Garden District home of Blaire Fernandez & Mike Katz featured on PRC’s Holiday Home Tour

See this home during PRC’s Holiday Home Tour Patron Party presented by Brown Forman Brands on Dec. 10

Click here for tickets and more tour details.

Beneath the sprawling oaks and lush greenery that make the Garden District so distinctive lies a stately residence with a long, rich history. The story of 1520 Toledano St. begins with two prominent New Orleanians: James Pierre Freret (1800-1869), a wealthy French Creole who co-owned his family’s cotton press and served as the parish sheriff; and Hugh McCloskey (1853-1927), an Irish-born banker and president of the New Orleans Railway and Light Company, according to research conducted for the Garden District Association’s Profiles in Preservation program.

While Freret and McCloskey came from different backgrounds and lived a generation apart, both men were celebrated for their bonhomie and civic prominence, with McCloskey earning the Picayune’s annual Loving Cup in 1911 and reigning as Rex, King of Carnival, in 1913.

The parcel occupied by 1520 Toledano St. was originally part of Freret’s estate on Louisiana Avenue, which was sold to McCloskey in 1881 by Freret’s heirs. McCloskey bought the Freret property for his children. He installed his son in the older home and used the expansive grounds to build two new residences on Toledano Street for his two daughters, according to Profiles in Preservation.

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In June 1914, one of those daughters, Hughetta McCloskey Evans, received a building permit for a two-story frame-and-stucco residence for $11,077. The home was completed the following year by the Favrot & Livaudais firm. It seems fitting that McCloskey chose local architects Charles Favrot and Louis Livaudais, as Favrot was the son-in-law of James Freret, son of James Pierre Freret who originally owned the property, according to Profiles in Preservation.

The Favrot & Livaudais firm’s many notable accomplishments include the New Orleans Cotton Exchange Building, 1 Audubon Place, the Roosevelt Hotel and the Isaacs-Williams Mansion, which now houses the Milton H. Latter Memorial Library. The firm was primarily classical in their design preferences but were equally well-versed in the many revival styles popular in the early 20th century.

These design influences can be seen throughout the residence at 1520 Toledano St. The exterior boasts coupled columns on the front porch with a second-floor gallery, bracketed overhangs and half-timbered detailing suggestive of the Tudor Revival style. While the exterior mixes styles, the interior showcases the architects’ classical bent.

Today, the light-filled front parlor still boasts the original swag and garland plaster cornices and elaborately carved mantelpiece, which complement the cut-crystal chandelier in the dining room.

Photos by Liz Jurey

The McCloskey-Evans family spent seven decades in the home before the current homeowners, Blaire Fernandez and Mike Katz, bought the property. The couple fell in love with the home’s Garden District location just steps from the parade route. They also appreciated the floor plan, which is great for entertaining and hosting large family gatherings. The homeowners love that their young children can run a full circle from the front door, past the study, down a hallway to the more casual sitting room and breakfast area, then back through the dining room to the front parlor.

Fernandez and Katz were careful to preserve the original architectural details and floor plan while completing renovations to modernize the home’s functionality. They removed the knob-and-tube electrical wiring, refinished the floors, replaced the roof, and updated the bathrooms. The homeowners also added more electrical outlets throughout the house, a move that went a long way in bringing the charming older home up to date with the convenience of modern devices.

The home boasts rich, dark wood floors and tons of natural light throughout. The homeowners’ collection of antique furnishings sits alongside contemporary pieces to create a comfortable elegance throughout. Fernandez and Katz painted the study Benjamin Moore’s Street Chic, a gray that complements the original fireplace and warm wood tones of the antique tables and settee.

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A wide stairway on the northern side of the parlor features a wall of leaded glass in an Art Nouveau motif. Although unseen from the interior, two similar windows remain in a half bathroom and on the dining room’s southern wall. Both can be viewed from the home’s exterior.

Each of the four bedrooms on the second floor boasts 12-foot ceilings, large windows, and original fireplaces. The mantelpiece in the primary bedroom features an elaborate ornamentation in the Greco-Roman style. A second-floor sunroom overlooks the back gardens below. The attic space on the third floor was converted to create two additional bedrooms.
The home’s more casual living areas occupy the rear of the house and include a sitting room with a gorgeous mantel carved of ebony marble, which juxtaposes with the homeowners’ playful contemporary art. The sunny kitchen has silvery sage walls and cabinets that complement the butcher block island.

Photos by Liz Jurey

The home also boasts a wet bar with a gilded silver ceiling. The rear sunroom with its wall of windows and French doors overlooks a gallery and large private gardens. Fruit trees, hollies, magnolias, cypress and sweet olives line the perimeter of the garden and create privacy for the saltwater pool and long lawn where Frederic Remington’s “The Rattlesnake” stands in bronze.

The large deep lot exists thanks to Hughetta McCloskey Evans, who enlarged the grounds by purchasing additional land from her father after the home was built. According to a Garden District Association profile, Times-Picayune columnist Ronnie Virgets wrote about the birth of the Blue Raiders in that very yard. The Blue Raiders were an independent high school football team during the Great Depression. Evans’ son Hugh, who in 1932 was a Tulane law school freshman, coached the neighborhood team, which became celebrated in the Garden District neighborhood.

Aside from the Depression-era football team, the property also hosted the American Red Cross Society’s local chapter of the Ladies Auxiliary during World War I, and countless holiday gatherings for the current homeowners’ family and friends.

 

See this home during PRC’s Holiday Home Tour Patron Party presented by Brown Forman Brands on Dec. 10
Learn more & buy your tickets today!

 

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