BK House & Gardens HISTORY
Opposite the old Ursuline Convent on Chartres Street stands the Historic BK House and Gardens. The House is now owned by the Keyes Foundation, which was established by late resident Frances Parkinson Keyes, to ensure the preservation of the house and garden which she restored. Since the construction of the House in 1826, many different residents have contributed to the stories that make up the fabric of this unique historical site.
Timeline of House’s Former Inhabitants, 1826-present
Explore the links below to learn more, or come by for a tour!
The short film above was made by WYES Studios in honor of New Orleans’s tricentennial in 2018 and is a brief but excellent introduction to the home’s nearly 200 year history.
The LeCarpentier and Correjolles Years: 1825-1833
The house was designed by architect Francois Correjolles for a wealthy auctioneer by the name of Joseph Le Carpentier.
Pictured to the left are the original plans dated August 11, 1826.
See the Art Works page for more information on the architect.
Paul Morphy: 1837 – 1884
In 1829, LeCarpentier’s daughter, Louise Therese Felicite Thelcide LeCarpentier married Michel Alonzo Morphy.
On June 22, 1837, their son Charles Paul Morphy, was born.
He would grow up to be the chess champion of the world.
The John A. Merle Years: 1833-1841
In 1833, LeCarpentier sold the house to John Ami Merle who later became the Swiss Consul to New Orleans.
His wife, Anais Merle, designed the House’s first parterre garden.
The Andry-Garidel Years: 1841-1865
Josephine Laveau Trudeau, the widow of Bernard Noel (Manuel) Andry, purchased the house and parterre garden from the creditors of John A. Merle in 1841. Her daughter Adonai Andry married L. Armand Garidel and they moved into the house next door.
Madame Andry and her daughter continued to maintain and improve the garden. Following her death, Madame Andry’s daughter and her husband inherited the house and continued to live there until the end of the Civil War.
Slavery at BK House1826-1864
Enslaved people of African descent lived at the BK House from the time it was built* until-most likely- 1864, when the Lousiana state constitution first abolished slavery following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. They lived in the second story of the quarters behind the house (which still stands today) and worked in the kitchen and courtyard below.
Because enslaved people were rarely taught to read or write, far too little is known about their personal thoughts and experiences while living here. In some cases, attitudes and feelings held by the enslaved are evident from the official documents that kept record of their ownership.
*Though research is ongoing, it is very likely that the laborers who built BK House in 1826 were enslaved men.
General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard 1865-1868
General Beauregard never owned 1113 Chartres. However, upon his return from the Civil War in late 1865, he, along with his two sons, rented the entire house from Dominique Lanata (see next segment below).
His second wife, Caroline Deslonde, died while he was away at war and her family mansion on Esplanade Avenue, which the two had shared prior to the war, was sold at auction by her heirs.
The Lanata and Giacona Years: 1865-1926
Dominique Lanata purchased the house from Madame Garidel on October 28, 1865, as a rental. It is not known what tenants followed General Beauregard after he left in 1868, but by 1873 one of Dominique Lanata’s relatives, Antonie Lanata, was living in the house.
In 1904 the Lanata heirs sold the house to Corrado Giacona. The Giaconas operated a wholesale liquor business in the house (Giacona & Co.) and became famous after they murdered some of the local mafia on the back gallery.
Beauregard House Inc. 1926-1955
The house suffered from severe disrepair during the early 20th century. Fortunately, it was saved from destruction when it was purchased on July 8, 1926 by the well-known New Orleans architect, General Allison Owen, whose father, William Miler Owen, was one of the founders of the Louisiana Historical Association.
General Owen’s purchase of the house allowed the Beauregard House, Incorporated, established for the purpose of preserving the house as a memorial to General Beauregard time to stabilize.
Plans for creating a Beauregard memorial house had to be put on hold although, the name associated with the house remained. For several years, the house was partly occupied by Warrington House, a home for homeless men, and by Alcoholics Anonymous. Only a few repairs were made during this period, but enough to keep the house from falling to ruin.
Photo: Genthe, Arnold, 1869-1942, courtesy Library of Congress, 1920.
Frances Parkinson Keyes 1945-1970
Frances Parkinson Keyes, in the Author’s Note of her book, Madame Castel’s Lodger, gives her own account of how she became fortuitously involved with the Beauregard House.
“My original tenancy of Beauregard House was apparently a happy accident. I stumbled on it when I was searching for temporary headquarters and nothing seemed available. But I have long since ceased to believe that such occurrences are accidental; I am convinced that they are part of a pattern in which a power higher than ours has had a hand.”
With the help of architect Sam Wilson, Mrs. Keyes undertook the restoration of the house and established the Keyes Foundation which has maintained the house as a museum since her death in 1970.
The art work also reflects the Vieux Carre through portraits of the original architect of the BK House, Francois Correjolles, (who designed at least 17 other strucutres in the Quarter) and Sam Wilson who first sketched the house at age 19 and would go on to become one of the pre-eminent preservation architects in the country.
The painting pictured to the left is one of the most copied paintings of a VIRGIN AND CHILD, originally done by Bartelome Estaban Murillo, Spanish, 1617-1682. This version likely dates to the last quarter of the 19th century. Oil on canvas, 62×43 inches, the orginal was painted circa 1650 and hangs in the Pitti Palace, Florence, Italy.