HOME: EYE-FULL TOWER – A Parisian collection and a New Orleans view
Enter the grand residence with a treetop view of Lafayette Square and beyond and you may think you are in Paris. A collection of Old Paris porcelains and grand European antiques make the eighth story condominium of Dr. Ralph Lupin seem like it could be in a fashionable part of the French city, rather than overlooking St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. Here you will find almost every surface used to display Lupin’s near priceless collection of Old Paris items. He is definitely a collector at heart and this is not his first collection. He and his late wife Freda amassed a grand collection of Imari porcelains in their French Quarter home that ended up as part of the permanent collection at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The collection became part of an exhibition that traveled throughout the country.
Designed to take full advantage of the view, the main rooms – living, dining and library – all overlook Lafayette Square through large expanses of glass. “I loved living in the French Quarter,” the obstetrician- gynecologist says. “However, the house was too big and I was anxious to try something different.” Among the features he likes about the condominium are state-of-the art security and onsite parking. “While it meant downsizing a great deal, it still provided ample space to display my collection of Old Paris.” His new home also provides a visual setting for him and Pam Halter, his companion, to entertain guests.
Everything in Lupin’s new residence reflects his taste for beautiful interiors. Nothing was left to chance. Bookshelves made of fine mahogany line the walls of the living room, with just enough space left above the bookcases to display some of his larger pieces. Lupin says he only collects Old Paris made by its master creator Jacob Petit – who created it for the King of France during a 30-year period (1830-1865). “He signed each of his pieces with a special JP symbol. It has become so collectible that it is now difficult to find, but I have antique dealers throughout the world on the look out for pieces to add to my collection,” Lupin says. Some Old Paris items were found in fine New Orleans homes of the period since French furnishings and accessories have always been in vogue in the city. He says some of his finest pieces were found by chance, such as the time he found a treasured clock set in Marche Dauphine, a well-known Paris flea market.
“Here I am surrounded with my Old Paris and each piece tells a story about where it was found, its pedigree and how it fits within the collection,” Lupin says. “It is definitely different from the French Quarter, but pleasant in its own special way.”