Leslie Perrin 525-3216 Cell: 722-5820 24 APRIL 2001 PRESERVATION IN PRINT From free black businessmen to Paul Tulane A monument to diversity: 400 block of Canal Street I nthe 1840s twenty-three buildings covered the entire square bounded by Canal, Common, Magazine, and Tchoupitoulas streets. Today fourteen remain. Of those fourteen, the African- American clothing merchant/tailors Colvis and Dumas erected three and sub- sequently purchased two more. These five buildings represent black achievement even during slavery days. In 1840 when the City of New Orleans suddenly decided to auction off all twenty-three vacant lots in the square, Julien Colvis and Joseph Dumas stepped up and purchased three of the lots. They were doing what all successful business- men of the time did—investing in real estate. 45% of the African-American pop- ulation in the city was free at this time, and they owned a substantial amount of property. Colvis and Dumas had apparently gone into business together as merchant tailors about 1835. Colvis had married Mathilde Bermoudy in 1829, and they had four children-Joseph (who married Marguerite Dumas, the daughter of his partner), Marguerite (who married Jacques Jonquil), Jeanne Amelie (who married Auguste Coutanceau) and Mathilde (who married Pierre Eloie Sicord). After his wife's death in 1842, Colvis married Marie Elisa Allain, who died in 1846. To sort out the various interests, the two partners, Colvis and Dumas, divided their holdings, each receiving about ten important properties around the city. With the approach of the Civil War, Colvis and his family fled to France along with many white Creoles. Joseph Dumas' son Francis, however, joined the Union forces, the Second Regiment of Volunteers. After the Civil War he remained in New Orleans where he par- ticipated in the battle for equal rights dur- ing Reconstruction. In 1868 he ran for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket but lost. Among the lots at the foot of Canal Street that Colvis and Dumas purchased was lot 17 (105 Tchoupitoulas Street). Here they erected the building, using the services of architects Sidle and Stewart. This lot passed to Colvis in the partners' partition of 1846 and then to one of his children after his death in Paris in 1863. Each of his children inherited $33,000. In 1854 this building was the wholesale grocery firm of Speake and McCreary. Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the renowned explorer, came to New Orleans from Liverpool in 1854 as an orphan named John Rowlands and worked in this store. McCreary's acquaintance Henry Hope Stanley adopted the young boy and gave him his name. Twenty years later G. W. The 400 block of Canal Street, then and now. Much of the block of buildings in the 1866 drawing by Marie Adrien Persac remains intact under the aluminum screen added in the 1960s, including the original bays, pillars, lintels, brick and granite. Dunbar's Sons, packers of semitropical products and manufacturers of French cordials and fruit syrups, operated from the building. Dunbar's company, founded in 1865, employed 150 hands by 1895. It canned about 60,000 tins a day of shrimp, oysters, green turtle, preserved figs, orange preserves, figs in cordial, and okra. Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the renowned explorer, came to New Orleans from Liverpool in 1854 as an orphan and worked in the store at 105 Tchoupitoulas. Julien Colvis and Joseph Dumas also purchased lot 21 (427-9 Common Street) and on March 3, 1840 signed a building contract with Sidle and Stewart for a 4- story brick storehouse. In the partition of 1846 this building went to Joseph Dumas. After the Civil War Dudley & Nelson operated a wholesale grocery from the by William D. Reeves, Ph.D., contract historian Developers have targeted the Sanlin buildings in the 400 block of Canal Street again. In 1995 Councilman Oliver Thomas saved this distinguished row of 1840s commer- cial buildings hidden under the modern aluminum screen. Recently, Mike Motwani, doing business as Jayshree LLC, bought much of the site. 1:1 The Team Who Serves New Orleans Real Estate Needs Multi-Million Dollar Producers who know the Commercial and Residential Markets "Exceptional service is given to all of our clients. Let us bring you the results you deserve." Prudent'al 41 PRESERVATION RESOURCE CENTER ,,e HISTORIC HOUSE SPECIALIST w. GARDNER REALTORS 891-6400 L. Bryan Francher 891-9087 Pager: 365-9850 El L_P El