Heart of Louisiana: Longue Vue House and Gardens

Updated: Apr. 2, 2019 at 8:38 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It’s the perfect time to visit one of the many grand gardens of Louisiana, one of which was created by an heiress of the Sears Roebuck Company.

These formal gardens led to a new house being built on this property by Edgar and Edith Stern in the 1940s. The idea was to take full advantage of the home’s connection to this classic 7-acre landscape.

“Most of this garden is our perennials, and the bones are here and they stay here all year long,” said horticulturalist Amy Graham.

Graham oversees Longue Vue’s gardens.

“There’s always something different blooming,” Graham said. “Right now, the Louisiana irises are blooming, the camellias are blooming in the winter and they’re just now finishing up. So there’s always something wonderful blooming here.”

And steps away from the formal garden is a Louisiana landscape with a vegetable garden, native trees and flowering plants.

Those plants specifically serve wildlife, where ornamental non-native plants are not serving your wildlife," Graham said. “So you want to have caterpillars on your plants. You want to have insects, because the insects are providing food for the birds and working in this perfect chain that feeds all the wildlife.”

The Longue Vue mansion, in the style of a European country home, overlooks the manicured shrubs and fountains of the formal garden.

“They did quite a bit of traveling through Europe, and that’s kind of where they got some of the ideas for the gardens,” said Interim Direct Ann Koppel. “The wallpaper is, you know, a painted wallpaper similar to what they had seen in their travels, and it actually depicts a French town that they had visited. It was the first house in New Orleans with air-conditioning, and they tried that out. I think it’s worked out pretty well in New Orleans. People seem to really love it.”

Edith Stern inherited much of her fortune from her father, Julius Rosenwald.

“He was a very well-known businessman in Chicago,” Koppel said. “He was the leader of Sears and Roebuck, which was the biggest retailer in the early 1900s. I mean, they sold everything, kind of like the way Amazon is now.”

Edith inherited something else from her father – a sense of doing things to help improve the community.

“They were very instrumental in founding Dillard University,” Koppel said. “They helped found the Flint Goodrich Hospital, which was one of the first hospitals for African Americans in New Orleans.”

This historic home also has exhibits of artists who benefited from the Julius Rosenwald fund.

“They always believed that there was always sort of that intrinsic ability of anyone to learn and sort of not only help themselves but because they’ve done that, they then go out and help the next generation and the next generation and sort of the idea of paying forward,” said Curator Lenora Costa.

After her husband’s death, Edith Stern began opening her gardens to the public. Eventually, the family home became a gift to the community.

“It’s very peaceful to come in for a visit, but it also represents this really transformative legacy of making your community a better place,” Koppel said.

Longue Vue is beauty with a purpose that shows not only a grand lifestyle, but also the importance of sharing that wealth in a way that uplifts humanity.

Julius Rosenwald may be best know for his push to bring schools to African-American children in the rural South. he helped fund thousands of Rosenwald schools, including several hundred in louisiana

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