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A member of the well-known Swiss family, Mere d’Aubigne, of Geneva, John A. Merle took a leading role in Swiss affairs in New Orleans. When a group of prominent Swiss residents decided to form a Swiss Benevolent Society at a meeting in 1837, he was named it’s president.

A few days after the Society’s first meeting a large number of Swiss residents of New Orleans addressed a letter to the Swiss government recommending that John A. Merle be made Consul of Switzerland and on August 27, 1838 he was appointed.

Unfortunately, the Merle family encountered financial difficulties, possibly as a result of the finanical panic of 1837. On December 10, 1840 the Parish Court for the City of New Orleans issued an order for the sale of seventeen parcels of real estate, forty-six slaves, and various stocks surrendered by Merle to his creditors- one of these assests was the Beauregard-Keyes House.

Before losing the house, however, John and his wife Anais designed and built the French parterre garden that inspired Mrs. Keyes’s restoration. In fact, when Mrs. Merle passed away on January 9, 1847 she was buried in the Girod Street Cemetery. In 1957, that same cemetery was famously destroyed to make way for the construction of the Superdome. By a stroke of serendipitous good fortune, the inscribed slab from Mrs. Merle’s tomb was salavaged and given to Mrs. Keyes who mounted it on the wall of the restored Beauregard-Keyes House garden where it can still be seen today. 

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