French Quarter renovators keep Victorian vibe, ornate crown molding to original fireplace | Entertainment / Life
Layers of intricate gingerbread ornamentation and a multi-colored palette of peach, sage, and terracotta on the outside herald the Victorian beginnings of the 19th-century home of Bob Heaps and Jane Cooper.
Inside, under 14-foot ceilings lined with ornate moldings that combine jagged joinery and button-shaped medallions, the same color scheme, with tones of peach, sienna, and orange, complements the brickwork. from the original fireplace. Some of the antique furniture is from the Cooper family, some found locally.
With its layers of color and holiday decor, the residence offers a festive, warm and historic prelude to the Christmas weekend of December 19 as part of the 2021 French Quarter Holiday Homes Tour, sponsored by Patio Planters of the Old square.
As owners of the Decatur Street Grande Krewe store (along with partners Rory and Carla Arriola), Heaps and Cooper specialize in wines and spirits. be exact. But even without a little sparkling wine, visiting the house would be a treat.
The property dates back to the early 1700s. The first description of the lot appears in the Collins Diboll Vieux CarrÃ© Survey (part of the Historic New Orleans Collection) in 1722 and the first sale named, to FranÃ§ois Dusuau, a colored man free, in 1810. Several transactions later, in 1835, the property was sold to a free woman of color, Caroline Gentilly Dreux. The house itself, originally a double, is said to have been built around 1870. The current owners purchased it in 2011.
Between them, Cooper and Heaps have helped manage three historic New Orleans properties. Cooper owned a late 19th-century home in the Garden District, and together Cooper and Heaps renovated parts of the French Quarter home and the Marigny building that houses the Great Krewe. The latter, which they rent, was originally a textile warehouse and had a dirt floor when they first considered it a potential location.
âI guess that makes us conservatives,â said Cooper, from Wisconsin. âI can’t imagine living in a new house or having my office or business in a new building. This is the character we want.
Since the 2,400 square foot residence was converted from a double to a single in the 1960s, the front living room is divided by an original double-sided brick fireplace.
On one side is a grand piano, which was shipped to Werlein’s Music on Canal Street in 1901 and later used for the early iterations of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at the Municipal Auditorium, where it was played by luminaries such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie, is the focal point. The owners use it regularly as part of Cooper and his friend Tonya Exchos’ monthly house concert series on Sunday evenings, featuring local musicians.
For the visit, an 11-foot Fraser tree traditionally decorated by Harold’s Plants catches the eye in the corner near the piano and a Victorian sofa; a fresh garland and Christmas stockings dress the fireplace. Santa Claus collected by Cooper and a German Christmas pyramid are also on display among the holiday decor.
âOur adornments are eclectic,â Cooper said, âbut our colors are traditional. We have adhered to red and green.
The cranberry red dining room features built-in porcelain cabinetry painted pink inside and a formal crystal chandelier above an antique dining table with a St. Nicholas porcelain motif from Fitz & Floyd.
The living room, wrapped in a rich slate blue, features original artwork by Peter Max and Alexander Ivanov as well as an antique wooden cabinet that has been repurposed to become the couple’s perfect television spot.
The original wood floors, windows and French doors remain intact. Patio doors open to quintessential views of the French Quarter: ferns, ivy, petunias and other plants hanging from cracked masonry walls, a small brick landing accented with potted herbs, and an enclosed slab patio flanked by quarters service on the second floor. Gardening is the domain of Heaps and, like the decor, is designed to be true to the home and the city.
âWe try to maintain the authenticity of the house and the time, and we think we’ve done a good job and we want to share that,â Heaps said. Although he is originally from Baltimore, he maintains that he was born to live in New Orleans.
The couple remodeled the kitchen with handcrafted birch cabinetry, new appliances including a professional-grade La Cornue stove (Cooper and Heaps love to cook), and new lighting. As in the front living room, a brick fireplace in the center of the room divides the space, allowing for a separate workspace on the other side for Cooper, who worked for many years in healthcare, launched a healthcare advocacy company and now teaches entrepreneurship at the Freeman School of Business at Tulane University.
Adding to the Old World vibe, a Directoire style fruitwood work table used as Cooper’s desk; an iron and marble French bistro table surrounded by wooden chairs covered with floral brocade that the couple found in Venice, Italy; a classic rolling ladder; and a graceful but steep wooden staircase.
The master bedroom houses an art deco wardrobe and a four-poster canopy bed, both acquired from the former owners of the house. On one side of the bedroom, an African mask from the early 20th century, from the Steve Martin Gallery, is perched atop a stand on a wall.
âThe white paint symbolizes peace, spirits and the afterlife,â Cooper said of the recent purchase.
The vintage charm of the master bathroom’s white paneling and clawfoot tub leads to the private patio, which is planted with subtropical greenery in raised beds and shaded by a Japanese magnolia tree and 30-foot oleander. The soothing sound of streaming water comes from a small fountain that circulates under the aged patina of a wooden frame.
While the house is open to the public for viewing, on Christmas Day it is reserved for Cooper, Heaps and their two adorable pugs, Pearl and Deuce. After exchanging gifts and going for a run, the owners enjoy a cup of joy (a Bloody Mary for him, a mimosa for her) and a homemade Christmas dinner.
âWe are approaching the day smoothly,â Heaps said of the couple’s Christmas ritual.
âWe spend this time together,â Cooper added. “Just the two of us.”
French Quarter Vacation Home Tour
WHAT: A walk through five houses in the Vieux CarrÃ©, as part of the annual tour sponsored by the Patio Planters du Vieux CarrÃ©. The proceeds help pay for Caroling in Jackson Square, a New Orleans tradition since 1946 that takes place later the same day.
WHEN: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on December 19.
TICKETS: For tickets, $ 20 in advance online and $ 25 the day of, visit patioplanters.net. Dall tour tickets will be available as long as they last at Creole delicacies, 533 St. Ann St. in Jackson Square.
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