600 BLOCK OF CHARTRES STREET, NEW ORLEANS
600-02 (corner of 541 Toulouse) Built circa 1833, Creole style brick building which houses two, 3 ½ story, 3 bay front store houses, facing Chartres, which have arched openings on the ground floor with barred transoms. 602 Chartres has an infill portion on Toulouse Street in the common alley. The buildings were built at the same time for the same owners as the now demolished building at 604 Chartres. The balcony on the corner building was added about 1968.
604-08 Originally the twin building of the double building at 600-02 Chartres, this earlier building was demolished after 1896. The existing 2-story with balcony building was constructed about 1900.
601-07 (Reynes House) Built in 1796 by Joseph Duquet as a warehouse for a wealthy merchant, Joseph Reynes (aka Reines). A photograph by Mugnier gives us some knowledge of the building’s earlier appearance. The ground floor openings have suffered great change. In the gable end there were originally two small windows with a fan transom above them. French casement doors framed in fine flat-arched moldings were lined up under these attic windows. The Italianate arched windows have since replaced these. The original rounded corner has been cut off to permit an angled entrance and a cast-iron column added. Originally this rounded corner was flanked by a pair of pilasters, both on the ground floor and the second story level. A single pilaster marked the ends of the building, both on Toulouse and Chartres, has been changed. Purportedly, Reynes obtained the lot by exchanging a plantation tract on the Mississippi, with a slave named John Henry thrown in for “lagniappe”.
611 Built circa 1795, this plain structure, which seems once to have been two buildings, occupies the site of Mr. Reynes’ (see 601-07) warehouses. Apparently it has not always been this severe, box-like building. Interior arches indicated that there are substantial portions of a fine old structure here. Photographs from the Mugnier period show it with a wooden gallery, with turned balusters and colonettes supporting a canopy trimmed with bargeboard, extended to the edge of the banquette.
The site was originally assigned to Henry Bouquay, called Plaisance, in 1722. By 1728, it belonged to Sieur Bouileau. In 1731 Sieur Belcour had acquired it. No one seemed to hold it very long. Yet a map of 1734 shows this lot, already shortened in its depth, with a large building set somewhat back from the street, having front and rear galleries, with another fair sized building on the lot. After 1743 this land must have been acquired by Louis Wiltz and his wife Marie Tolly. By the time the Widow Wiltz sold to Nicolas Sarde, this lot had been absorbed into the corner property, with M. and Mme. Wiltz had acquired in exchange with the original owner, Arnaud Roche.
For a long time thereafter Lot No. 18488 had no separate existence. It belonged to Nicolas Sarde and his wife who, when a widow, married Pedro Le Bourgeois. It passed to Pedro Jourdan, then to Joseph Reynes, who apparently built stores and warehouses and used the site for commercial purposes. It was not until 1826 that this portion of ground resumed its identity, when Joseph Reynes, Jr., sold it to Mme. Fogliardi.
610-14 This circa 1830 transitional style 2-story, 4-bay masonry store/house with an added late 19th century cast iron balcony and detached kitchen building, is the twin building of 616-18 Chartres Street. John McDonogh purchased this building in 1844 from the State of Louisiana. This property was inherited by the City of Baltimore upon McDonogh’s death and sold to Jacob A. Schalck in 1859.
616-18 The twin of 610-14 Chartres.
WILKINSON ROW This block-long street was cut in 1816. At first it was named Jefferson, but there was already a Jefferson Street in another part of town, so it was renamed after General James Wilkinson. Most of the buildings along it were built in the late 1890’s and were associated with the Jax Brewery. Brewery stables/carriage houses (531-35) and warehouse (528) were located here. 524 was a tropical clothing manufacturing company, later the Haspel Shirt Factory, owned by a Jewish family (note the Star of David in the upper facade).
