The Carriage House Alone

What is left of the Campbell Mansion hints at its larger history.

Once considered to be one of the city’s finest residences, this 1951 photograph of the Campbell Mansion shows it in its less elegant state: home to commercial storefronts. Clearly seen is the first home of the Humming Bird Grill, before it moved across the street. This location, the corner of St. Charles Ave. and Julia St., has been a parking lot since the mansion was demolished in 1965.

courtesy of New Orleans Public Library

The Campbell Mansion, built in 1857 on the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Julia Street, was at the time considered one of the finest homes in the city. Dr. George W. Campbell, a physician and sugar planter, resided with his family in the two-story brick Italianate home, which was designed and built by L.E. Reynolds. A circular staircase of hand-carved rosewood, solid rosewood doors and marble mantels in each room created a resplendent and enviable residence, which was surrounded by a cast-iron cornstalk fence.

It was certainly luxurious enough to catch the eye of “Silver Spoon” General Butler, who seized the home for the Union headquarters after the fall of New Orleans during the Civil War. Campbell’s family was quickly and unceremoniously evicted, allowed to take only the clothes on their backs. Many of the valuable items in the home also disappeared when Butler was recalled by Union Authorities, after stories of his propensity for plundering became too numerous to ignore.

By 1937, the bottom of the house had been converted into six retail spaces, and the upper floors were being used as apartments. Ten years later, the Humming Bird Grill opened in one of the retail spaces, where it operated for 20 years until it moved across the street and became the Hummingbird Hotel & Grill, the city’s first 24-hour dine-in restaurant. (The infamous Hummingbird closed for good in 2002.)

In 1966, the Campbell mansion was knocked down to make room for a parking lot, despite efforts from the Louisiana Landmarks Society to save it. The only structure remaining of the once-elegant property is the carriage house, which still stands.
 

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