Creole Architecture Has Deep Roots in New Orleans

When you hear the word Creole you think of Louisiana. There are many different uses and meanings of the word – one which has many unique facets is Creole architecture.  Known for historical buildings and aesthetic cityscapes, New Orleans is a place where you can find this one-of-a-kind architecture.

Creole architecture was derived from adaptation to Louisiana’s climate.  Construction techniques were actually045 copied from the arrival of newcomers to the area in the 1700’s from many different regions of the world, mainly Spanish, German, and French.  The architecture was somewhat modified after the massive fire of 1788 in the French Quarter, and then became defined as first-generation “country Creole” and second-generation “city Creole” architecture.

If you are interested in Creole architecture, here are some distinct features to look for in a home or building when touring New Orleans.

The more unique and hard to find characteristics are those seen on houses and buildings built before the massive fire.  Colonial New Orleans followed the construction methods of their original regions.  When locating a first generation “country Creole,” look for clapboard houses that are made from timber.  The roof will be oversized called a “Norman” roof which is hipped and double-pitched.  The houses will have a large wooden gallery (old French porch) with colonnades (supportive columns) and balustrades (decorative railings) which merges the outdoors with the indoors.  The chimney is located in the middle of the roof and all of the home’s exterior openings have either French doors or shutters.

It will be easier to find the second-generation “city Creole” in the architecture throughout the Crescent City.  You will find the homes have a flat roof or tile roof and brick siding, coated with stucco, arched openings and wrought iron balconies.  The larger houses are common-wall townhouses with a porte cochere that runs into a rear courtyard.  Shotgun houses are also part of second-generation “city Creole”.   These homes are long and narrow and perpendicular to the street.

When you are in New Orleans, take a look at these historical spots:  Madame John’s Legacy at 632 Dumaine St., Ossorno House at 913 Gov. Nicholls St.,  St. Philip, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourhon St., Old Spanish Custom House on Moss St, Pitot House on Moss St.,  Lombard House in Bywater,  and the Old Ursuline Covent on Charles St.  You will find hundreds of examples in the French Quarter and many second-generation Creole townhouses along Royal St. as well.

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