617-19 (Bosque House) Built in 1795. The first of the two great fires stated on Good Friday, 1788, on this site in the home of the Army Treasurer, Don Vincent Jose Nunez. (The home had been previously owned by Governor and Mrs. Galvez.) According to legend, on that windy day the windows were open and a lace cloth whipped suddenly against candles lighted here before a household shrine. The resulting conflagration reduced to ashes 850 buildings (4/5 of the populated section of the city).
In 1789, the lot with rebuilt house was purchased by the Baron Pontalba, who was acquiring property rather heavily in this area. In 1794, the house again went up in smoke. The Baron began rebuilding, but anxious to join his family in Europe, he sold to Bartholome Bosque, a prosperous merchant from Majorca. Pontalba wrote his wife that, “Bartholome Bosque is rebuilding the house I sold him . . . ” Bosque had his offices below for nearly 15 years. Bosque’s daughter Suzette, became the third wife of Governor Claiborne and later of the fascinating lawyer John Randolph Grymes (see 612 Royal Street). In 1816, the house was a private school for select young ladies and, following this, the “Louisiana Courier” (see 721 Gov. Nicholls) had its offices and presses here. Bernard de Marigny and his family owned the house until after the Civil War.
The front facade has been greatly changed, updated to suit later testes. Bosque house was probably planned by the architect-builder Barthelemy Lafon. Originally, it was partly 2-stories and partly one with the roof of the lower almost flat and covered with tiles to make a terrace. Later a second story was added to this roof-garden section. Once the ground floor openings harmonized with the upper, but in the 19th century they were changed. The original balcony railing still boasts a beautiful central medallion with the initials “BB”, and appears to be the work of Marcellino Hernandez.
621 This circa 1870 2-story brick structure is believed to be an extension of an earlier one-story building which occupied 617-19 Chartres.
620 American patriotism, or determination, is reflected in the dating of a 20-year lease between Governor Claiborne (for Louisiana) and Francois Seignoret (see 520 Royal). The date was written as “… in 1816 and (or) 40 of the American Independence”. John McDonogh purchased this property from the State of Louisiana in 1844. Along with many other properties in the city, this corner was part of McDonogh’s estate and “bequeathed to the City of Baltimore and Corporation of New Orleans.”
625 Built circa 1795, this 2-story brick porte cochere structure has a semi-attached service building and a canopy balcony with wood rails on the street facade. The plot of land, now only 24 ½ feet wide, once formed part of a 52 foot lot. Note the simple wooden balcony, a scarce sight after the popularity of cast iron in the 1850’s.
This was the lot granted on the 1722 map to Sieur Brusle, member of the first Superior Council and one of the important men who came with Bienville to establish and govern the new city of New Orleans. It was inherited by his daughter Louisa, who married Claude Joseph Favrot. Their daughter, Louise Favrot, married Alexandro de Cluet of New Orleans and St. Martinsville, and it was he, who sold the land to Don Vincent Joseph Nunez, Treasurer of the Royal Army in the Spanish period. Early maps show a dwelling on this lot set back from the street, with a hipped roof. This was probably much like Mme. John’s Legacy. Two small outbuildings existed in the yard.
Nunez sold this, along with the adjacent property, to Don Joseph Xavier de Pontalba in 1789, a year after the first great fire; and the big house would surely have been destroyed since the fire began in Nunez’ own home next door. But building seems to have boomed immediately, for by 1789 there were already “two small houses on one story, flat roofed, divided into four rooms, with chimneys and halls” which had been rebuilt on this lot.
In 1794 another great fire occurred in this block, around the corner on Royal Street in the rear of Mr. Mayronne’s property, and it is probable that the two small houses of one story were destroyed. Yet when the Baron Pontalba passed this property on to Joseph Pibernat y Mongol in 1796, it is described as having two adjoining houses with partition walls. In 1802 Mongol sold to Joseph Cheyron “two adjoining houses with partition walls,” but in 1803, when Cheyron sold a half-lot to Santiago Devigne, the property is described as “a two story brick house on a lot on Chartres Street having 23′ front by 120′ depth FM … with a party wall of 12′ in height dividing it from building of Jose Cheyron and on the other side as a corresponding wall.” No building contract exists and no reference was made to when it was built.
