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A Culinary Cottage IT HAS BEEN CALLED “THE EPITOME OF WHAT A CREOLE COTTAGE CAN BE.” The almost 200-year-old home at 1515 Pauger St., located on a vibrant block of the Faubourg Marigny, and its builder, a free woman of color named Rosette Rochon, have for years captured the imagination of history buffs. Today the house is under renovation, part of an effort by new owner the National Food and Beverage Foundation (previously the SoFAB Institute, the parent organization of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum) to revive what is known as the Rosette Rochon House. The home was built in the early 19th century for Rochon. She was born into slav- ery and mixed-race Creole ancestry in Mobile, Alabama, in 1766, and was freed by her white father in 1770. She settled in New Orleans as an adult, finding a welcome home amongst free people of color who lived in New Orleans’ newly formed Creole suburbs outside of the French Quarter, including Faubourg Marigny and Tremé. According to Lester Sullivan, an archivist at Xavier University, Rochon became one of the earliest investors in the Faubourg Marigny, buying the plot of land upon which 1515 Pauger now sits directly from Bernard deMarigny himself in 1805. Rochon owned much more than that one lot, and subsequent home at 1515 Pauger St. She bought and sold mortgages, owned rental property, made loans, owned and rented out slaves, and owned grocery stores, establishing what is likely the first chain of grocery stores in New Orleans. When she died in 1860 at the age of 100, she left behind an estate valued at over $100,000 — which today would be well over $1 million. Her Creole cottage at 1515 Pauger would not have advertised her wealth, however. The four-room house with back cabinet lacked flourishes; plaster ceilings in the front two rooms to denoted that they were for entertaining, but the fireplaces in those rooms still had simple wood mantles. Interior designer Don G. Richmond acquired the house in 1977; by that point, the home had been split into four tiny apartments and was blighted. Yet Richmond was enthralled by the historic house and the amazing legacy of 14  PRESERVATION IN PRINT • www.prcno.org 34  PRESERVATION IN PRINT • www.prcno.org Ms. Rochon. He dedicated 40 years of his life to the home’s restoration and its transformation into a museum dedicated to the history of free people of color. Tulane School of Architecture professor Dr. Eugene Cizek helped Richmond in the effort; his preservation students documented the home with Historic American Building Survey drawings in 1999 and won an honorable mention from the Charles E. Peterson Prize for the work. Mr. Richmond passed away in 2014 and left the home to the National Food and Beverage Foundation. Director Liz Williams said that while Rich- mond’s goal had been to operate a museum at the site, zoning won’t allow that use. Instead, the Foundation will restore the home and use it to house visiting scholars and chefs, host meetings and more. Williams and her team will find a way to curate the space so that “it tells the story of Don Richmond saving the house, the story of Rosette Rochon, and the stories of other women of color and their role in shaping the cuisine of New Orleans,” she said. Architect Jonathan Tate is overseeing the renovation along with contrac- tor Edifice Builders LLC. The home will be modernized with an HVAC system and the addition of a small kitchen and bathroom where the cabinet would have originally been, but arresting original elements remain. The home’s brick-between-post construction is visible on many interior walls, and original plaster with layers of aged paint still hangs on the walls in sev- eral rooms. Underneath the home is a large hole that was originally used for cooling things underground, such as wine, Williams said. While the hole is still there, her team had to cover it for safety’s sake. A dependency in the back is being renovated into a single bedroom apart- ment that will be occupied by a tenant who will keep an eye on the property, Williams said. Keep an eye on Preservation in Print for updates as this exciting project nears completion. –Danielle Del Sol, Photo by Liz Jurey JUNE 2016 DECEMBER 2015