A Worldly Experience from this Pontalba Apartment
The guest bedroom doubles as an art studio for Meredith, with her easel neatly tucked in the corner of the room.
Cheryl Gerber photos
David Franco sits on his third floor balcony in the historic Upper Pontalba Apartments and waxes poetically about his good fortune to live in such a beautiful setting overlooking Jackson Square. “The French Quarter is a very fascinating place, and I’ve always wanted to live here,” he says. “Every day I’m surrounded by rich history, culture, architecture, music, food and everything that makes New Orleans such a special and unique city. I feel truly privileged to live in this historic building that has so many charming features I enjoy, from the red iron balcony to the spiral staircase,” he continues. “I love waking up in the morning to the ringing of the church bells of St. Louis Cathedral and the evening air that’s often filled with the soulful melodies of street musicians.”
Franco was born Singapore to a mother from Houma who had a medical degree from Louisiana State University, and a father from Maracaibo, Venezuela, who was a petroleum engineer. His parents met when his father immigrated to Louisiana to work in the oil industry. It isn’t surprising that David has a unique appreciation of his historic apartment, since he grew up in such diverse parts of the world, including Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emerges (UAE) and London, England. “Being exposed to vastly different cultures at a young age certainly influenced and shaped my love for history and architecture,” he says.
He graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and obtained a law degree from Loyola University. Later he obtained a master’s degree in maritime law from the University of Cape Town. While in South Africa, he also traveled to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. He also lived in Montreal, Canada, for one year doing legal research and brief writing. Today, David practices law in New Orleans for The Dugan Law Firm, where his work involves pharmaceutical and environmental class action litigation.
“I moved into my apartment in early 2012, after being on a waiting list for over four years,” he says. “It was my good fortune to be offered a place in the middle of the block where I’m able to enjoy everything surrounding most of Jackson Square. For lagniappe, I even have a view of the Mississippi River, and I love to hear the fog horn from traffic on the water.”
David selected Ty Larkins, a talented Baton Rouge interior designer, to help him with the apartment. “After meeting with Ty, I immediately knew I could collaborate with him and build a level of trust to help create the home I wanted,” David says. “He is not only creatively talented in his work and approach to design, but I also appreciated the open dialogue we had as he tested my own creative limits, which ultimately forced me to step outside my comfort zone in terms of how I envisioned my apartment to look in the end.”
Ty agrees that the collaboration was a success. “The space is architecturally stunning with 12-foot ceilings and historic character throughout,” he says. “We worked together to create different moods for the different spaces, and the special challenge was the living room, a totally inside room with a lack of natural light.” Ty’s genius approach was to paint the walls a dark shade of a gray-brown, called Iron Mountain by Benjamin Moore, to create a moody, masculine feel.
Identical front bedrooms and bathrooms received an envelope of a light cream color, while the study on the opposite side of the living room is a natural light-filled space with two large windows overlooking the open core of the building. “I keep my mementoes from my travels and treasures from my father, who passed away in 2012, in the study,” David says.
In 2015, Meredith Dirner, David’s fiancée, moved from Laguna Beach, California. An event planner with Accent Event Productions, Meredith is completely charmed by the unique apartment. “I love the activity and charm of the French Quarter and, like David, I enjoy spending time on our balcony while taking in the sights and sounds of Jackson Square,” she says. “It is always pleasant to open the heavy shutters on the tall walk-through windows facing the balcony and greet a new day. On weekends David and I will relax and take our time having our morning coffee or enjoying a glass of wine in the evenings. We both love relaxing at times and then immersing ourselves in the festivities at others. This apartment comes together to provide a remarkable and unparalleled combination of solitude, celebration and rich history that you cannot find anywhere else.”
David finds great pleasure in sharing his special apartment with Meredith. “It has added a wonderful dimension to this perfect setting to have Meredith here with me,” he says. “We share the love of New Orleans and this apartment with great joy.”
The statue of Andrew Jackson in the center of Jackson Square is viewed from the balcony.
David Franco and Meredith Dirner
Baton Rouge interior designer Ty Larkins created a dramatic design for the windowless interior living room.
The master bedroom opens onto the balcony by way of the large walk-through windows.
Simple furnishings in the guest bedroom include a white secretary and metal bed.
Architectural drawings were selected to be displayed over the table and pair of benches on one side of the fireplace.
Two large windows fill the study with light from the courtyard; simple furnishings of comfortable chairs and side tables with lamps add a masculine feel; a handsome metal light fixture hangs from the ceiling, while a pair of shelves provides space for David to display treasures from his travels and family heirlooms.