This property was tied up in an estate in France during the 1840’s. From 1840’s until 1866, this was the famous “Restaurant des Quatre Saisons.” Later the Four Seasons moved a block closer to Canal Street.
During the 1920’s this was the home of a retired Storyville madame known as Aunt Rose Arnold. She was over six feet tall and a friend of bohemians in the area. Sherwood Anderson describes her in “A Meeting South,” and Faulkner may have patterned his character Miss Rebecca of “Sanctuary” and “The Reivers” after Aunt Rose.
627-29 Built circa 1840-50. Cast iron flat columns on the ground floor separate simple, old-fashioned shop windows flush with the sidewalk. Centered between this shop windows are French doors that lead into the shop beyond. On the second story French doors with louvered shutters open on a cast iron gallery that extends over the banquette and rests on fluted cast iron columns. This is typical architecture of the mid-nineteenth century.
The de la Tour map lists “M. Brusle, inhabitant” at lot 65. This was Sieur Antoine Brusle, concessionaire, councilor, member of the first Superior Council, and man of importance who came with Bienville at the beginning of the settlement here. Brusle’s daughter, Louise Elizabeth Brusle, married Claude Joseph Favrot. Their son was Don Pedro Favrot, known as the Creole Pepys; and their daughter, Louise Favrot, married Alexandre de Cluet, an important planter of St. Martinsville and New Orleans. It was the de Cluet son, Louis, who, in 1814, became involved in an abortive plot to return Louisiana to Spain. He was a Brigadier General when this was a Spanish colony and later became Governor of the province of Hagua, Cuba.
Early maps show a building on this site, set back from the street, with a hipped roof, possibly of French colonial style. Two small outbuildings appear in the depth of this lot. In 1789, Nunez bought the property from de Cluet and sold it to de Pontalba the same day. The records states that “there are already built two small brick houses of one story, flat-roofed, divided into four rooms, with chimneys and sales.” The next sale occurred in 1796, two years after the second fire, and again “two adjoining houses” exist here.
In 1838 the site held “a main brick building composed of a store on the first floor, and of two rooms on the second story, with a corridor and a gallery. A kitchen having two rooms on the lower story and two rooms on the second story and a small brick building in the yard.”
The property was purchased in 1936 by Le Petit Theatre, but returned again to private ownership a few years later.
629-31 Although this two-story brick building may be the circa 1795 building that was constructed for Joseph X. de Pontalba, it has been extensively altered, especially around the mid-19th century.
633-43 (Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre) The corner building is a 1963 reconstruction of the 1789-1796 building that stood on this site. The original wrought-iron balcony rail made by the master blacksmith Marcellino Hernandez was reused. The original specifications and the earliest photographs were used to create a larger copy of the building by architect Gilberto Guillemard and builder Hilario Boutte for owners Baron Pontalba and his wife’s aunt Mme. Celeste Macarty Miro, widow of Governor Miro. (Celeste was also Delphine Macarty’s aunt, see 1140 Royal.)
The Pontalba-Miros used it as income producing property during their stay in France. Nothing much is known of the tenants at that time, but Pontalba mentioned in his letters that “nobody wants to rent the store under the bishop’s apartment and it is going to be a total loss.” This may have been the home of the first bishop of Louisiana, Louis Penalver y Cardenas, or his vicar, Father Patrick Walsh.
By 1814, the building was reportedly a first-class restaurant and lodging house with the unique name “Le Veau qui Tete” (sucking calf). In 1880, a Mugnier photograph shows it as the Cafe de la Louisiane.
In 1922, the Little Theater bought the large site from Nicholas Garbini and razed the three small buildings (next to the corner building). In their place was erected a theater building with a connecting loggia. At that time the corner building was restored, but forty years later the old building had become unsafe for public use and the present reconstruction occurred. Le Petit Theatre, founded in 1916, is the oldest non-professional theater in the country.