Dear Julia and Poydras,
I visit your city frequently and am writing about the equestrian statues in New Orleans and what, if any, meaning the position of the horses’ feet have. For example, the statue of Andrew Jackson on his horse in Jackson Square has its horses two feet elevated. I have been told this means the rider went on to great things. Please tell me what you know about this. Poydras, this needs your expertise – get busy!

Dorothy Paulson
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Dorothy, Poydras never hangs out at any place where there are pigeons. He says that pigeons are lazy and that they all look alike.
Equestrian statues with both forefeet raised are generally interpreted as honoring people who died in battle, not who went on to great things, unless the great thing you’re talking about is the Great Beyond. Secondly, the whole equestrian statuary code, although widely disseminated and widely believed, is probably an urban myth. The Andrew Jackson monument in Jackson Square is among the approximately 30 percent of equestrian statues throughout the country for which hoof position is inconsistent with the rider’s manner of death. It seems the position of the horse’s feet may have more to do with the sculptor’s talent and sense of aesthetics than it does with any official code.  

Dear Julia,
Why is the statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square facing the Pontalba Building instead of facing the entrance to the square on Decatur Street? According to the books I’ve read on New Orleans, the Baroness Pontalba offered to pay for much of the cost of a statue honoring Jackson as long as it faced her apartment … but why?

Betty Lou Zimmerman
Metairie

I’m not sure which books you’re reading but I haven’t seen evidence that supports this charming story. Since the Baroness Pontalba owned both apartment buildings on what is now Jackson Square, did she also specify that half of this prime real estate was to overlook a horse’s behind? Madame Pontalba did contribute $1,500 towards the monument’s cost but the story about her having dictated the statue’s position may be strictly anecdotal. In the booklet Baroness Pontalba’s Buildings and the Remarkable Woman Who Built Them, Leonard Huber and architectural historian Samuel Wilson Jr. seem to refer to the popular story as they state “Whether or not the Baroness Pontalba permitted her enthusiastic admiration for Andrew Jackson to override her instinctive wariness in money matters cannot be documented but the likelihood is that at least self-interest prompted her to contribute to the beautification of the square on which her buildings faced.”

Dear Julia and Poydras,
My fiancé and I have recently bought a home in the Uptown area. I have found myself wondering about the history of our home, did anything exciting ever occur there and who originally built the home? With the great surplus of gorgeous historical homes in New Orleans, I’m sure many residents around the city may have wondered the history of their homes as well. Are there any databases or archives that give any facts on the homes of New Orleans?
Also, where does Uptown end and Carrollton begin? It seems this is up for debate depending on whom you are speaking to. Thanks Julia and Poydras.

Rochelle Busby
New Orleans

We do have an astounding inventory of historic homes but that supply is both finite and critically endangered. Like our wetlands, our local architecture is disappearing at a staggering rate. It isn’t simply the building material that’s being lost, it’s the craftsmanship the local architects, builders and woodworkers put into these homes and their architectural details. As the city confronts post-Katrina recovery and redevelopment, we’re poised to lose hundreds – maybe even thousands – of historic homes and the sad fact is that few people are likely to notice because so many of those houses are located in older or less-affluent neighborhoods, some of which are targeted for massive redevelopment.   
I am unaware of any place that can provide ready-made histories of most old local houses. The only exceptions that come to mind would be for French Quarter residences, which are included in the 1966 Vieux Carré Survey, or for those houses whose neighborhoods are covered in the Friends of the Cabildo’s ongoing New Orleans Architecture series of books.  In order to uncover detailed information about the vast majority of New Orleans’ older homes, most likely you’ll  need to consult several different original resources in archives and municipal offices throughout the city. One way to become familiar with the available resources is to consult How to Research the History of Your House (or Other Building) in New Orleans, a booklet former city archivist Wayne Everard compiled for the New Orleans Public Library.  The entire text of the 1986 publication is available online through the following link at the New Orleans Public Library’s Web site www.nutrias.org/~nopl/guides/house/title.htm
As for your other question, Lowerline Street is the historic boundary where Carrollton begins.  

Dear Julia & Poydras,
My granddaughter and I are having a disagreement. She thinks I’m teasing her. I told her there was a nightclub I went to in the 1950s. The name of it was the Gay Paree. I don’t recall if it was in Marrero or Westwego. We took the Jackson Ferry to get there. Our friend Delores Gaudet sang there sometimes. A movie is riding on the answer. Zack, our parrot which we’ve had for 22 years, said to tell Poydras “Hello” and that we hope he had a happy Mardi Gras.

Millie Wires
Westwego

Does your granddaughter disbelieve your memory or that you went to bars? Whatever the case, she owes her grandmother a movie. A suburban city directory for 1959, includes a listing for the Gay Paree, a bar located at 5324 4th St., in Marrero. A similar directory from 1957, shows 5324 4th St., as being occupied by the Cocoanut Lounge, a watering hole run by Joseph S. Bruno. The Gay Paree, therefore, probably began operation some time around 1958. Before running the Gay Paree, its proprietor, Claudine Price, had been employed as a barmaid at the Fisherman’s Inn.
The 1961, suburban city directory indicates that part of Marrero was renumbered. The Gay Paree’s new address was 6117 4th St. By the time the next year’s suburban city directory was published, 6117 4th St., had been vacated.  
Poydras says hello to Zack. Please understand that Poydras sometimes gets confused but he says he thinks he remembers Zack from when the two served together in the French Foreign Legion in Algeria; either that or he once saw Zack in Algiers. He’s not sure of which.

Dear Julia,
When visiting the Riverwalk recently with my granddaughter, we noticed the statue of Winston Churchill in the circle before the Hilton Riverfront Hotel that’s in front of the entrance before the tracks going to the Riverwalk. Would you please tell us why there is a statue commemorating Winston Churchill in the city of New Orleans?

Karla W. Comardelle
Paradis, La.

 
In November 1977, International Rivercenter, the company that built the Hilton on Poydras Street, donated to the city both British Place and the statue of Winston Churchill. The company’s generosity and choice of statuary makes sense once you know that the company’s co-managing partner, James S. Coleman Jr., served as honorary British Consul for Louisiana. The Churchill statue is the work of the Welsh sculptor Ivor Roberts-Jones.
Churchill’s daughter, Lady Soames, attended the dedication ceremony. Lady Soames told the audience of her late father’s pride that he had been granted honorary U.S. citizenship and that his mother was an American. Lady Soames went on to say she was honored her father was chosen to personify the 200 year bond between the U.S. and Great Britain as well as both nations’ “mutual love of freedom.”
The statesman himself also got in a few words, thanks to an old tape recording. As the crowd stood gathered at the foot of Poydras street, Winston Churchill was heard to proclaim that the U.S.’ support of Great Britain was “… like the Mississippi. It just keeps rolling along.”