June 30, 2015

[Photos] Une Belle Maison: The Lombard Plantation House

  • By: Katherine Flynn

Left: S. Frederick Starr in front of the fully-reconstructed kitchen house on his Lombard Plantation property. He was able to rebuild the kitchen house from scratch using 19th-century notarial drawings. Right: When Starr initially purchased the Lombard Plantation house, a cement-block biker bar called Sarge’s sat in the front yard.

We’re excited to feature the story of the Lombard Plantation house -- one of the last 19th-century plantation houses still in existence inside New Orleans’ city limits -- in the 2015 Summer issue of Preservation magazine. We couldn’t fit all of the wonderful photos of the house inside our six-page spread, so to make sure they didn’t go to waste, we’re featuring a selection of outtakes by photographer Sara Essex Bradley here.

Professor, historian, and musician S. Frederick Starr spent more than a decade painstakingly restoring the 1826 house. As the pictures below demonstrate, he didn’t cut any corners. Starr meticulously recreated period furniture and even devised plans for reconstructing an entire kitchen outbuilding from scrupulous 19th-century notarial drawings. The result is true to the house’s reputation as “une belle maison,” as it was described in an 1835 bill of sale and later in the title of Starr’s book on its restoration. It's truly a gem of the city’s revitalized Bywater neighborhood.

Check out the photos below for more on what makes this house so special, and read the full story in our summer issue.

Left: Using notarial drawings, Starr was able to replant the kitchen house's potager garden (French for an ornamental vegetable or kitchen garden). Right: every detail of the rebuilt kitchen house's interior was confirmed by historical or archaeological documentation.

Left: The house’s dining room originally featured a hand-stenciled grid of golden suns bracketed by half-moons, which Starr hired a local artist to re-create. Right: A test for original paint colors discovered a thin blue line around the top of the living room walls (which can be seen in the reflection in the mirror.)

Norman trussing systems are considered a distinctive feature of Creole cottages. The Lombard house's are built of cypress and etched with Roman numerals, which told the original builders where to peg them.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.


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