A monthly pursuit of answers eternal questions
Dear Julia and Poydras,
I am counting on both of you to complete a search I started in May or June of 2005. At a planning meeting for the 200th anniversary of The Battle of New Orleans, I saw a copy of the 1816 map done by Major A. Latour. I expected to see the lady who owned it at the next meeting and didn’t arrange to get a copy or ask from where she got it. Well, everyone local knows what happened before the next meeting.
I have resumed my search and cannot find the 1816 map at any of the expected locations. The Historic New Orleans Collection, Tulane University, University of New Orleans, Louisiana Archives on Essen Lane and Bluebonnet Library all have the 1815 map, but I’ve gotten conflicting information on who should have the 1816 map. I am sure Poydras belongs to the Birds of 1812 organization as he must have an ancestor who was at Chalmette with the Lafitte brothers or their men. He would know that the 1815 map has the two plantations directly down the river from the Jumonville plantation with no names, as Jumonville also owned them. By 1816 he had sold both properties to members of the Ducros family. Latour records this on his later map as the Ducros name is now recorded between the Jumonville and Lachapelle plantations.
Any help would be appreciated as I’m in the process of preparing the paperwork for my application to have Pecan Grove Plantation, the Pierre A. Ducros family home for several generations, placed on the National Register.
Contrary to the stereotype of parrots perched on the shoulders of pirates, Gayle, Poydras and his ancestors always shunned pirates for one pragmatic reason: They drank too much rum. Poydras descends from a line of alcoholic parrots who always resented having to share their hooch with anyone else, particularly someone carrying a sabre. Poydras always says that if he’s going to clutch on anyone’s shoulder, it will be a Baptist.
I am not aware that Latour produced an 1816 map. The 1815 map was one of nine that accompanied Latour’s published memoirs. I strongly suspect confusion has arisen, because a map which was drawn in 1815 was published the following year as an insert in a well-known war narrative.
Arsène Lacarrière Latour’s 1815 “Map showing the landing of the British Army its several Encampments and Fortifications on the Mississippi and the Works they erected on their Retreat; also the different posts Encampments and Fortifications made by the several Corps of the American Army during the whole Campaign” clearly shows Ducros’ property at the bend in the river in the vicinity of modern-day Meraux. Furthermore, Latour indicated that multiple buildings stood on the Ducros land at that time. The Historic New Orleans Collection owns an original of this map and reproduced it in Charting Louisiana: Five Hundred Years of Maps, an historic atlas it published in conjunction with the Library of Congress. The map was also included in a translated reprint of Latour’s memoir. Historical Memoir of the War in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15, with an Atlas, was recently reprinted by the University Press of Florida and is widely available through local, national and online booksellers.
The Library of Congress’ Web site is another resource you may find useful. Part of the American Memory project, the Military Battles and Campaigns collection (lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/milhome.html) includes a hand-colored map which Maunsel White presented to Major John Reid on January 28, 1815. The Ducros property is clearly visible in the detail.
Dear Ms. Street,
I spent many happy hours at the Napoleon Theater that was located at 1012 Napoleon Ave. in the 1940s. What I cannot remember is whether it was on the corner of Camp Street and Napoleon Avenue or if there was a building next to it. I would love to see a picture of the theater I frequented as a child, and I know Poydras can help me reminisce.
Maureen, besides occasionally thinking that he’s the reincarnation of Napoleon, Podyras knows nothing about that theater.
The Napoleon was one of New Orleans’ earlier motion picture houses. In operation as early as 1905, it was located at the corner of Napoleon and Camp streets and remained at that location until demolition in the late 1960s or early ’70s.
Now remembered as a movie theater, the Napoleon began as a vaudeville house that showed short motion pictures as part of its general amusement program. A Hilgreen-Lane pipe organ was installed at the Napoleon in 1924 and, in the spring of ’38, a national motion picture trade magazine mentioned that the modernized and remodeled Napoleon Theatre had reopened.
I have so many fun and fantastic memories of growing up in New Orleans! As a child, I recall watching a parade from a French Quarter balcony and feeling that I could shake hands with riders on the floats if my arms were just a little longer. When did parades stop navigating these narrow streets?
By the early 1970s, Carnival crowds and parade floats were growing progressively larger, leading to safety concerns that were especially relevant to the historic French Quarter. The police, fire department and a consortium of Vieux Carré associations realized that the combination of large floats, narrow streets and wall-to-wall crowds was an invitation for disaster. The heavy police presence required for parades trying to navigate the narrow streets left other neighborhoods vulnerable. Had a fire erupted in the French Quarter while a parade was passing, fire department response could be delayed. In a neighborhood where fires can easily and rapidly spread through shared attics and communal walls, every second could make the difference between a controllable blaze and the loss of multiple buildings or even entire blocks. In August 1972, krewes voluntarily agreed to refrain from parading through the French Quarter; changes were implemented for the ’73 Carnival season.
Is it true the Absinthe House was at one time one of a handful on entresol buildings in New Orleans? If that’s correct, when was the entresol removed and why? If my question is baffling, pass it on to Poydras – he likes the hard ones.
In the early 19th century, some townhouses that had businesses on the ground level and residential space on upper floors had an “entresol” level, a mezzanine that was most typically used for commercial storage. While I’m not certain of the exact date it was altered, the Old Absinthe House lost the interior elements of this distinctive architectural feature when a property owner removed the entresol’s floor in order to provide a higher ceiling for a barroom. Although not common, other entresol buildings exist in the city. One example is the Pharmacy Museum on Chartres Street.
Although the Vieux Carré Commission regulates changes to the exterior of historic French Quarter structures, its jurisdiction doesn’t extend to interior modifications. Thus, many historic-looking Vieux Carré properties have been extensively modified inside.