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Blake Pontchartrain: The Saulet Plantation 

From Bienville to Schwegmann

click to enlarge The Saulet was named after the family whose plantation once encompassed the land in the Lower Garden District.

Photo by Kandace Power Graves

The Saulet was named after the family whose plantation once encompassed the land in the Lower Garden District.

Hey Blake,

What can you tell me about the history of the Saulet Plantation?

Drew

Dear Drew,

  When talking about the Saulet Plantation, first we have to delve into the early history of the area now known as the Lower Garden District, where the plantation was located. After founding New Orleans in 1718, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville claimed for himself a huge swath of land that today comprises much of Uptown. A royal order soon forced him to sell the land, however. Twenty arpents of land that were sold to the Jesuits were sold again at auction in 1763, when the King of France expelled the religious order from Louisiana. Thomas Saulet was one of the new landowners.

  As Samuel Wilson Jr. explains in the Friends of the Cabildo book New Orleans Architecture: The Lower Garden District, Saulet subdivided his plantation but kept a large portion of it to build a home in what now is the 1300 block of Annunciation Street. Houses still standing in the 1200 block date back to the 1830s and once were owned by Saulet's descendants.

  In 1859, the Sisters of Charity purchased the property at 1321 Annunciation St. and opened a finishing school called St. Simeon's Select School for Girls and Young Ladies of the City. In 1912, it became a parochial school affiliated with St. Theresa of Avila Church, which was dedicated in 1849 on land that also once was part of the plantation and was donated by the Saulet family.

  The plantation house was sold again in 1922 and operated for a short time as St. Luke's Private Sanitarium. In 1923, Leona Saulet Soniat, a relative of the original owners, purchased the building and donated it to the Sisters of Mercy, who operated Mercy Hospital there before relocating to Mid-City. The building on Annunciation Street was demolished in 1959 to make way for a Schwegmann supermarket. Later operated as a Robert Fresh Market, the store never reopened after Hurricane Katrina. A developer has proposed building a new residential development there. As for the Saulet name, it lives on in a nearby apartment complex built in 2001.

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