SLAVERY AT BK HOUSE, 1826-1864
The property at 1113 Chartres Street, now known as the Beauregard-Keyes House, was built in New Orleans in 1826. Slavery was legal in Louisiana until 1864 and much of the state's wealth to that point was dependent upon an economy that employed human bondage.* The first three families who owned this property--LeCarpentier, Merle and Andry/Garidel--did own and rely on the labor of enslaved people. Enslaved individuals at BK House lived in the second floor of the quarters in the rear of the courtyard, a four-room dwelling which still stands today. As enslaved people in Louisiana, like elsewhere in the American south, were rarely taught to read or write, personal records recounting the experiences of the enslaved who lived and worked at 1113 Chartres Street likely do not exist. There are, however, a number of documents that record their existence and give at least a hint of insight into the lives and experiences of the many people who lived at what is now the BK House as a result of a system of oppression.
LeCarpentier Merle Andry/Garidel
*The vast majority of enslaved people in Louisiana were of African (or African/Native American) descent, as was the case at BK House. New Orleans, unlike other areas of the south, also had a prosperous community of antebellum free people of color, or, gens de couleur libres. This is mentioned here because there were likely a number of free people of color associated with the BK House and research is also being conducted to explore these connections.
A very special thank you to Dr. Annie Doucet, instructor of French at Tulane University & Chiara Azzaretti and Jaclyn Maraldo, current Ph.D. candidates in Tulane University's Ph.D. Program in French Studies. The many hours they spent providing staff at BK House with high-quality translation work was indelible to this project. Special thanks, also, to Jayme Songy, a summer intern in 2018, who provided valuable help with transcriptions and organizing of our research findings.
The rear dependency buildings/former slave quarters at BK House, circa 2015. Living quarters were on the second floor and the original kitchen was on the first floor. The side buildings were additions added in the early 20th century. The courtyard would not have been a manicured leisure space in 1826, but rather a garden and work area where the daily operations of the house--cooking, gardening, laundry, and many other demanding tasks--were conducted by the enslaved.
This 1934 image of the dependency building at BK House is provided by the Historic American Buildings Survey/Library of Congress. This is the oldest known photo of the former slave quarters.
Early plans for the house at 1113 Chartres Street, now the Beauregard-Keyes House. The big house is front right, with the slave quarters/dependency, carriage house, and garden area (now the courtyard) located just behind. The side garden (which today can be seen from the street) is front left. Source: Orleans Parish Notarial Archives. Plan by C.A. Armas dated October 7, 1865.