See this and other Garden District landscapes filled with custom-designed, larger-than-life art installations during PRC’s Holiday Home Tour presented by McEnery Residential on Dec. 11-12.
The Circa-1898 home at 1225 Third St. was originally the carriage house for the property at 2512 Chestnut St. When built, the carriage house fronted Chestnut Street. Sometime in the 1970s, the house was sold, moved, rotated and relocated to its present position facing Third Street.
The house was built by Capt. Thomas J. Woodward, who served as postmaster for the City of New Orleans and was Rex, King of Carnival, in 1900.
Over its more than 120 years, the home has been altered and remodeled many times. The most recent renovation was done from 2011 to 2014 by the previous owners, architect Ronn Babin and Peter Jolet, both partners with WDG Architects Engineers.
“The interior has maintained most of its original character and layout with the exception of a wall being removed between the kitchen and dining room,” Babin and Jolet wrote in an email about the home’s interior and exterior renovations. “The house had substantial termite damage to the rear wall when discovered in 2011. It was decided for the remodel that the rear wall would be torn down, the house extended 10 feet, and the rear facade become more modern and updated. The wall was replaced with large aluminum and glass windows overlooking the pool, a three-story glass elevator (which was a design focal point) and coffered ceilings in the living room were added. The goal of the remodel was to keep as many historical elements as possible but at the same time, bringing the house current.”
The front of the home sits back more than 90 feet from the street, providing a lush space where Babin and Jolet designed a secluded-feeling front garden.
With the deep front yard, “it was imperative to provide a secure entrance, while maintaining a ‘secret garden’ environment,” they wrote in the email. “A seven-foot-tall brick fence was constructed around the entire perimeter of the property. As you enter through the iron gate, it was important to create a vista to signify ‘entrance.’ The flag-shaped lot created a challenge, drawing in visitors to the front door. To accommodate this, a new brick sidewalk was placed centered with the front porch and door. This created a front lawn, in which three Luis Colmenares tree sculptures were placed as a focal point. Serene areas were created by adding water features in the front and rear: a fountain near the front porch and waterfall at the pool area.”
A native of Mississippi who has been living in the San Francisco Bay area for many years, Beverly Dale purchased the home from Babin and Jolet three years ago, praising the former owners for their incredible attention to detail on the house and garden renovation.
While she still divides her time, jetting from Mississippi to California and to her Texas ranch and back to New Orleans, Dale’s friend and “partner in crime”, Patrick Welsh, a native of Jackson, Miss., lives in the home and serves as her interior designer.
“Growing up coming to New Orleans from Mississippi, I was always in love with the Garden District around St. Charles Avenue,” Welsh said. “The oak trees, grand homes, the intricate iron work always seemed magical. When Bev wanted to find a place in New Orleans (she was coming from California, and I was coming from Colorado) this was one of the few neighborhoods I suggested.”
Asked his favorite space in the house, Welsh said: “The porches: sitting on the porch or balcony and taking in the views of ivy clad brick walls, beautiful landscaping, and the fountain noises fill me with a serene happiness.”
Photo by Charles E. Leche
Sarah Nelson jokes that she didn’t sleep in the three months leading up to the 2021 Carnival season.
Instead, she spent her time for shut-eye creating six different house floats — with “a lot of help as well,” she said — as part of what became known as “Yardi Gras.”
The proliferation of fancifully decorated houses across the city helped provide work for local artists when the continuing COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of traditional Carnival parades.
Primarily a painter, Nelson has long been involved with Krewe du Vieux and built sculptures for its French Quarter parade. The house floats gave her a chance to create art that was fun and light, she said. “I got super into it,” Nelson added. “I think one of the most interesting things about making this art is you really have to gain a lot of engineering skills, and you also have to figure out how not to disturb the house.
“Working with these historic homes and thinking about an installation was a huge challenge,” she added. “Tape is not going to stick in weather; you don’t want to screw anything (in); you don’t want to mess up the façade. I found zip-ties are incredible.”
The house floats, among them a floral display on St. Charles Avenue and a take on the Wizard of Oz on Exposition Boulevard, also made her appreciate the city and preserving its historic architecture. “It’s the most unique city in the entire world. You don’t live in a cul-de-sac and go to Applebee’s,” she said.
Nelson grew up on Martha’s Vineyard. “I’ve been doing art since I was a little kid, have always been fascinated by the natural world and loved drawing and painting,” she said, adding that she still exhibits work in some of the island’s galleries.
Nelson worked for sculptor Steve Lohman in his Martha’s Vineyard studio when she was in high school and came south to work as an artist’s assistant in Lohman’s New Orleans studio, after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and printmaking from the University of New Hampshire in 2012.
Nelson’s own acrylic and oil paintings depict the abstract and emotive qualities of the sky and how the visual quality of atmosphere works in conjuncture with her imagery, according to her website, www.sarahnelson.com. Her work is inspired “by the natural world, but how light hits the natural world,” she said, adding that she tries to “capture a moment that was beautiful.”
The resulting colorful landscapes, oyster paintings and wood pieces can be found nationwide in galleries, private residences and public collections, including the Louisiana State University Hospital.
Her work has been accepted into juried exhibitions that include the Louisiana Contemporary at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Louisiana State Museum’s Art Melt in Baton Rouge. Since 2014, she has participated in the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s Contemporary Crafts tent.
For the PRC’s Art & Garden Holiday Home Tour, Nelson will draw inspiration from the Kew Gardens in London. Working with the existing metal sculptures in homeowner Beverly Dale’s yard on Third Street, Nelson will create large bouquets of oversized, waterproof peonies, magnolias and wildflowers. She also plans to include floral topiaries and lily pads as part of the installation.
Asked about how they are made, she said “it’s actually my secret.”
The PRC’s 46th annual Holiday Home Tour presented by McEnery Residential is back with a fresh new format for this year!
VIDEO SERIES and
ART & GARDEN TOUR