Holiday Home Tour 2015 | 1407 First Street

   This splendid Neoclassical Revival mansion was originally built as a double-gallery side-hall townhouse in 1867 for Virginia natives Mary Taylor Smith and Marshall J. Smith, a commission merchant who dealt in bagging and rope. In 1870, according to census records, the Smiths lived in the house with their three children, two school-aged boarders and two live-in maids. At the time, their adolescent son, Marshall Jr., studied under French-born artist Richard Clague; Marshall Jr. later became a renowned Louisiana landscape painter.
 Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, the Smiths were forced to sell the property just two years later to James Jennings McComb, a self-made millionaire who invented the arrow tie buckle, a device that revolutionized cotton baling. Determined to regain their home, the Smiths reserved the right to repurchase within 20 months, but their ownership was never restored. They stayed on as renters until 1876, when they moved to Carondelet Street. McComb maintained 1407 First St. as a rental property from his homes in England and, eventually, Dobb’s Ferry, New York. During that period, notable and prominent residents who occupied the home were attorney Ernest B. Kruttschnitt and broker Peter Labouisse. McComb finally sold the house in 1891 to Mark Spelman, a sugar refiner from New York, for $15,500.
 In 1904, lumberman John H. Hinton and his wife, Emmet White, purchased 1407 First St. as a winter getaway from their home in McComb, Miss. Possibly inspired by the imposing antebellum plantations in nearby Natchez, the Hintons transformed their traditional New Orleans townhouse into the spacious, classically-inspired mansion that stands today. Major alterations include the construction of two additional bays on the left side of the house to create a centered front entrance and a more symmetrical appearance, and the addition of a tetrastyle portico with colossal Doric columns and massive entablature. The interior gained a gracious foyer, a Prairie-style dining room, and a sweeping staircase with a landing reputedly designed to hold quartets. The library’s heavy, masculine finishes, including the hunting-themed gasolier, most likely date to this renovation as well.
 For unknown reasons, the Hintons sold the house in 1910 to Emmet’s brother John White, Jr., for just $250 more than they had originally paid for it. Once again, the house served as a rental for many years before attorney George Hitchings Terriberry purchased it in 1938. Terriberry was King of Carnival in 1940 and a major supporter of the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra, hosting a number of events and recitals at his home until his death in 1948. He bequeathed the property to his niece, Anne Devall Mays, who resided there until the 1980s. Subsequent owners renovated the house to varying degrees. In 2008, it served as the PRC’s Holiday Home Tour Patron Party house.
 The current owners acquired 1407 First St. in 2013. For many years they had lived only one block away on Philip Street and often passed the property on walks with their young sons, who loved to visit the chickens pecking around the grounds. Although they were content on Philip Street, they could not resist the opportunity when the First Street house went on the market.
 They hired TAC Studios in Atlanta to renovate the kitchen and bathrooms, and also worked with local contractors Hamilton Bros. Construction. The original ornate plasterwork in the double parlors and entrance hall (one of their favorite historic features) was carefully restored. The floors were beautifully restored by Floorcrafters, and the yard received special care from Matyas Landscaping. Today, their home is tastefully furnished with a mix of contemporary and vintage pieces, including a collection of colorful Art Deco rugs.

Photos by Sara Essex Bradley