Susan “Susie” Hoskins grew up in a spacious home with high ceilings on St. Charles Avenue listening to the click-clack of streetcars. Time passed and Hoskins’ life took her from New Orleans to Houston to the Washington, D.C. area, where she lived in beautiful homes that all shared the same fault: no high ceilings. “Imagine how pleased I was when I decided to move back to New Orleans and found just the right house on St. Charles Avenue, in the Garden District, with wonderful high ceilings and original pine floors,” Hoskins says.
The Southern Colonial Revival home she found had the fine qualities of a historic New Orleans structure. It is a house that started life in 1850 as a handsome, two-story home with double front galleries. Around 1900, the galleries were removed and a new and grander house was added to the front of the original one.
“I like the sense of history about this house,” she explains as she displays a photograph of the 1850 Esplanade mansion where the beautiful iron fence and gates, now a part of her home, once stood. She says the sister of former mayor Robert Maestri brought the front doors, iron gates and fence from her family’s Esplanade place to her new home on St. Charles Avenue where Hoskins now lives.
Today the house is a showplace. However, Hoskins didn’t find the house in pristine condition. “I didn’t have trouble seeing past the problems because I knew it was a house with ‘good bones,’” she says. “The furniture from my Bethesda [Md.] home was already in route to New Orleans and I needed a place to live, so I purchased the house, moved in and immediately began major renovations that included taking what was an outdated kitchen down to the studs and fashioning a
completely new one.” She also added new closets, moldings where there were none and fine chandeliers. In later construction, a sunroom was added adjoining the kitchen to take advantage of the garden.
When finished, she had a treasure of an historic house, with beautiful rooms thrown in for good measure. “Fortunately, I already had some nice antiques and I carefully shopped on Royal and Magazine streets for additional pieces,” she says; yet, “some of my most treasured furnishings are from my mother and grandmother.”
Along the way, Hoskins began adding to her art collection, mainly concentrating on Louisiana artists, but none of her art means as much to her as the paintings done by her mother in the last few years of her life. “She painted the things she saw out of her window in her Casa Grande apartment on St. Charles Avenue,” Hoskins explains as she shows off the wall in the powder room where her mother’s paintings are displayed.
Today, Hoskins graciously entertains friends and special groups in her home. She has thrown some of the best parties in town as well as catered many parties and events in the Washington, D.C. area – she still has clients who wouldn’t think of doing something special without her help. Hoskins’ past and present clients represent some of the most important movers and shakers in D.C. “I still enjoy traveling back and forth to work,” she says. “It isn’t a problem to have a place to stay when I’m in the capitol since I have three sons and five grandsons in the area.” She also has a daughter and a year-old granddaughter in New Orleans. “I must add that I’m happy to be back home in New Orleans and it’s a special blessing that I found the perfect home on St. Charles Avenue to enjoy at this time in my life.”