History of Jazz Quarters New Orleans…
The French Quarter’s Unique Creole Hotel
Jazz Quarters New Orleans is located just across Rampart Street from the French Quarter, the often-clamorous neighborhood also referred to as Vieux Carré (Old Square). Our Creole Hotel is therefore located only steps from the French Quarter, in Faubourg Tremé, commonly known as Tremé, which, like nearby Faubourg Marigny, is a neighborhood more subdued than the French Quarter. Yet it is one with a history as rich as any neighborhood in New Orleans, for it has always played a central role in the history of the city.
While a diverse neighborhood, Tremé is perhaps best known as the oldest neighborhood of “Free People of Color” in the United States and, as such, is the only place where people of color were able to own property before the Civil War. A history of our Creole Hotel would not be complete without history of the surrounding area, so let’s begin with a history of the neighborhood.
In 1717, two years before the City of New Orleans was founded, the King of France, King Louis XIV, gave the Compagnie des Indes a 25-year monopoly of control over the economy of the French Colony, properly called La Louisiane, once they transported 6000 French settlers and 3000 black slaves to the colony, which stretched from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian to the Rocky Mountains. Compagnie des Indes, in turn, awarded large land grants called Concessions to wealthy landowners to stimulate the economy. Our neighborhood of Tremé was first developed in 1725, when Chevalier Charles de Morand, who was an employee of the Companie des Indies, established the first brickyard in New Orleans, in the nearby area of Bayou Road (the southeastern leg
of which is now called Governor Nicholls Street).
Morand eventually was given a Concession by the Compagnie des Indes (although he also paid an amount for the land) and built a large plantation house on Governor Nicholls Street next to the currently located Saint Augustine Church, just around the corner and two blocks northeast of our Creole Hotel. In 1756, the year of his death, Morand extended his land holdings to include the area bounded by present-day Governor Nicholls, St. Bernard Avenue, Galvez and Rampart Streets, which included the land of our Creole Hotel. The primary product of the plantation continued to be red brick, and Morand contracted with Compagnie des Indes to produce brick for their use.
After his death, his widow, Renee de la Chaise married Alexandre Latil, of a neighboring plantation, although relations between Latil and the children of Charles de Morand were less than cordial and accusations of mismanagement arose. To resolve the tensions, the plantation was put up for auction and purchased in 1772 by Charles de Morand’s eldest son, also named Charles, yet the plantation was notarized under the title of Morand’s Spanish-language alias, “Pablo Moro”, although he went by Carlos because New Orleans was by now under Spanish control. In 1774 Carlos Morand sold the land to Paul Moreau, who died within a year leaving the plantation to his widow, Julie Prevost. Although she remained on the plantation until her death in 1794, the property passed to her granddaughter, Julie Moreau, since her oldest son, Julie’s father did not survive her.
Claude Tremé, the man for whom most of the land between today’s North Rampart and North Broad Streets was named, actually owned only a portion of it and that just for a decade. The circumstances surrounding Claude Tremé’s life in New Orleans, his marriage, his acquisition of land and the disposition of it are unusual at best, yet we will concentrate here on his land dealings.
A hat maker from Burgundy, in 1783 Claude Tremé emigrated from France and within eleven years had met and married Julie Moreau, thereby acquiring the title to the Plantation, which he had no intention of operating as a brickyard. In 1798, he saw an opportunity in providing new lands for the growing population of New Orleans and began subdividing the plantation and selling lots. By 1800, Tremé had sold off and subdivided most of the land that Chevalier Charles de Morand had acquired between 1725 and his death in 1756. Many of the lots surrounding the Plantation House, which, as previously mentioned, was located on Nicholls Street, just around the corner and one block northeast of our hotel, were sold to gens des couleur libres or “free people of color”, many of whom were musicians and artisans. Lots were also sold to a cross-section of the city’s population, including French and Spanish colonial settlers.
In 1810, the city of New Orleans acquired the remaining plantation land (including the Plantation House which housed several educational institutions before eventually being torn down in 1926) that was not previously sold for the sum of $40,000 and followed Claude Tremé’s lead by immediately subdividing the land into individual plots, which the city then sold. Faubourg Tremé became a part of the city of New Orleans in 1812, and it was soon after that the first Creole Cottages comprising the current Jazz Quarters were built.
While the process of identifying the origins and history of each of the buildings, or Creole Cottages, within the Jazz Quarters New Orleans is an ongoing process, the task is made easier by the existence of the New Orleans Notarial Archives. The archives hold some 40,000 000 pages of signed acts, including real estate transactions, compiled by the notaries of New Orleans over three centuries. The New Orleans Notarial Archives is the only archive dedicated to notarial records in the United States, and will to be of value to us as we continue the on-going project of understanding the history of our Creole Hotel. The simple fact that each real estate transaction was notarized and archived, gives historians a wealth of interesting information about the architectural history of New Orleans.
