New Orleans Garden District History

The home of many famous citizens, New Orleans Garden District has recently been the residence to such well known people as Anne Rice and the Archie Manning Family. It is quite a study in New Orleans high society and gives one a true picture into the social structure of New Orleans life.

Originally known as the Livaudais Plantation, the land became subdivided into large estates in the early to mid-1800’s for well-off American society. Desiring to find a place where they could live separated from the lower-class Creole society, the Noveau-Riche found this section of New Orleans to be the perfect location in which to build elaborate mansions. The edifices had a variety of Architectural styles including Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Country, Colonial and Georgian.

The extravagance and elaborate designs of these mansions offended the Creoles, especially the idea of these Americans designing large front yards. The ostentation presented by these new landowners, caused many Creoles to look upon the Americans as being without class. It was actually the Creoles that named the area, “The Garden District” as a rebuke of the upper-class neighborhood. For someone to put a large yard in front of their home, in the Creoles eyes, was like bathing in public. It was just not proper.

The Garden District had been home to such Americans as Bradish Johnson, Jr., son of Bradish Johnson, Sr. of New York, a well-known financier and head of the Equitable Trust Company, Equitable Life Assurance Company and Director of the American Cotton Oil Company, among many other board positions. Bradish Johnson, Jr. married Emma M. Grima of New Orleans and built a family home in the Garden District of New Orleans.

Another well-known citizen was Sophronie Claiborne Marigny, daughter of the first Governor of Louisiana. Commonly known as the Clairborne Cottage, it was called “Rosegate” by its resident. Sophronie would marry a famous political and military man by the name of Mandeville Marigny, and would give birth to three children before her death in 1890. Her husband would also die in the same year. Eventually Clairborne Cottage would be purchased in 1995 by famous American author, Anne Rice. This home would be the backdrop used in the book, “The Violin”.

As a favorite son of the city of New Orleans, Archie Manning gained a reputation as one of the best quarterbacks of the New Orleans Saints football team, being drafted in 1971 and having a career that spanned 14 years. He bought a home in the district on First Street. Here, he would raise his family, inlcuding two sons, Peyton and Eli, who would go on to become star quarterbacks in the National Football League themselves.

Along with these famous citizens, the Garden District is also home to some rather nefarious occupants as well. With such a rich history of residents over centuries, it is said that many of the past inhabitants have never left, wandering the grounds as spirits. To that effect, there are many ghost tours given for tourists of the Garden District.

New Orleans Garden District is without a doubt a place that has seen much history and controversy. It is a place that was used to divide social classes, and to that end, also a location of conflict between its residents and the lower-class. It has much to offer those who are visiting New Orleans, and definitely a tour you will want to include in your plans.