The Beauregard-Keyes House is a bit like a cat – stubborn, beautiful and quite possibly nearing its ninth life. The history of this magnificent French Quarter house reads like a novel. With occupants running the gamut from the famous (Civil War General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard) to the downright infamous (more on that later), this house has a story for everyone.

The Beauregard-Keyes House, built in 1826 for Joseph LeCarpentier, is a raised center-hall cottage – a rarity in the French Quarter. Owned and operated since 1970 by the Keyes Foundation, the house now functions as a museum. (As an aside, pronounced correctly, “Keyes” rhymes with “skies”.) Architecture buffs will be intrigued by the house’s simple beauty, a seamless blend of Creole and American influences. Gardeners will want to spend time in the historic Parterre Garden, which is a popular spot for weddings. For literary scholars, there’s the vast collection of artifacts from the days when prolific author Frances Parkinson Keyes lived in the house – it was Keyes, in fact, who restored the house after it suffered many years of neglect. And Civil War enthusiasts will appreciate the legacy of General Beauregard. But if none of those appeal to you, maybe you’ll want to hear about the murder.

In the early 1900s, members of the Sicilian mafia, known as The Black Hand, took up residence in the neighborhood around the house. Simultaneously, wine merchant Pietro Giaconna and his family moved into the house. The story as I’ve heard it is that, in a turn of events that could have come straight from The Godfather, Pietro Giaconna refused to comply with the demands of the mafia. When the Barracca brothers, members of the Black Hand, came to the house and threatened the Giaconna family, Mr. Giaconna shot and killed them right there on the back gallery. French Quarter ghost hunters are particularly entranced by that story.

And now a more recent story: A couple of years ago, the brick walls on the ground floor of the house began to crumble — the mortar between the bricks was no longer doing its job. It became quickly apparent that house was structurally unsound and in need of urgent repairs. Thanks to the invaluable help of dedicated volunteers and donors, the house is now stable. The story doesn’t end there, however; as anyone who owns a house knows, all houses require constant upkeep. Just imagine the maintenance needs of a nearly 200-year-old house that has suffered periods of severe neglect. The Beauregard-Keyes house has vital needs; every single dollar raised will help. And anyone who lends time, energy, or financial support is making a difference.

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating house and its needs, please visit its website BKHouse.org or call 523-7257. The annual Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Spring Gala is scheduled for May 31. 

From Gardens to Galleries

From Gardens to Galleries
 


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