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Blake Pontchartrain: The Carroll-Crawford House 

From sugar to cotton to Dixie beer

click to enlarge blake-160802-1.jpg

Hey Blake,

What do you know about the Carroll-Crawford House on First Street? I wonder about it every time I walk by.

Dear reader,

Entire books have been written about the history and architecture of the homes in New Orleans' Garden District. The home you ask about, a beautiful Italianate-style mansion at First and Chestnut streets, could fill a couple paragraphs on its own.

  According to the Historic District Landmarks Commission, the general boundaries of the Garden District are Magazine, Josephine, Carondelet and Delachaise Streets. The neighborhood grew out of land that made up the sugar plantation owned by Jacques Livaudais. The plantation was sold in 1832 to a group of investors and lots were put up for sale in what was termed Faubourg Livaudais. Soon, the area joined with two smaller faubourgs to become the City of Lafayette. It was annexed by the City of New Orleans in 1852. The 1840s and '50s were a time of great prosperity which saw many of the American merchants of the city build ornate homes in the neighborhood. Many of them featured lush gardens, which led to the area's name. The Garden District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.

  The home at 1315 First St., known for its beautiful iron lace galleries, was designed in 1869 by architect Samuel Jamison. The first owner was Joseph Carroll, a Virginian who became one of the city's most successful cotton merchants. According to the Preservation Resource Center, the home was later owned by R.M. Walmsley, whose grandson, T. Semmes Walmsley, would go on to serve as mayor from 1929 to 1936.

  In 1920, the home was sold to Valentine Merz, the founder of Dixie Brewery. In 1932, the house changed hands again, purchased by engineer Charles Crawford. Crawford's sister Josephine was a well-known French Quarter artist of the 1920s and '30s. In 2003, arts patron Allison Kendrick purchased the home and hired noted designer Richard Keith Langham to redecorate the interior.

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