In the peaceful Garden District sits a stately mansion with a bronze plaque on the iron fence, and an arbor covered with a potato vine over the gate. If you peek into the side garden you will see a fanciful iron gazebo that introduces you to the uniqueness of the house and restoration work of Henry W. Krotzer, one of the great architects who lived and worked in New Orleans during the past century.
The house was built in 1859 and made unique by Krotzer’s magic touches. A graduate of Yale University and Tulane University’s School of Architecture, Krotzer worked with the well-known firm of Koch and Wilson for many years. He is remembered for his work on the restoration of the exterior first floor shop fronts and verandas of the upper and lower Pontalba buildings on Jackson Square, and his guidance on the restorations of Gallier House, San Francisco Plantation and Hermann-Grima House.
“I met Henry when I was working as a volunteer at the Hermann-Grima House in 1973,” says Louise Martin. “I was struck by the fact that he wanted to base the restoration of the house on its style and historical setting, rather than his desire to ‘make a statement,’ and I was also impressed by his practicality.”
Louise and her husband Edward “Ted” Martin agreed that Krotzer would be the ideal architect to help them with their Garden District home. The house was designed by the noted architect William A. Freret in the Greek Revival style.
“The library wing was added in 1879 in the Gothic style,” Louise says. “When we asked Henry to help us with the dining room, which had been altered in keeping with the architecture of the later part of the 19th century, he wanted to capture the Gothic style of the library.” The Martins believe Krotzer was innovative in his approach because he incorporated the Gothic design elements which further enhanced the overall style.
Krotzer designed Gothic windows to completely surround two sides of the dining room that overlook the lush side garden, with dramatic effect. Krotzer’s influence is seen throughout the house; he even designed the bed for the master suite.
“When we needed new columns for the front porch, Henry told us about a house on St. Charles Avenue at the corner of First Street which was purchased and remodeled by (Louise S.) McGehee School,” says Louise. “The house was built in the 1860s and the columns were exactly what we needed. The columns had not be used in the remodeling, and we were able to obtain them for our house.”
Louise’s admiration for Krotzer is further evidenced in her current project: writing a book on Krotzer’s work. “I have worked with Henry for many years on 43 projects, from an historic church in New Orleans to a farmhouse in New England,” she says. “It has been enlightening and challenging. The book will be a tour of our renovation projects, yet none has ever been more rewarding than working with Henry on our home.”