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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Filigree: 1937

Filigree: 1937

New Orleans, 1937. "Le Pretre Mansion, 716 Dauphine Street, built 1835-6. Joseph Saba house." Another look at the so-called Sultan's Palace, last seen here. 8x10 inch acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.

 

Yes and N.O.

Still looking great for a 174-year-old structure. Man, I love New Orleans. For all of its warts, the city draws me back, time and time again.

Restrained Architecture

Without the cast iron, the house would appear as it was built - a subdued but
grand chunk of Greek Revival. Notice that the stucco has been scored to
resemble ashlar blocks. The cast iron was added later... probably in the
1850's when New Orleans was obsessed with the trend. The entablature
is missing above the capitals along the length of the ground-level ironwork,
and appears to be still missing today.

I ain't afraid of no ghost

The gents on the banquette don't seem to mind if the house is haunted. They look very relaxed.

Still there, etc.

Covered in the previous post (scroll down to the comments).

Harem Scarem

The original source of the bizarre ghost stories and "legends" attached to the Le Pretre Mansion appears to be a nutty little book written in 1922 for the tourist trade by Helen Pitkin Schertz, "Legends of Louisiana," published by the New Orleans Journal. A photo of the mansion in this book is captioned "The House of Tragic Mystery," accompanying Schertz's story "The Brother of the Sultan."

Although the house was built and added to by two owners in the 1830s, Schertz dated her almost unreadable story to 1792. Unreadble? You decide. Here's an excerpt from a typical paragraph:

Thus it came about that in the grandiose mansion where Christian piety was domiciled, whence conventional young women issued for daily Mass at the Cathedral three squares away in direct view, little shrines were removed and benitiers that had purified thoughts for holy themes. A steamboat bore the always expectant, always happy sons and daughters to the plantation with their horde of slaves, the most zealous care of the daughters being the preservation from sunburn of their creamy skins. What had been the horror—or, perhaps, the interest,—of these convent-bred damsels to learn that into their chaste quarters, converted into a haremlik, were borne palpitating bundles, which, unrolled, revealed lovely, veiled children younger than themselves: Nefysseh of Alexandria ; Mihrima of Stamboul; Sitta of Aboukir; Djumeila of the Nile and, fairest among them, Butheita the daughter of the Bedouins, raped from the desert for a Caliph's beguilement.

Stripped down archicture

If you take off the wrought iron latticework, you would have a very plain looking building. No detailing around any of the windows, no cornicework. It would pass as some other warehouse down by the river. The owners must have blown the project budget on all the iron scrollwork.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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