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Mansion Musings

The history of the Luling Mansion

The Luling Mansion c. 1980, located at 1436 Leda St. The three-and-a-half story Italian Renaissance mansion features wrap-around galleries, arched windows and a conservatory at the very top. Two wing-like pavilions originally flanked the house, one of which contained a bowling alley. (They were demolished c. 1915.) When built, the home contained 22 rooms with frescoed walls and ceilings, Italian marble mantlepieces in various colors and designs, intricate moldings and a massive mahogany staircase.

Image provided BY The Charles L. Franck Studio Collection at The Historic New Orleans Collection. Acc no. 1979.325.366

In 1865, German-born cotton merchant Florenz Luling commissioned architect James Gallier Jr. to design a mansion for him on Esplanade Avenue. The 30 acres surrounding the home were intricately landscaped, containing luscious plants and trees both native and exotic, statues hidden among paths, winding drives and a pond with a small island in the middle.

In 1871, Luling sold the property to the Louisiana Jockey Club for $60,000 for use as a clubhouse. Tennis courts, bicycle paths, stables that could accommodate 100 horses and golf courses were added to the grounds; a billiards room and library were added to the main house.

The Jockey Club quickly became known for hosting lavish cocktail parties, balls, dinners and live music concerts to entertain thousands of guests at a time. Among the most famous guests was Alexis Romanoff, the Grand Duke of Russia. He attended an afternoon party in 1872 that turned into an all-night party. He had such a good time that he cancelled a concert appearance that night and also his visit to Mobile the following day.

The Jockey Club sold the property to private owners in 1905. In 1912, it was sold to an investor who subdivided the grounds around the mansion and sold them as individual lots where private homes were erected. The development of the gardens in front of the home meant the mansion was no longer located on Esplanade Avenue. In the 1920s, the home was owned by George Soule; it was during his ownership that the street the house fronted was renamed Leda Street.

The building changed hands a few more times, and in 1934 was sold to an investor who divided the mansion into 10 apartments. The Welcker family purchased it in 1950 and still owns it today.



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