The Williams Research Center of the Historic New Orleans Collection, which documents the history of the French Quarter, has also been a helpful resource for us because of our proximity to the Quarter. Our research there gave us an understanding of the history of the “Dolliole Cottages,” which were previously referred to as the Jean Louis and Louis Henry suites and now called the Marsalis and Armstrong Luxury Cottages, located on our property facing rue St. Philip at 1125 and 1127 respectively.
The Dolliole family were carpenters and entrepreneurs and Pierre Dolliole, J.L. Dolliole and Norbert Fortier purchased the large lot that included 1125, 1127 and 1129 (this third Creole cottage now demolished and located where our parking lot is today) from the City of New Orleans Corporation for $670 on July 18, 1816, and were numbered lots 30 and 31 on the Jacques Tanesse survey of that year.
Two members of the family partnership sold the property to the third, Jean Louis Dolliole, in 1821, and he built the three houses that year. Jean Louis Dolliole then sold the fine, three-bay, single Creole cottage at 1127 rue St. Philip to Louis Henry in 1857 for $1900. It features one bricked and gabled end, a brick facade, and a frame, recessed, open gallery on the north Rampart street side. The entrance surround is a reversed Greek Key molding, and the original windows are almost full-length. The lotus swirl, wooden brackets and window-door cornices were added at the turn of the century. This house at 1127 has sold at least fifteen times in the past 150 years, bringing the highest sale price of $9700 in 1970. A now-removed 1971 mural on the masonry wall of the rue St. Claude side of 1127 depicted the exodus of black citizens of the Tremé area when the city administration, in the 1960’s, began demolition for a cultural center. This mural was one of several by Bruce Brice.
Another outstanding example of a three-bay Creole cottage at 1125 St Philip has a brick front, one frame side, and one brick side with fire-extension parapet. It was part of the Dolliole property, built at the same time as 1127 with the same floor plan and materials.
The history of other suites, the Kermit Ruffins Cottage (formerly the Claude Tremé), the Pete Fountain Cottage (formerly the Marie Josephine), and the Connick Cottage, (formerly the Cozy Garden Cottage, are still being researched, yet they are Creole Cottages of the same period, the early 19th century.
If you were to stand on the outside of the Jazz Quarters New Orleans property, on St. Claude, looking toward the street-side buildings containing our Irvin Mayfield and Trombone Shorty Suites, (formerly the Maypole and Monks Suites), as well as the Michael White room (formerly the Sunshine room) and our Garlands Dining Room (which is named after a previous owner that converted the property into a Creole Hotel), you would see that the building’s facade reveal a circa-1840 style frame double Creole Cottages at 1006-08 and 1010-12, the facades of which might be restored to reflect a street scene as it appeared in 1850. (While we are referring to St. Claude as the name of the street that forms the corner of our property with St. Philip, in 2011 the name of St. Claude was changed to Henriette Delille Street, honoring the New Orleans-born “free woman of color” who in 1847 founded what became known at the Sisters of the Holy family in Tremé.)
Further down, the facade of 1014-16 St Claude is known historically as the Laurent-Roux Cottage, as the building, and the suite was once called, yet now it is the Music Cottage. The lot for the Laurent-Roux Cottage was sold to the city in 1810. On June 12, 1819, it was purchased by Jean Laboreaud for $600 plus ground rent, before notary Michel de Armas.
The same year, Laboreaud sold part of the lot, 30 feet on St. Claude by 60 feet, to Jacques Laurent for $325 and 6% ground rent. There, Laurent build 1014-16 St Claude, selling it on August 30, 1821, to Anne Barron for $925. Mlle Barron, from Kingston, Jamaica, did not live in the house, but at the corner of St. Philip and Tremé. At the time of purchase, she was unmarried and fifty years old with one living child, Paul Roux, aged 24. He was married to Eulalie Fauchier and they had one daughter, Marie Josephine.
On March 12, 1819, Paul Roux acquired the property from the succession of his mother. When he died, the land with building and improvements was sold at public auction on July 1, 1851. His widow reacquired it for $1000 and retained it for thirty years, selling on December 1, 1883 to Andre Doriocourt for $950. The house, probably brick-between-posts beneath weatherboard, is important not only as an early house built between 1819 and 1821, but because it remained in the same family from 1821 until 1883.”
The Jazz Quarters New Orleans was previously called the Garlands Guest House, named for the owner that converted the property to a hotel, and whose name is now preserved as that of our dining room. The Garlands Guest House was originally established in 1993. The property was purchased by its current owners in March of 2011, who conducted extensive renovations throughout the rest of the year. Our highest priority is the complete satisfaction of our guests, whom we enjoy welcoming from all over the world.
We will continue our on-going project to research the history of the Jazz Quarters New Orleans, whose name itself reflects the important role of music in our city, so that we might continue to uncover more facts which about the unique history of our little corner of New Orleans.