FAMILY TREASURESElaborate original moldings top the living and dining room walls and frame the arch that defines the spaces, while the sisal rug gives a modern touch to the elegantly furnished rooms.
The Garden District has been considered one of the most desirable residential neighborhoods in New Orleans for centuries. Today, the quiet setting still offers the charm of the past, while providing comfortable homes for the present. The mansions on tree-lined streets give no hint to what there is to see beyond the tall front doors, unless the homeowners invite you inside. The excitement of walking through the front door of Lise and Richard Montgomery’s home provides a glimpse of the best of the past, combined with a freshness of the present, defining what is meant by the words “best of the best.”

FAMILY TREASURESBuilt in 1870, the stately GardenDistrict mansion of Lise and Richard Montgomery maintains its historicsignificance.

Built in 1870, the Montgomery’s Greek revival-style home sits behind an iron fence that hugs the brick sidewalk. “The interiors of our home are special because many of our furnishings belonged to our parents and grandparents,” says Lise – an attractive, stately blonde who dresses herself as fashionably as she decorates her home. She provided a tour of the grand double parlors that are now used as the living and dining rooms and pointed out the things she acquired from her mother Hedy Baldwin, her husband’s mother Ella Montgomery, her grandmother Julia “Dula” Freret, and a wedding present from her godmother Ibsie Gremillion. Like many grand mansions of the past, the rear of the house has been remodeled to open up the spaces to the back garden. “We’ve lived here since 1976, so our house has gone through several changes,” she says. “However, the front two rooms remain as they have always been, with the original elaborate molding still intact. Even the archways are adorned with fine moldings.”

FAMILY TREASURESA pillow appliquéd with a crown adds a touch of whimsy to thechair in front of the window

“My mother had a great sense of style,” Lise said. “I grew up in a lovely home with fine antiques and fashionable accessories. I am so delighted to have her antique French sideboard in the dining room. Even the lamps on the sideboard came from her home. I’ve been tempted to change the old shades, but I love keeping them exactly as they’ve always been.” Other treasures from her mother include the mirror over the mantle and the Pembroke table in the corner by the front window. A handsome secretary from her husband’s mother is now a cherished part of their furnishings, and her godmother gave them the bar as a wedding present. “It has a place of honor between the front windows,” Lise says. She is also proud to display the Freret coat of arms – that once belonged to her grandmother Dula – in the living room. There’s a wonderful sense of whimsy in the elegant front rooms. A narrow, purple pillow is embossed with a crown, while a two-tone velvet ball doubles as a pillow on the loveseat. As a salute to memories of the past, the couple’s collection of silver baby cups and carnival mementoes graces the table behind the loveseat.

FAMILY TREASURESThe sitting room features comfortable furnishings and a wall of family photographs
While Lise is responsible for the overall look of the interior design, she is quick to give credit to interior designer Mary Ferry Bigelow for the idea of using one long sisal rug to cover just the right amount of the living and dining room floors, so the original oak floors are still highlighted. “The continuity of using one rug, rather than two to define the space, works perfectly,” Lise explains. Interior designer Patricia Brinson had the curtains covering the tall windows fashioned in keeping with Lise’s idea. “I wanted a two-toned curtain with the change of color coming at the bottom of the windowsill,” she says. When the couple decided to redo the back of the house, they called in Michael Carbine. “Michael is a genius when it comes to knowing how to open up spaces in historic houses,” she emphasizes.

FAMILY TREASURESThe rear addition was designed by Michael Carbine to provide a view of the rear garden and maximize light in the space.

“Most of all, we enjoy having spent 30 years in this house,” Lise says. It was an active house when their three sons were growing up. Now they have families of their own including three grandchildren – Ellie, Walker and Harper – playing in the house. “While this home may be an historic treasure, to us it has always been simply a livable home where we raised our three sons.”

FAMILY TREASURESLise shares lemonade with grandchildren, Walker and Ellie, while baby Harper sleeps on her arm.