In 1914, Carrie Smith Payne built the Arts and Crafts-style double shotgun at 2350-2352 Camp St. on property she inherited from her father, Marshall J. Smith. Neighborhood legend has it that she built this house, and the nearly identical structure at 2346-2348 Camp Street, as sister homes for her daughters, Alice Marshall Payne Jennings and Mary Taylor Payne Freret. Indeed, the houses shared identical shotgun-style floorplans for most of their histories. The sisters sold 2350-2352 Camp St. in 1951, and it was lovingly maintained by the Bruder and Truesdell families until it was purchased by Tim Armstrong and Mark Hensgens in 2014.
The couple was casually shopping for a bigger place when the Camp Street home came on the market. In addition to its size, they were impressed that the home had been so well kept by the Truesdells and their handyman, Charles White, who worked with the family for more than 50 years. Location is also key; Armstrong and Hensgens love this particular block of the Garden District for its close-knit neighborhood feel.
Armstrong and Hensgens’ top priority in renovating their home was updating it in a way that did not eliminate the original character. Armstrong chose a clean, classic palate as a starting point. When the task of selecting furnishings became too overwhelming, the couple turned to decorator Shaun Smith, who conjured an atmosphere of understated elegance. They also credit their contractor, Jeff Hamilton, with helping to preserve some of the historic features of the home, including the original hardwood floors, fireplace tiles, transoms, and gas lantern stubs. The result is a seamless blend of old and new New Orleans.
Today, the home is still a double, with one side serving as guest quarters for visiting friends and family. The Truesdells added an extension to both sides of the back of the house, which Armstrong and Hensgens converted to a master suite upstairs, and a family room downstairs. A beautiful coffered ceiling in the family room disguises the fact that the room was once divided. The family room opens up to a French Quarter-style courtyard, perfect for entertaining. In addition, Armstrong and Hensgens are currently adding a doorway on the second floor to connect to the other side of the double, making it easier for guests and the couple to access the other side.
A particular challenge of renovating a shotgun-style home was finding furnishings suitable for small or irregular spaces. The pieces selected for this home’s interesting spaces are some of its most talked-about features. The cabinet in the stairway room was a built-in in another home and was salvaged from a dumpster. Above the stairs, a large painting of Saints Crispin and Crispinian fills the space between the hallway and the window. In the powder room, a lavabo solves the need for a sink in a narrow space.
Of course, no New Orleans renovation story is complete without a few surprises. Armstong’s favorite hidden treasure is an old shoe wedged in the track of the pocket door on the guest side. “No one could explain how or when it got stuck there,” he said. A more practical surprise is the exposed brick fireplace in the kitchen, which was hidden behind paneling.
While the renovation process was challenging, Armstrong and Hensgens are pleased with the results. “We are comfortable and happy here, and we have great neighbors,” Hensgens said.
See this home and six other stunning Garden District homes at the PRC’s Holiday Home Tour on Dec. 9 & 10.
Online ticket sales end at 5 p.m. on Thursday Dec. 7 – Click here to purchase your tickets today!
Photo Gallery (click images to expand)
Photos by Sarah Essex Bradley