High Dollar Homes: A St. Charles Avenue gem - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

High Dollar Homes: A St. Charles Avenue gem


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - St. Charles Avenue is known for its mansions, but one is often called the grandest of them all. The old W.P. Brown house in the 4700 block of St. Charles is so big - it can be intimidating.

The big stone house at Valence is a conversation piece for streetcar riders and a frequent stop for tours.

"It's really the finest home along St. Charles Avenue," said Architect Robby Cangelosi, of Koch and Wilson Architects. "It's done in Richardsonian Romanesque Revival style."

Wealthy cotton mogul and Hibernia bank founder William Perry Brown built the stone palace as a gift for his wife, Marguerite, in 1904.

"Legend says they went and did a grand tour of Europe. He promised the wife their house would be ready to move in when they got back," Cangelosi said.

Before you even enter the house, you get a taste of opulence. The steps that lead to the front door are cut from one solid block of marble, shipped from Italy. When you step inside the architectural wonder, you are blown away. It's now the home of attorney John Houghtaling and his wife, Yulia.

In the grand parlor there are French antiques dating back to the early 1800s by Napoleon's furniture maker, George J. Cobb. The mantel from Italy is ornate. The owner says it predates the house by about 150 years.

The ladies' parlor is delicate, with an ornate ceiling that mimics the French mantel from the 1700s.

"It's not uncommon to have different rooms in different styles," Cangelosi said.

The rich dining room is done in oak, and it's where Brown the bank founder kept his safe, now used by the Houghtalings as handy silver storage. A nearby study is warm and inviting as it faces St. Charles Avenue. An office across the grand parlor is filled with Empire-style antiques.

The grand staircase is a dramatic focal point. Stained glass windows have Marguerite roses built into the design, a tribute by Brown to his wife.

The second floor is just as amazing as the first. You'll find artwork dating back to the 16th Century, and a few of the nine bedrooms in the house are on that floor.

Cangelosi said a newspaper article written when the house was built said every room had an associated bathroom with it. In a little girl's room, the foot board of the bed is believed to have belonged to Marie Antoinette. Two more floors round out 22,000 square feet of space.

A swimming pool behind the mansion was added in the 1980s.

"This is a really remarkable building," said Cangelosi, smiling at the historic structure.

Not much has changed since one of the wealthiest men in the world occupied this house in the early 1900s. As you pass it on the Avenue, you may appreciate it more now that you've seen what a treasure it is inside.


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