The beautiful Davis-Seebold residence located on the highly visible corner of Prytania and Second Streets is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home was designed by famed architect William A. Freret and built in 1859 for the cost of $20,000 for Edward Davis, a wealthy American Commission merchant. Mr. Davis only lived in the house for approximately one year before moving out at the start of the Civil War. The home was originally built as a Greek Revival townhouse and attained its notable Queen Anne Victorian appearance in the 1890s, when the hexagonal addition and turret were added.
It wasn’t until 1944 that the house began its trajectory toward becoming the home of the Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association. Dr. Herman DeBacchelle Seebold and his wife Nettie Kinney Seebold bought the house for just $12,500. Dr. and Mrs. Seebold were art collectors, both inheriting this sensibility from their parents. A 1983 article from the Vivant section of the Times-Picayune describes the cultural legacy of the Seebold family, stating that Dr. Seebold’s parents, W.E. Seebold and Lisette Boehm Seebold, were wed shortly after he returned from fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War and opened an art and framing shop on Canal Street soon after. The newspaper article describes them as “A couple of distinctive style and taste.” Their children, Dr. Seebold and his two sisters, inherited their parents’ love of the arts. Sister Stella Seebold McPherson ran the art shop after her father’s death and sister Marie married distinguished artist Andres Molinary and painted many of the works displayed throughout the home today. Many of the furnishings and fixtures throughout the home were salvaged by the Seebold family from the Hamilton Palace in Larnarkshire, Scotland before it was demolished in 1927, including the ceiling fixture in the solarium. Also in the solarium is a picture of Hamilton Palace before its demolition.
In 1965, Nettie Kinney Seebold, who had no heirs, willed the home and all its contents, including Dr. Seebold’s family heirlooms, to the Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association, of which she was a devoted member. Since then, the group has served as stewards of the building, holding their meetings there, opening the home for guided tours and hosting weddings. A photograph of Mrs. Seebold was found in the attic during the many vital repairs made to the roof following Tropical Storm Isaac in 2012. The original photograph was highly damaged but a reproduction is visible from the solarium looking into the double parlor above the piano. The Women’s Guild feels that Mrs. Seebold is watching over them and would have been gratified to know that the house is being used for such happy occasions.
Photos by Sara Essex Bradley