Nestled on the edge of the Garden District, on the intriguing wedge of land bordered by Pleasant, Toledano, Coliseum, and Prytania streets, one finds the 1424 Pleasant St. home of Cuban metalworks artist Beatriz Ball, owner and designer of Beatriz Ball Collection, and her husband Warren “Bo” Ball. Built in 1840, the property developed out of a three-arpent plantation, bounded by Toledano Street above and below by Harmony Street, sold by the heirs of Valery Delassize to Samuel Herman in 1836. Subsequently, it served as the upper boundary of Faubourg Delassize, later annexed into the City of Lafayette in 1844, only to be annexed by the City of New Orleans in 1852 and renamed the Eleventh Ward. Between 1902 and until his death in 1935, the home was owned by Orleans Parish Criminal Court Judge and later Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Joshua G. Baker and his wife Mary Monroe Vincent Baker, who was the sister of Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank A. Monroe.
Styled as a classic New Orleans center hall, the residence sits perched at an elevated sightline from street level, protected by grand, ornamental wrought iron and Japanese yew. Purchased in 1996, the Balls first turned to Michael Carbine to renovate the library, adding floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, along with a full renovation of the kitchen and addition of a porch. Carbine later enclosed the porch, making a total of four renovation projects for either the Balls or previous owners of the property. The library is a literary wonderland, with hundreds of books lining the shelves, each one consumed by Beatriz and Bo over the years. Beyond the library lies the master bedroom and bath. Opposite the library off the center hall are the formal living room and dining room, each containing gilded mirrors over ornate carved marble mantles as well as pocket doors and cast plaster ceiling medallions. Many of these features were acclaimed in a 1937 article from The Sunday Item-Tribune highlighting the “Charming Old Fashioned Home on Pleasant Street,” at the time owned by Jules Bayle, including its “white marble mantel topped by a large frame of wrought brass and flanked by a commodious mahogany lounge.”
Continuing through the dining area is a den with original bargeboard flooring and a renovated, modern kitchen and sitting area capable of handling the Balls’ many children and grandchildren. The kitchen and sitting area look out onto a serene formal garden complete with brick and flagstone decking surrounding a spa pool and manicured boxwoods. Upstairs, one finds additional bedrooms as well as a stand-alone apartment.
Throughout the home, furnishings and accoutrements collected on the Ball’s travels to Europe, Mexico and beyond accent the home while retaining its period character. The home features an incredible collection of artwork including portraiture, modern works, old master styled oils, pastels and sculpture, many of which memorialize Beatriz Ball’s Cuban heritage. Two significant works by contemporary Cuban artist Agustin Bejarano display prominently in the dining room and bar area. Additional works depicting Cuban subjects, from contemporary urban landscapes and interiors to depictions from the Port of Havana, can be found throughout the home. A portrait of Ball’s great-grandfather, Mario Garcia-Menocal (President of Cuba from 1913 to 1921), sits in the entrance foyer, along with one of the several excellent portraits of Ball. Finally, a ruby-red Hunt Slonem painting, the subject of a recent showing at Martine Chaisson Gallery, crowns the living room. While maintaining the architectural and period history of the home, the Balls have added their own stylistic touches to the residence through not only their travels, but also their cultural influences and interests. -Beau Bethune and Kathlyn Perez Bethun, Photos by Sara Essex Bradley