What's the history of the house at 2115 Prytania St., which had a massive fire last January? I believe it's a historic house built by Boss Tammany. Can you fill us in?
The home on Prytania Street was designed by Benjamin Morgan Harrod and was constructed in 1871 by builders Robert Huyghe and Ambrose Burton. The house was built for Edward Ivy at a cost of $9,800. It had a two-level gallery, which was typical of other houses in the area, but the pairing of the columns was unusual.
To my knowledge, there was never a "Boss Tammany." There was, however, a Boss Tweed. His name was William Tweed, and he was a corrupt politician who became the so-called boss of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in the politics of 19th-century New York City and state.
The Tammany Society, founded in 1789, drew its name from a respected Delaware Indian chief, Tammend or Tamanend, who reportedly befriended William Penn. Originally, the society was a patriotic and charitable organization, but it became synonymous with New York's Democratic Party. In the 1830s, the group's headquarters was established in Tammany Hall.
Our Louisiana connection to Tammany came in 1810 when President James Madison claimed west Florida as part of Louisiana and sent Gov. William C.C. Claiborne to claim the territory. Claiborne established the boundaries of the Florida Parishes and created St. Tammany Parish. He named the parish for the Delaware chief, conferring sainthood on him at the same time.
It's too bad the house on Prytania Street was lost, because architect Harrod was a gentleman of great distinction. Born in 1837, he was educated by private tutors, who prepared him for Harvard, from which he earned a degree in 1859.
Shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, Harrod returned to New Orleans and enlisted as a private in the Crescent Rifles. He rose to the rank of first lieutenant and was with Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee during the surrender at Appomattox, Va., which led to the end of the Civil War.
Harrod's work in architecture and engineering began in earnest in 1866, and he designed many houses and warehouses during the next 10 years. He went on to create a number of lasting monuments including, in 1874, the design for the Confederate Monument that marks a mass grave of 600 soldiers in Greenwood Cemetery. Harrod also laid out Metairie Cemetery using an existing horse racing course and designed the early — now demolished — entry gates.
From 1877-1880, Harrod was chief engineer for the state of Louisiana and was New Orleans' city engineer from 1888-1902. During his tenure working forthe city, he designed firehouses, bridges and railroad tracks. In this capacity, he also was the chief engineer in charge of constructing the New Orleans' water and sewerage systems.
In the early 1890s, he partnered with Paul Andry and formed the firm of Harrod and Andry. The partners designed buildings for the Orleans School Board and many of the buildings on the Tulane University campus.
Harrod also was a consulting engineer for the Delgado Art Museum — now the New Orleans Museum of Art — which exhibited his art collection.
In 1902, Harrod was among the first men President Theodore Roosevelt appointed to the Panama Canal Commission, but he never saw that project completed. Harrod died in 1912 and was buried in Metairie Cemetery.