The Pursuit to Answer Eternal Questions
Plan of the city and suburbs of New Orleans: from an actual survey made in 1815. Delineator I. Tanesse (1817).
Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress
When I was growing up, my family lived in the 3300 block of St. Claude Avenue. The cross streets on the ends of that block were Piety and Desire. Sometimes I would tell people that I lived between Piety and Desire. It was only later on in life that the irony of that statement dawned on me. Might the juxtaposition of those two street names have been done deliberately for the sake of the irony or is that supposition just a figment of my imagination? By the way, my grandparents who lived next door to us had a parrot. Perhaps Poydras could fly down that way and do a little research. One of his old friends might be able to help with my question.
Adam, Poydras doesn’t have any friends except for someone he keeps calling on the phone and asking questions to. Her name is Siri.
The naming and adjacent placement of Piety and Desire streets on the local street grid has nothing to do with irony, vice or virtue. The Tanesse map of 1817 clearly shows “Rue Piete” as the downriver edge of the Faubourg Clouet, a small suburb in which most of the streets were named for people. Desire Street, the upriver edge of Faubourg Montreuil, isn’t shown on the Tanesse map, but “Habitation Montreuil” is clearly shown where the present-day Desire Street is located. Years of misunderstanding and misspelling have obscured the fact that property owner Robert Gautier Montreuil named the street in honor of his daughter, Désirée.
You may already know that St. Claude was once known as Goodchildren. Therein lies a tale of an allegedly larcenous lad who was accused of stealing a gold watch from Mrs. Celestine Grouse’s home located on Goodchildren between Piety and Desire, in the block where your family later resided. The Daily Picayune reporter covering Recorder Long’s court one day in late August 1858 couldn’t resist poking fun at the irony of Henry Simon’s actions. “He, however, did not appear to be one of the good children of that celebrated thoroughfare, and his desire proved to be much stronger than his piety. In fact, such a case was made out against him, as induced the Recorder to send him to the House of Refuge.”
I inherited a bed that once belonged to my paternal grandmother who lived in Ascension Parish. The bed looks to be more than 100 years old. Stamped on the back of the headboard is “Beauregard Furniture. Rampart and St. Ann Street. New Orleans, Louisiana.”
The only information I have been to locate about the Beauregard Furniture Company is that it was organized by Caesar Maestri in 1894, and of course that it was located on Rampart and St. Ann streets in Beauregard Square.
I am hoping you and Poydras will be able to get more information about the Beauregard Furniture Company.
Kathleen “Kathy” Lambert
You can be absolutely confident that your paternal grandmother’s bed was made between 90 and 115 years ago. Unfortunately, there are some discrepancies to the information about the Beauregard Furniture Company. The company’s name checks out, as does its proximity to N. Rampart and St. Ann streets. Unfortunately, the claim that Caesar Maestri established the company in 1894, locating the store in Beauregard Square, is inaccurate. In late 1898, Natale Maestri opened his newly constructed Beauregard Furniture Company building at 801 N. Rampart St., across the street from Beauregard Square (formerly Congo Square and now Armstrong Park). The firm went out of business in 1923.
Born in Parma, Italy, company founder and longtime proprietor Natale Maestri left his homeland along with his parents, arriving in the United States at age 12. For about a quarter-century, this grand uncle of New Orleans mayor to-be Robert S. Maestri was engaged in the furniture business and, for most of that time, headed the Beauregard Furniture Company.
Later in life Maestri changed his line of work, founding the Republic Ice Company of New Orleans and the Liberty Ice Company, a Baton Rouge-based firm. He also created and led the New Orleans-based Beauregard Laundry as well as the People’s Laundry in Baton Rouge. When away from work, philanthropist Natale Maestri supported children’s welfare efforts, and during a trip to Parma, made possible the renovation of the Roman Catholic Church where his family had worshiped for generations. Natale Maestri died in July 1937 at his Esplanade Avenue residence. The 84-year-old philanthropist and former furniture tycoon was laid to rest in Metairie Cemetery.
I am new to the area from New York and have recently learned that there are many things besides crawfish boil that people can put in their pot. I am still getting used to the spiciness and I have a history of allergic reactions to some things; what else can you recommend to put in the pot to add subtle flavor when you boil crawfish?
Thank You. I love your magazine!
Because you specifically wrote that you want to experiment with seasoning shellfish and have a history of allergic reaction, it’s conceivable that someone else’s fabulous secret ingredient could sicken you. As an example, I’ve heard some people add pineapple to their crawfish boil, but pineapple is a known allergen for some people.
Resources such as the nonprofit Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) website FoodAllergy.org have extensive information for the millions of people who have potentially life-threatening food-related allergies. The organization’s southeast regional office can also be contacted at the following postal address: FARE, 233 Peachtree St., Suite 2307, Atlanta, GA 30303.
As a matter of curiosity, from many years past I have noticed that a large portion of the French Quarter and over into the CBD as well, there are numerous square (12-by-14-foot square) granite appearing identical vertical columns that are placed and mostly spaced evenly apart at the front of buildings. Door and window facades are mounted between them for entry mostly to different businesses and cafes. I don’t know if the columns extend further back into the interior of the buildings as support for upper level floors, but suspect they may very well do that.
There must be a history to this construction uniformity for the French Quarter that maybe Poydras knows from reading cast-off papers for construction plans in the bottom of his bird house, or I trust Julia can shine some light on the developed use of these special columns.
Russell D. Thompson
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Russell, for Poydras to read the cast-off papers on the floor of his house, he would have to remove the clutter first – and that might require a bulldozer. That is why he mostly talks about current events. The information hasn’t reached the floor yet.
The granite piers and pilasters you describe are integral and distinguishing elements of Greek Revival architecture; they’re neither indigenous nor unique to New Orleans. Although they support the front walls, they weren’t used for internal support.
Their prevalence in our city is a reflection of the fact that the French Quarter and CBD contain many commercial structures dating from the first half of the 19th century, when Greek Revival was nationally embraced as the predominant architectural style for commercial and industrial buildings. Talbot Hamlin’s Greek Revival Architecture in America remains and important and easily accessible book on the subject.
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