30 Preservation in Print • oCtoBer 2012 www.PrCno.orG By Danielle Del Sol Photos by Danielle Del Sol and Andrea Bland CONsTRUCTED ON THE CUsP between New Orleans’ golden age of ar- chitecture and the tumultuous onslaught of the Civil War, 1216 Jackson Ave. wants for no symbol of splendor. When local developer Andrea Bland first entered the Jackson Avenue house in 2010, she was awed by the original décor and flourishes: the eight marble mantels, for example. The iron front door, with arches, Corinthian columns and flower imprints, is original. Every single door in the home, in fact — over 40 total — is original, and most even have intact hardware, including porce- lain knobs and iron keys. The details seem to never end. Wallpaper thought to be original (as un- touched plaster sits underneath) covers every surface, including ceilings. A magnificent and perfectly preserved plaster interior archway with a raking cornice and scrolled corbels in the front double parlor is framed by gold-leaf picture molding that wraps around the entire room. The 14-foot ceilings are punctuated by sprawling, flowery plaster medallions. A back room features a built-in iron stove that is stamped with the date 1859. The stove is actually one of the main clues as to the date of the construction of the home, as no documents seem to remain to authenticate the exact year. Historian William Reeves has confirmed that the three-story Italianate home was built between 1859 and 1863 for a wealthy merchant named Abraham Levi, and that another of its earliest owners, in 1864, was a 16 year-old heir- ess and orphan named Frances Gasquet, the youngest daughter in a family with substantial real estate holdings in New Orleans (including a row of town- homes, six of which stand to this day in the American Sector on Camp Street between St. Joseph and Julia streets). Reeves and architectural photographer Robert S. Brantley wonder — based on the time period of the house’s construction, its design and the architectural elements used — if the house could have been designed by Grand Garden District Restoration PRC In aCTIOn famed New Orleans architect Henry Howard. The condition when Bland first entered the house was far from pristine. Years of water entry had deteriorated a large portion of the ceiling plas- ter and filled much of the home with mold. But there was no termite damage, and the romance of the home — which at that point was still filled with furniture collected and kept, literally, over the past 100 years — captured Bland’s imagination. She began to consider how she could con- vert the home into a commercial property (a requirement needed to utilize historic tax cred- its, which would refund her rehabilitation costs up to 45 percent when combining federal and state initiatives). The result will reflect Bland’s specialty — restoring historic homes into luxury rental properties. “The home will become a duplex,” she said. “The first unit will have four bedrooms and four baths, and 3,500 square feet on the ground floor, and connect via the grand, curving stair to a 700 square-foot attic space on the third floor. The other unit, on the second floor, will feature four bedrooms and three baths — 3,000 square feet — and will be furnished,” she said. Bland may take the home back to a single-fam- ily residence once the five-year commercial use that is required for the historic tax credits is ful- filled, but she has time to decide on that, she said. Above: A look at the exterior and interior double parlor of 1216 Jackson Ave. before renovation began. It is thought that the wallpaper is original to the home’s mid-19th century construction; note also the incredible plaster archway. Opposite page: Historic photos showing interior scenes of the home’s former glory.