stores ("Victualler et Boucher" - 1822 Professional Directory, ed. Paxton), had a Spanish permit to brand cattle in Opelousas, bought and sold real estate, mortgages, slaves (freeing at least one - the woman, Orice, in 1835), had at least one bondsman, loaned or rented out slaves or labor as barter for firewood and candles. She loaned money at interest, built and sold or rented out fine buildings and rooms.
 
She was one of the first investors in the Faubourg Marigny, buying land on May 10, 1806. [The plan of the subdivision was presented to the city on March 16, 1806.] As one of the premier investors in the new Marigny suburb, Rochon contributed to the importance of the neighborhood, the city, and to the Creole culture. She was a well-to-do woman who succeeded in a man's world.
 
She was entombed in St. Louis No. 2 Cemetery in the fine tomb she had built for her son, Joseph Dorestan Forstal, the "Golden One." Paul Monsseaux was the sculptor.
 
Her legacy, the Musée Rosette Rochon, is one of the two last surviving structures she built.
 
Notes by Don G. Richmond




In the city of New Orleans the term Creole cottage tends to be more narrowly defined as a1 1⁄2-story house with a gabled roof, the ridge of which is parallel to the street. The house normally has four squarish rooms with no hallways and is built up to the front property line. The primary difference between these cottages and those elsewhere is the lack of a full front porch.






A similar house type that some architectural scholars believe is related to the Creole cottage is the Gulf Coast cottage. However, it is not clear if this type is derived from the Creole cottage or if it is a Deep South adaptation of a Tidewater-type cottage. They both display some of the general characteristics of a Creole cottage. In the more formal and later examples, a central hall is almost always present. These more formal examples began to appear in the 1820s and 1830s. They are typically larger with Federal or Greek Revival architectural influences not present in the simpler version. If a central hall is present, then usually it is entered via a central entrance. End-gable chimneys are often present rather than a central one.


















5 comments:

  1. I have to agree, what a great architectural form. Have you ever seen this New Orleans home? I feel like you would love it: http://jaynedesignstudio.com/projects/231

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  2. Hi JWC thanks for your comment! Yes I know the owners and have been invited to parties there.

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  3. They are adorable.. what are they like inside I wonder. Fabulous tour.. many thanks!

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  4. Hi lostpastremembered they are 4 room homes two in the front and two in the back with 4 small rooms up stairs. I will post the interior of one soon.

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