Things to See in Faubourg Marigny | A Self Guided Tour
Bounded by Elysian Fields and Esplanade Avenue, the Faubourg Marigny is one of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhoods. Originally it was a prosperous plantation, and much the old French colonial buildings were constructed from cypress trees cut to clear the land. The plantation later specialized in brick laying.
The owner in 1805 was Bernard de Marigny. He decided to chop up his plantation into lots that he sold at a good price. While the Americans moved into present day Central Business District and Garden District, refugees from Europe and Haiti gravitated to the Faubourg Marigny. Here they built a unique culture that is still visible today in the neighborhood’s architecture and music scene.
Esplanade and Chartres: This is the old dividing line between the city and its suburbs. The Faubourg Marigny starts along Esplanade on the down river or down town side, across from the French Quarter. Faubourg is literally “false town,” and is the traditional French word for a suburb outside the walls of the city, and in 1805 New Orleans still had earthen walls to defend itself from invaders. By 1820 the walls had come down, but the street was used as the last line of defense for New Orleans in the American Civil War. Turn up Chartes street and then make a left on Kerlerec, proceeding until you arrive at Bourbon and Kerlerec.
1400 Block of Pauger: Here is where Bourbon Street ends and Pauger begins. This is one of the best preserved parts of the Marigny. At that time this was a Creole neighborhood. Indeed, French was still actively spoken in this area until World War II. Look to your left.
1436 Pauger: This is a very early brick between post Creole cottage. Structures like this were the most common when the neighborhood was founded. It has the old Creole cottage style in its placement of doors, but the roof is more flat than steep. It was owned and designed by Free Man of Color Jean Louis Dolliele. The Free People of Color formed a distinct group in colonial and antebellum New Orleans. Although having fewer rights than whites, they could own property, including slaves, and until the 1830s served in the local militia. Dolliele was one of the wealthiest of his time and was a veteran of the Battle of New Orleans. He designed many of the early buildings in the Marigny. Now look to the right.
1437 Pauger: This is an ornate Victorian Double Camelback. The camelback refers to the raised area to the rear of the house. There is no hallway; rooms are connected to each other, reducing privacy but allowing for a good air-flow. The term shotgun originates from the myth, that if all the interior doors are all open and aligned, you can shoot clear through the house, even though there’s no hallway. These buildings replaced the cottages after the American Civil War. This example, which dates to 1889, is particularly ornate. Just next door on the left you will see a more stately home.
1445 Pauger: Built around 1825 and bold in design for the era. It is a blend of Creole and American styles. It still retains the Creole influence in its lack of a porch and window arrangements. It’s center hall and outer wall chimneys shows the American influence. This was bold since at this time Creoles and Americans hated each other and in the 1830s, the city government was divided into three municipalities with separate councils. The Marigny had its own city council until the start of The American Civil War. From 1962-83, it was owned by Terry Flettrich. She played Mrs. Muffin on a local children’s show in the 1950s, which featured singing, cooking, and lessons on good manners and sharing. She was out local Mr. Rogers. Proceed until you reach the crossroads of Dauphine and Kerlerec.
Pauger and Dauphine Crossroads: Here you will see a few oddities. First is 1457 Pauger. This Creole Cottage used to be at the corner were stands the box-like 1468 Pauger. As the Germans came in they brought bakeries and breweries to the Marigny. The cottage was moved down with the use of slats and the current building erected in its place. The bakery is now a private home. The old bakery entrance was on the corner, hence why one side of the façade only has one window while the other has two windows. Take a left on Dauphine.
1825 Dauphine: The oldest still standing building the Marigny, dating back to 1806. Go further down.
1801 Dauphine: This house was from 1817-1833 the residence of Charles Laveaux. He was a wealthy man and friends with Bernard de Marigny. He owned most of the property near here, selling it in 1833. The building is set one step off the banquette as were most of the 1800-30 Creole structures. Door opening frames are slightly recessed. Each opening originally had French doors and transoms. Sometime in late 1800s the building was sold again and they added the beautiful second floor and gallery of cast iron.
Charles was the father of the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Much of her life is shrouded in mystery. She was a hairdresser who used a spy network which she used to make herself appear all-knowing, or at least to extract the occasional bribe. She was popular due to her work with the poor and wrongfully accused. Like many of her day she took a wealthy white Creole, Christophe de Glapion, as her lover. She also ran a liquor importation business. The brick storage room can be seen across the street. Proceed back towards Dauphine and Pauger Crossroads.
1820 Dauphine: This quant building looks like a Shotgun but is actually a very narrow Creole Cottage. Many Free Women of Color were chosen as lovers by the city’s elite, often signing contracts furnished by the young woman’s parents. These relationships could cause bitterness, as many whites found more pleasure here than back home. They could never marry their mistresses, but some moved in with them. Marie Laveau’s daughter, Philomene Glapion lived here with her white lover Alexandre Legendre. Present day Rampart Street was where many Creoles tucked away their mistresses in a quiet place. Bernard de Marigny, no stranger to the practice, renamed Rampart Rue de l’Amour or Love Street. The street behind it was then dubbed Good Children, since that is where many of the bastards would go to play near the marshes that once lined the city. Return to the crossroads and take a left on Pauger.
1508 Pauger: This was the home of Elizabeth Mary Landreaux, stage name Lizzie Miles. A descentdant of the Free People of Color, she was an early singer of Jazz, Blues, and Gospel. The Marigny’s black community played a pivotal role in the creation of Jazz. Most famous among its musicians were Jelly Joll Morton (his 1443 Frenchmen Street home is still standing) and Sidney Bechet. Go down to Burgundy then hang a right, stopping at Touro.
