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The Story Of A Rescue


The 912 Orleans Street property was purchased by a Mlle. Julie Robert Avart in 1827 from a free man of color named Henry Simon.  Although there is no data as to whether she purchased the house or simply the lot, it is not likely at that time that a free man of color would have possessed such a house.  The best probability is that she purchased the lot and built the house herself.  In 1827, Julie Robert Avart was fifty-five years old.  According to documents she frequently bought property around the city.   At the time the French Quarter was an exciting place to live for a wealthy middle-aged woman living alone and would have been just the right size for her.

"According to papers accompanying her will, she was a spinster and died in this house.  She was the daughter of Don Valentin Roberto Avart, a native of Punta Cortada, Spain, who had come to Louisiana by way of Santo Domingo and who had died in New Orleans in 1807 at the age of sixty-six."  Old maps of the city show his plantation holdings stretching from the River all the way to Lake Pontchartrain.  Many present-day Uptown streets, such as Amelia, Penniston, Robert, Soniat, still bear names of various members of his family as his lands became part of the expanding city.

"On August 18, 1858, the house passed from Julie Robert Avart to Louis Theodule Delassize, upon her death at the age of eighty-six."   

Julie Robert Avart is buried in an old St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, between Basin St and Claiborne.  Mr. Lowrey says he found her headstone completely by accident while looking at a book of cemetery photographs.  

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For More Information Please Call the Listing Agent

Thom Beaty


Historic Homes Specialist

French Quarter Realty

912 Orleans Street was purchased in December 2008 from Mr. Walter Lowrey.  We had been looking for a place in the Quarter for weekend getaways from Baton Rouge.  The day we went visiting properties listed for sale we found our treasure.  While restoration hadn't been done since 1964 this jewel still shown with brilliant potential.  We had not been on the search for an entire home complete with a courtyard and guesthouses, but the fact that it had off-street parking for two cars warmed us up to the idea.  The real selling point though was Mr. Lowrey himself; his love for this home, its history, and the story of its rescue.

The Lowrey's raised their children in this home and lived here for over 40 years.  After their massive restoration, he penned his memories of the journey in a detailed and amusing story, 912 Orleans Street, The Story Of A Rescue.  It is rich with the history of the French Quarter and its natives as well as the adventure and struggles of repairs.  He gave us a copy of the book when we met him but people stop by the house and give us their copies from time to time and we even get them in the mail. 

In his extensive research of the archives at the Cabildo Library and the Louisiana State Museum, Mr. Lowery found information about his newly purchased gem.  Those documents are still available and of course, Google can prove to take up an entire weekend historical deep dive of the woman who owned this home as well as her family.

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The 19th-century townhouse-style Spanish home has several original remnants left in the structure. One of those is the cypress beams in the attic.  The attic flooring found by Mr. Lowrey was cypress, some planks having bark along each edge.  He speculates in his book that they might likely have been cut by the slaves on the Avart plantation. While the new joists and supports don't require them, the solid swamp cypress is still firmly planted in the masonry.

All of the walls are the original brick, masonry covered on the outside.  One brick wall is left exposed in the upstairs guest room.  The gallery posts outside this room are also known to be original.  There was a cistern found in the courtyard by Mr. Lowrey and also during our renovations.  Ballast stones were found under the foundation, either as an original foundation or as part of the original rampart to the city supposed to have run down Dauphine Street.  

The fanlight that graces the back entrance was replaced by Mr. Lowrey with one taken from the Presbytere on Jackson Square during their extensive renovation at the same time.  While slightly bigger, the elliptical fanlight was virtually identical to the original.  The pine flooring in the upstairs guest room was also installed by Mr. Lowrey.  While the balcony ironwork is not original, the cathedral arch design is identical.  The lion fountain, made of Georgia marble, was purchased by Mr. Lowrey from a building on St. Charles being demolished and turned into apartments.

As you can see in the images from the book, the home was in complete dilapidation, The house had been sold multiple times during the depression and inhabited by multiple families and a pack of dogs.  Mr. Lowrey did an astounding job restoring this home to a livable and updated version.  We wanted to keep her history alive and spared no expense in updating it to the newest standards and our personal tastes while maintaining its undeniable significance.

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