A six-piece bedroom suite, comprising a large half-tester bed, a duchesse or dressing table, two mirror-faced armoires, a washstand and a nightstand. Attributed to the warerooms of Prudent Mallard and made for Mrs. Magin Puig of 624 Royal.
A few days ago I attended the reopening of the 1850 House Museum ceremony. After a mold outbreak forced its closure in August, the Louisiana State Museum reopen its 1850 House attraction in the French Quarter.
The State Museum system mark the end of the nine-month hiatus with a grand reopening ceremony Tuesday (May 3) at 10:30 a.m. at the Lower Pontalba building.
A malfunctioning air-conditioning system spread mold spores through several sections of the 3,600 square-foot apartment, leading mold to colonize artifacts in the museum, which serves as a showcase for hundreds of antebellum antiques and pieces of artwork. After shutting down the attraction Aug. 3 to begin a remediation and cleanup, the State Museum system had planned to reopen it at the end of the month.
The 1850 House doesn’t represent any single family’s house, rather, it reflects mid-19th century prosperity, taste and daily life in New Orleans. The house is furnished with art and décor that speak to that era as well, including a set of John Slidell’s china, Old Paris porcelain, New Orleans coin silver and dozens of notable paintings and furnishings that, taken as a whole, transport you back in time.
The 1850 House is part of the Lower Pontalba building. Standing on opposite sides of Jackson Square, the Upper and Lower Pontalba buildings were designed and financed by the Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba. Her father, Don Andrés Almonester y Roxas, was a Spanish colonial landowner who helped finance The Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral and The Presbytère.
The Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba.
A 1830's portrait of a Creole
The Louisiana State Museum's 1850 House is an antebellum row house furnished to represent life in mid-nineteenth-century New Orleans. It is located at 523 St. Ann Street on Jackson Square in the French Quarter.
The Upper and Lower Pontalba Buildings, which line the St. Ann and St. Peter Street sides of Jackson Square, were built in 1850 by the Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba, the daughter of Don Andres Almonester y Roxas, the Spanish colonial landowner associated with the neighboring Cabildo, Cathedral and Presbytere. Inspired by the imposing Parisian architecture the Baroness favored, the distinctive rowhouses were intended to serve as both elegant residences and fine retail establishments.
In 1921 the Pontalba family sold the Lower Pontalba Building to philanthropist William Ratcliff Irby who subsequently, in 1927, bequeathed it to the State Museum.
Baroness Pontalba engaged noted local architect James Gallier, Sr. to design the row houses, though she dismissed him before construction was begun, and she employed Samuel Stewart as the builder. She also convinced authorities to renovate the Square, Cabildo and Presbytere, and church authorities to enlarge the Cathedral.
When the Pontalba buildings were completed in 1849 and 1851, each contained sixteen separate houses on the upper floors and self-contained shops on the ground floors. The "A and P" monograms that decorate the cast-iron railings signify the Almonaster and Pontalba families.
During the mid-19th century, the first floor of the Pontalba buildings housed businesses, including dry goods stores, clothing stores, law offices and even a bank and railroad company. Upstairs are the parlor, dining room and three bedrooms. The house also comprises a back wing (called the "kitchen building" in the builder's contract), which served a variety of purposes, including storage, additional workspace and housing for slaves or servants.
City directories from the 1850s and the 1860 census show that many Pontalba heads of household were merchants who were affluent enough to afford to rent in one of New Orleans's most fashionable locations. Children, slaves and servants completed the Pontalba household. An average of nine residents occupied each dwelling.
A six-piece bedroom suite, comprising a large half-tester bed, a duchesse or dressing table, two mirror-faced armoires, a washstand and a nightstand. Attributed to the warerooms of Prudent Mallard and made for Mrs. Magin Puig of 624 Royal depicted in the portrait over the mantel.
Members of the Soria family were merchants who came to New Orleans from New York to take advantage of the vast economic opportunities here. Like the majority of Pontalba residents, the Sorias were slave owners, their slaves numbering between five and eight.
Widow Amelia Zacharie Saul Cammack lived in the house with her son, Thomas Dixon Cammack, and three of her four daughters, Gertrude, Kate and Amelia. The family owned between three and seven slaves during their Pontalba residency. The arrangement of the living quarters roughly corresponds to the way the Cammacks lived from 1853 to 1856.
William G. Hewes moved here in 1856 with his two daughters, Caroline and Anna, and five slaves. Hewes was president both of a bank and of the New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad.
The Louisiana State Museum took possession of the building in 1927 and opened the 1850 House to the public in 1948. To illustrate the landmark's historical significance, the State Museum has re-created what one of the residences would have looked like during the Antebellum era when the Baroness Pontalba first opened her doors. Faithfully furnished with domestic goods, decorative arts and art of the period, the 1850 House depicts middle-class family life during the most prosperous period in New Orleans' history. Limited docent- and curator-led tours are available as is self-directed viewing.
Because residents of this row house were tenants who lived here for a few years at a time, the 1850 House does not represent any single family. Rather it reflects mid-nineteenth-century prosperity, taste, and daily life in New Orleans. Some pieces have a history of ownership in Louisiana, while local furniture shops made or sold others. The house comprises several revival styles that were popular in the 1850s, including rococo revival, Gothic revival, and classical revival.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser
Inspired by the imposing Parisian architecture the Baroness favored, the distinctive rowhouses were intended to serve as both elegant residences and retail establishments. In 1921, the Pontalba family sold the Lower Pontalba Building to philanthropist William Ratcliffe Irby, who bequeathed it to the Louisiana State Museum in 1927.
The "A and P" monograms that decorate the cast-iron railings signify the Almonaster and Pontalba families.
The tops of the copper downspouts were plated with 24k gold
The lady about was married to Samuel Stewart's many great grandsons. She donated the portraits of Samuel Stewart and his wife to the 1850 House.
A portrait of Samuel Stewart. Baroness Pontalba employed Samuel Stewart as the builder.
Ribbon cutting ceremony