A mighty wind may blow, howl, scream and threaten destruction, but never underestimate the resolve of a city whose beauty and soul is rooted in its centuries-old history – a city seemingly built to entice and enchant the eye as well as the heart of those who admire and appreciate this architectural landmark called New Orleans.
New Orleans architectural styles fascinate me more and more with each and every visit to the Crescent City. With a flair for finery reminiscent of the 18th century French and Spanish influence from which it came, New Orleans architectural elements are without a doubt some of the most notable, emulated and coveted features in architectural and interior design today.
Beginning with an iconic favorite, the iconic gas lamp is synonymous with New Orleans architectural style. Authentically crafted in antiqued copper, the Bevolo French Quarter lamp is one the most recognizable architectural elements lighting the streets, sidewalks, storefronts and entryways throughout the French Quarter and Garden District. Cementing its role as a prominent New Orleans architectural element, Bevolo Gas and Electric Lights began in the French Quarter in 1945. The design vision and expert craftsmanship of Andrew Bevolo Sr. together with the tales of renowned architect A. Hays Town resulted in a brilliant design execution. The French Quarter gas lamp is quintessential New Orleans and an architectural element that commands attention to detail.
New Orleans’ historic landmarks The Cabildo ~ May 1936
Columns, ornate wrought-iron laced designs and historic balconies rule the New Orleans architectural elements royal court. These sublime features wrap the city in intricate detail so historically ingrained and so hauntingly associated with the French and Spanish style architectural history of New Orleans.
“New Orleans makes it possible to go to Europe without ever leaving the United States.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Thoughts of what once was and what could be again dance the dance of possibility in the minds of restorers, the hands of architects, the boards of designers and the hearts of the New Orleans devoted. Purveyors of architectural grandeur understand and infinitely appreciate the fine point of architectural perfection in an imperfect state.
Age is a visitor from time that comes to the New Orleans architectural styles party often as an uninvited guest, but one embraced for its weathered and worn wonder with awed appreciation nonetheless.
Exposed brick walls epitomize traditional 19th century New Orleans architecture. If these walls could talk, what stories they could tell!
The word on the streets of New Orleans is revered as an art form. Dating back over 100 years, encaustic tiles were used throughout the city of New Orleans to identify street names.
Numerous buildings and streets of The French Quarter display the painted and embossed encaustic tiles as a historic form of identification of the old Spanish colonial street names.
Opulent crystal chandeliers are synonymous with the finery that is New Orleans’ antiquities. Ornate moldings, ceiling medallions, elliptical archways and decorative trimmings denote the architectural element hallmarks of the city’s Greek Revival homes.
Dating back to the 1850s, the ornamental wrought and cast iron balconies, fences, galleries and gates of the Vieux Carré stand tall as the prominent architectural element most associated with the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans.
Pairing these two design elements together is a bespoke design element demonstrated throughout the Crescent City.
Elaborate in design and characteristic of the French Quarter, ornamental ironwork frames a large portion of the landmarks and homes of New Orleans.
The New Orleans Shotgun house possesses an exterior charm as unique as the feather, scroll and gingerbread architectural elements for which they are known. A shotgun house is elongated in length and narrow in width with rooms flowing one into another. Modeled in Eastlake, Neoclassical Revival and Italianate styles, the shotgun houses throughout the City of New Orleans were built with lot size constraints in mind. Form follows function applies here.
Distinctive color combinations and Victorian gingerbread or lacy brackets characterize the front façade of the New Orleans’ shotgun house.
Shuttered doors and windows continue to be a prominent fixture among the classic New Orleans architectural element scene. Adopting and adapting exteriors to mirror the customary French architectural design element of louvered shutters on all windows caught on and remains one of the most instantly recognizable traits of New Orleans design. Shuttered doors and windows were strictly a utilitarian feature with a three fold purpose early on- privacy, protection from wind and sun and to control ventilation. The climate of New Orleans is not one that is conducive to complete comfort in the spring and summer months. Shuttered doors and windows remain a characteristic feature of French Quarter buildings, restaurants and hotels today. I have opened many a window and French door and pulled many a pair of shutters my way over the years to block the noise from the streets of the French Quarter.
An architectural enigma of sorts in a city so well know for public displays, the New Orleans’ courtyard is viewed as an architectural feat of patio splendor. The New Orleans courtyard is an intimate walled garden usually tucked away from street view- a hidden and shaded Shangri-La. Flowing fountains, lush plants and fragrant tropicals line the walls of the courtyard providing a tranquil place for residents, tourists and locals alike to ensconced themselves in privacy. This is my idea of The Big Easy.
New Orleans’ native-born son, the incomparable Louis Armstrong, croons the question “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” The influence of the New Orleans architectural element in today’s interiors and exteriors is undeniable. Gorgeous copper, antique New Orleans bricks, ornamental iron, ceiling medallions, ornate chandeliers and shutters drive my interior design and decorating choices. I guess I do know what it means to love the architectural styles of New Orleans.