This street, pronounced by many locals as BurGUNDEE, was originally called Craps. That has to do with Marigny. He was a gambler and brought the English game Hazards back to America. It became known as craps because those playing it were often crouching like frogs, known in France as Crapaud. As New Orleans grew so did its gambling addiction. Draw and stud poker were invented along the river and Marigny himself popularized the game of craps. In this unregulated age most games were rigged. From the 1840s-1880s some 500 different gambling houses operated in the city. In 1869 gambling was made legal, although the games still attracted corruption and violence. Look at the bank building just nearby.
2001 Burgundy: This is the former Canal Commercial Trust & Savings Bank. Founded in the 1920s, the style is Georgian, which was popular with public and business buildings in that era. The bank closed in the 1930s and has been the site of several businesses, the current one being the Ruby Slipper Café. The owners claim according to “local legend” Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow robbed the bank in 1934. Upon further investigation it appears they did not. But they did steal a car in the city, and the FBI found out the make and model, and passed the information along to the Texas and Louisiana lawmen who killed the duo in Gibsland, Louisiana. Proceed down towards Frenchmen Street.
2020 Burgundy: This grand Creole Cottage is today known as Sun Oak. It is a Greek Revival galleried Creole cottage with a rusticated façade, dogtrot and authentic period color scheme of French red, Amarillo yellow, and Egyptian blue. The 1960s saw blight and crime spike. Architect Gene Cizek, started the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association in 1972. Sun Oak is his residence and the heart this revitalization of the Marigny, which is protected by local and federal laws. Before the 1990s this was one of the few homes in the area to don the traditional Creole colors you see here. Since Katrina this trend has accelerated, particularly in the Marigny and Bywater. Proceed down to Frenchmen then go right.
732 Frenchman: Built in 1870, it is a mix of classical and Creole styles. It was the home of Edouard Edmond Bermudez. He was a Civil War veteran, lawyer, and judge in New Orleans. In 1880 he became the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, and remained so until he died in this home. He was most known as a law teacher. In this building he mentored Edward Douglas White, who became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. White’s career crossed with Marigny native Thomy Lafon, a wealthy Afro-Creole. Bank-rolled by Lafon, Homer Plessy boarded a whites only railcar at Press and Royal Streets, the edge of the Marigny. This led to the case Plessy v. Ferguson. Among the men to decide the case was Edward Douglas White. Although White fought corruption and business monopolies, he supported the ruling in favor of segregation. From here proceed further down Frenchmen Street.
700-702 Frenchman: This is the last residence of Jean-Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville. He was a gambler, playboy, developer, politician, and duelist. He was described as handsome, well-mannered, generous, and arrogant. He was descended from French nobility; his great-grandfather was the first commander of the French soldiers stationed in New Orleans. His forefathers are among the few who are buried in the St. Louis Cathedral. When his father died Marigny inherited $7,000,000, a vast fortune in those days. He was among the richest men in America. There is a persistent myth in New Orleans that Marigny died a pauper, having squandered his vast fortune on his gambling habits. The truth is Bernard did lose a lot of money through gambling, but he was also a victim of the Panic of 1837, a financial crisis that wrecked the nation. He had to sell his plantation home and rented out two rooms in this building. Take a left down Royal Street towards the tall modern building.
2110 Royal: In the 1970s the Henry Howard designed St. Peter’s Church and a grand Carnegie Mellon Library were demolished to build the Christopher Inn. This caused a spike in historic preservation efforts, but high crime rates limited these efforts. In the 1980s and early 1990s. As of today the Faubourg Marigny comprises the most intact Creole neighborhood in New Orleans. Now head down to Elysian Fields and go right.
632 Elysian Fields: This is the site of the fictional home of Stella and Stanley Kowalski in the play A Streetcar Named Desire. Tennessee Williams set the plays in the Marigny because in the 1940s it was a working class neighborhood. However, he did not look at the building where he set the play. He describes their home as looking like his own apartment at 660 Saint Peter Street. This building faces Elysian Fields. It was once the site of a canal and then a rail line, the first in the city and second in America. By the Great Depression the train and canal were gone, but many factories were nearby. Indoor plumbing though was a rarity well into the 20th century. Proceed down Elysian Fields until you reach the corner of Elysian Fields and Chartres.
Elysian Fields and Chartres: Mardi Gras starts here with Krewe du Vieux, a satirical, raunchy parade in 19th-century Carnival style. Mardi Gras was first celebrated in Louisiana in 1699 when Iberville and Bienville landed on Fat Tuesday and had a party in a swamp still known today as Mardi Gras Bayou. Before the 1850s it was celebrated with street parades and grand balls. Following practices in Mobile, floats were introduced before the Civil War. Go right on Chartres towards Frenchmen Street.
Frenchmen and Chartes: This is the current heart of the New Orleans arts and music scene. It emerged in the 1980s as Bourbon Street became more commercialized and the Jazz bands left the area. Frenchmen Street was unscathed during Katrina and was soon back in full swing, becoming a favorite stop for locals. When the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010, this became the heart of the post game celebrations. Here you can see bands of every kind at the Blue Nile, the Spotted Cat, Snug Harbor, d.b.a. and other places.
600 Frenchman: This building, the very center of the Frenchmen scene, was also the site of Marigny’s final act in life. This was the site of the D’hemecourt drug store when Bernard de Marigny slipped and fell on the icy street. He later died on February 3, 1868 from his injuries. He was 82. His assests, which once stood at $7,000,000 were now $20,000, meaning he died well-off but nowhere near the heights he once possessed.