Toward the end of Magazine Street, two townhouses sit side-by-side, seemingly out of place in the bustling Warehouse District. Built in 1836, the houses are situated near the Contemporary Arts Center and the National World War II Museum.
The one owned by Elaine Boos and George Hero IV features high ceilings, heart of pine floors, white Carrara marble mantels, tall windows and cypress doors. It’s a contemporary, comfortable home for the couple.
“Originally there were five identical townhouses,” explains Hero, as he offers a tour of the building his family has owned since 1946. “The three-story structure is Greek Revival in style with an attached rear service building. The Greek Revival style is evident by the Greek key doorframes, cantilevered balcony, six-over-nine windows, paneled front door with sidelights and wooden frieze.”
Hero smiles and continues his scholarly lecture. “The Greek Revival style was popular in New Orleans during the 1830 to 1865 period. It was a style imported to New Orleans by the influx of the ‘Americans’ from Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia.”
The building was purchased by his grandfather George Hero Jr. and his uncle Alvin Hero for $4,780. Under their ownership it became the Comfort Air Company. “The duo began installing air conditioning in commercial and residential buildings – a very new idea at the time,” he says.
“My early memory of the building was when I was in the fifth grade at Christian Brothers, and I would come to my dad’s office after school. I’d hang out until he got off work. I think I fell in love with the building way back then.”
Hero’s love of the townhouse followed him in his studies: he graduated from the Tulane School of Architecture. He researched the history of the building and neighborhood while he was a student, and although he had a dream of living in there someday, he wasn’t sure it would ever happen.
“When I married Elaine in 2003, we first lived in a typical suburban ranch-style house in the Aurora area of Algiers,” he says. “I still remember that it was with a degree of trepidation that I showed her the townhouse and mentioned that someday I’d like to restore it and make it our home. I was pleasantly surprised when she said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We purchased the building from my dad and I immediately began working on the renovation plans.
With the dedication and talent of Landis Construction, the work was completed on the home in less than a year.
“Landis has a residential division, Landis Residential Builders,” says Hero. “They began the work in April 2008 and we moved into the townhouse the same year in time for Christmas 2008.” Designer Isabelle Cooper worked with Boos on the interiors.
“We have never regretted moving here,” says Boos. “We both enjoy the large spaces, the light from the tall windows and being in the Warehouse District with nearby good restaurants, museums and art galleries.” For Hero it’s the culmination of a dream. “This is where I always wanted to live,” he says. “It’s a joy to live in such an architectural treasure.”