Built in 1850 as a double for Joseph Fernandez of Cadiz, Spain, who owned a coffeehouse in the French Quarter, this distinguished galleried manor house with Greek Revival elements on the corner of Jackson Avenue and Coliseum Street was paid for with Spanish currency. By 1857, the residence had changed hands many times and was eventually purchased at auction by Rufus A. Upton, an attorney from Massachusetts. The home stayed in the Upton family for 89 years until it was purchased in 1939 by the Barr family. In 2001, Dr. Patrick Drennan and Dr. Michael Higgins purchased the home. They beautifully redesigned and extensively renovated it before opening it for the 31st Annual Holiday Home Tour in 2006.
âIn 2013, Cynthia and Rich Ashman purchased the home in order to downsize, leaving their house on First Street (1407 First St. â also on this yearâs Holiday Home Tour) and also divesting a beach house after their three children left home. When 1302 Jackson Ave. became available, Mrs. Ashman was drawn to the house because, she said, it was like a brilliant combination of a beach house and a cottage in the heart of New Orleans.
âThe Ashmans decorated their home with a mix of furniture from their First Street house and their beach house, giving it an eclectic feeling that channels the ambience of a vacation home. The shells and coral that are sprinkled throughout the house were collected over the past 25 years cruising the Florida Keys, Bahamas and West Indies. Most of the artwork throughout the home was painted by friends and family, including the Ashman children and Mrs. Ashmanâs mother. Equine-themed artwork can be seen throughout the home, a thoughtful homage to Mrs. Ashmanâs favorite pastime.
âThe downstairs serves as a âhangoutâ for their children when they come to visit. With a mini kitchen and a comfortable den, the three Ashman siblings can have friends over and watch Saints games without disturbing their parents. The hallway wall features pictures of their sonâs modeling career in Japan. Above the sofa sits a painting that reminds the family of how close-knit New Orleans can be. The Ashmans purchased the painting at the St. Georgeâs Episcopal School auction years ago but did not know until their neighbor, Michael Johnson, visited their First Street home (to attend the 2008 Holiday Home Tour Patron Party) that the painting was by Johnsonâs father.
âThe only renovation the Ashmans undertook was remodeling a bathroom on the first floor. An avid DIY-er, Mr. Ashman did all of the work himself, adding a shower, retiling throughout and transforming the room into a functional and beautiful space.
Photos by Sara Essex Bradley