Holiday Home Tour: 1312 First Street

In 1879, Mr. and Mrs. Burton White purchased the house at 1312 First St. and embarked on a renovation to enlarge the existing one-and-a-half-story residence. The home was raised, allowing for a new first floor and porches to be added, and the Italianate details for which the house is now known were added. This extensive transformation was enough for the home to earn the moniker “The White House” in honor of Mr. and Mrs. White, despite the fact that they had not been the first owners. The original home had been built by Sarah Browne, who purchased six lots on Chestnut Street, built the original, smaller structure facing Chestnut on the corner of First Street. She also moved it to its current location in 1860.

14-foot ceilings showcase coved plaster moldings and ornate archways in the large center hall.
14-foot ceilings showcase coved plaster moldings and ornate archways in the large center hall.
The parlors are each anchored by marble fireplaces — black in the men’s parlors on right, and white in the ladies’ double parlors on the left.

Today, a different Brown family resides in the home. Lynn and Scott Brown purchased 1312 First St. in 2014 and renovated the home to respect the integrity of the 1849 home while defining spaces for comfortable, contemporary living.  This was not an easy task, but Lynn and Scott’s home is a seamless combination of historic and current style, and they have made every inch usable.

Lynn and Scott frequently relax on the Carrara marble-floored porch in the evening with a glass of wine, and inevitably find themselves in a conversation with a neighbor walking a dog or a tourist wandering through the Garden District. Tour guides passing by often note the large Carrara marble slab between the street and sidewalk, which was used as a step for horse drawn carriages when they were a common mode of transportation in the neighborhood.

Beautiful Italianate details are featured on the front of this home.

Inside, dramatic 14-foot ceilings showcase coved plaster moldings and ornate archways that adorn the large center hall and double parlor. The parlors are each anchored by marble fireplaces — black in the men’s parlors on right, and white in the ladies’ double parlors on the left. The mantles on the left are particularly interesting. The faces carved into the farthest mantle depict stages of youth while those on the mantle closer to the entrance portray stages adulthood, or perhaps wisdom. Believed to be original to the home, large, gilded matching mirrors adorn each of the four fireplaces on either side of the center hall. Ornate plaster ceiling medallions grace the ceilings and two original chandeliers — likely gasolier conversions — are hung in the men’s parlors, which are now used as a formal dining room and billiard room

In the back of the house, a Nanawall glass wall system integrates indoor and outdoor living. When weather is pleasant, the Nanawalls of the pool room slide open to convert the space to a covered porch with a fireplace overlooking the pool and outdoor dining terrace. The kitchen was renovated to include state-of-the-art appliances including such specialty items as a built-in Miele Coffee System and a Wolf Convection/Steam Oven in addition to the traditional Wolf 48” gas double oven. The home was also fully automated using Control4 technology for security, lighting and audio both indoors and outside.

An indoor or outdoor space, depending on your preference.

On display throughout the home is the Brown’s fabulous collection of local art including a large abstract oil painting by Allison Stuart in the dining room, a diptych in the family room by Seanie Haik Kohnke, two pieces in the center hall by Nell Mabry and two pieces in the pool room by Holly Mabry Poole. Glass works by Mitchell Gaudet are featured in the billiard room and on the double parlor mantle. The sculpture, which is particularly dear to the Browns, symbolizes New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and presents a “bowl” at the top with a hand reaching down to save someone at the base. -Sarah Martzolf, Photos by Sara Essex Bradley

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