Pontalba Buildings - New Orleans, LA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member JimmyEv
N 29° 57.418 W 090° 03.802
15R E 783415 N 3317646
Quick Description: These identical apartment buildings facing each other across Jackson Square were designed by the Baroness de Pontalba to give the square the look of the Place des Vosges in Paris. Each unit has a shopfront on the ground floor, residential space above and servant quarters in the attic.
Location: Louisiana, United States
Date Posted: 4/7/2007 6:37:26 PM
Waymark Code: WM1CW3
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 108

Long Description:
Facing each other across Jackson Square are the Upper and Lower Pontalba Buildings. The identical residential blocks are 3½-stories high and constructed of Red Philadelphia brick. Each of the buildings is divided by party walls into 16 residences and shops. The ground level forms a continuous arcade for the ground-level shops; apartments were contained on the upper floors. Each unit has a passageway from the street to the principal stairway, a courtyard and a service area at the rear of the ground floor. Above the shops, the first floor had a salon at the front, a connecting dining room, and kitchen and service rooms in the rear. Bedrooms occupied the third floor, and the attic provided rooms for servants and storage space. Both the salon and bedrooms open onto a cast-iron gallery.

Don Andres Almonester y Roxas was the Spanish colonial landowner responsible for financing most of the construction of the Cabildo, the Presbytere and St. Louis Cathedral. He also owned the rest of the land surrounding the Place ‘dArmes (Jackson Square), which passed to his daughter, Micala Almonester-Pontalba, Baroness de Pontalba. She set about to give an architectural composition to the Place ‘dArmes comparable to the Place des Vosges in Paris. After obtaining a 20-year tax exemption from the city, she set about creating her vision.

James Gallier and Henry Howard drew the designs for the buildings with much input from the Baroness. The Upper Pontalba building, on St. Peter Street, was completed in 1850; the Lower Pontalba Building, on St. Ann Street, was completed the following year. The city redesigned Place d’Armes with an iron fence, matching the cast-iron railings on the balconies of the Pontalba Buildings, and built flagstone walks. Eventually, the city rescinded the tax exemption given to the Baroness based upon the fact that the buildings differed slightly from the Place de Vosges. Place de Vosges had a recessed arcaded walk; the Pontalba Buildings had a projecting gallery.

Most of the units were vacated by the end of the Civil War. By 1900, the apartments had turned into slums, being divided into more apartments. The state museum acquired the Lower Pontalba Building in 1927. The State Museum has restored one of the residences to its original condition, and furnished it in time period, the 1850 House. The Upper Pontalba Building is now owned by the city.


Street address:
500 St. Ann Street and 500 St. Peter Street
New Orleans, LA USA

County / Borough / Parish: Orleans Parish

Year listed: 1974

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1825-1874

Historic function: Residences and Shops

Current function: Residences, Shops, Museum

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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