New Orleans, dripping with charm and history, a tourism mecca known for jazz music, boisterous fun and a world-class culinary scene. In high times (such as Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and bowl games) lodging rates skyrocket to the advantage of second home owners who wish to vacate and lease out their properties. And for those who don’t, attending those events is all the sweeter when they can crash in their own crib at night in the Big Easy.
Yesterday, Jon showcased some properties outside of the French Quarter, noting that he prefers quieter environs to raucous tourist areas. But for party-hearty types who want a spot near the action, the logical place to start shopping is the 300-year-old “Vieux Carré,” home to often rowdy (actually pretty much all the time rowdy) Bourbon Street and some of the city’s most famous bars and restaurants.
A car is useless here. It’s faster on foot to ford through crowds of folks adhering to the local creed, laissez les bon temps rouler. Being in the center of the merriment doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing taste. Just one block off Bourbon is 906 Royal Street, where condominium units B and F are up for sale as a duo. The two units are set in a trio of picturesque, interconnecting townhomes built by one of NOLA’s most interesting families.
The homes were commissioned in 1838 by the wealthy Widow Marie Miltenberger for her sons Gustave, Aristide, and Alphonse, back in the days when family members lived side by side. Her youngest son, Alphonse, an architect and importer of cast iron, was influential in the spread of “galleries” in French Quarter architecture — covered balconies that ran the length of buildings, embellished with ornate ironwork.
But, it was Alphonse’s granddaughter, Alice, who brought special fame to the “Miltenberger houses.” Her family returned to France during the Civil War, where young Alice charmed Paris. At the age of 17, she lived up to her French Quarter address, marrying first the Duke of Richelieu, and after his death, Prince Albert I of Monaco. Long before Grace Kelly married into the Grimaldi family, the first American Princess of Monaco (and the first American to marry a reigning monarch) was the pride of her hometown of New Orleans.
The ornate ironwork her grandfather commissioned to decorate the balconies wrapping the facade of Alice’s childhood home has enchanted sight-seers for eons. A flight of stairs at the entry leads to Unit B’s double parlor, replete with original stately ceiling medallions, plaster crown moldings, and woodwork. Floor-to-14-foot-ceiling windows in the living area and galley kitchen afford a view of the gallery and the Royal Street scene below. Fireplaces with marble mantels and crystal chandeliers adorn the parlor and the master bedroom, which has an adjacent study. Kitchen and master bath have small footprints by today’s standards, but are updated with modern amenities.
With a set up like this, you’re sure to have frequent visitors. The cozy guest suite, Unit F, with its own private balcony overlooking an interior courtyard, has a full bath and kitchenette, and a fireplace, as well, in this case with its original marble mantel.
And, here’s there’s the all-important gallery— 25 feet long and a place to see and be seen for going on 180 years. If these these walls could talk! Units B and F are offered as a package for $1.5 million, represented by Jane Krug of Latter & Blum. Pricey? Yes, for 1,504 square feet, but in this case, location, location, location applies. For those whose heart belongs on Bourbon Street, “just around the corner” sounds just fine.