Visit this and 6 other stunning homes in New Orleans’ historic Garden District and Lower Garden District at the Holiday Home Tour on Dec. 8 and 9.
1525 Camp Place • Susannah Coolidge and Fred Diegel
For Susannah Coolidge and Fred Diegel, location truly is everything. They fell in love with their American side-hall house on shaded Camp Place. Facing the finger park above Coliseum Square, the location offered proximity to Magazine Street and walkability to St Charles Avenue and the French Quarter for Carnival festivities.
The house at 1525 Camp Place is the sister property to 1521 Camp. Both were built in the 1850s as rental houses by German master builder Christian Lindauer and owned by the Lindauer family until 1892. The two houses remained together until they were sold separately in the 1920s.
As the neighborhood became less fashionable, 1525 was broken up into two units and subsequently four, and the property was altered to make it more accommodating to apartment living. The house had a myriad of tenants, including “The Hot Dog King” Joe Loyacano, co-founder of Lucky Dog, who lived there in 1949 before building a mid-century ranch-style house facing Coliseum Square in 1952.
In 1995, then owner Michael A. Weidmer restored 1525 Camp Place after purchasing the property from JRF, an entity of the Preservation Resource Center. During its years as an apartment building, the house had suffered an insensitive remodeling of the front façade, which Weidmer restored using salvaged materials from a nearby demolition. The oak-leaf cast-iron railing — a favorite feature of the current owners — was one of the few original details on the façade to survive.
Much of the interior detailing also was lost in the apartment conversion; only the floors, stairs and banister are original to the house. During the restoration, every effort was made to save what was left. That commitment is demonstrated by a seam on the mahogany newel post. The original newel post had been sawed off to make space for a wall separating apartments. To restore it, a post was turned to match, split and married to the remaining piece.
Salvaged materials also were used wherever possible, but the story of this 160-year-old house is told in the floors. Wear patterns, marks and scarring from walls constructed to divide the apartments can be seen throughout.
Previous owners left a box filled with objects that was discovered when digging out the old privy in the back of the property. Among the items were glass bottles, an inkwell and a pair of eyeglasses. Coolidge and Diegel now display the objects on the sill above the kitchen sink. The couple theorizes that the glasses may have belonged to Arthur Andrew Allison, a tenant who went missing from the house in 1941 and was described in a newspaper article as wearing the same type of glasses before his disappearance.
Other noteworthy pieces in the home include a tapestry hanging over the living room fireplace. It was purchased at auction and had previously hung in Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré. Coolidge and Diegel also purchased much of their furniture at auction. They look for American pieces to go with the American side-hall style of their home.
For the living and dining rooms, interior designer Hal Williamson designed custom shades to let in light while providing privacy in a style appropriate to the age of the house. The hallway features art by family members, including a portrait of Coolidge as a child painted by her uncle, Jack Coolidge, as well as a sketch of her grandmother by her grandfather, artist John T. Coolidge.
When the house was renovated, the previous owner placed a fountain off center in the garden so that it was on axis with the hallway and could be seen when entering the front door. The rear garden has a courtyard-like feel with brick pavers and an outbuilding constructed using salvaged materials during the renovation.
Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 8 & 9 in the Garden District and Lower Garden District
Advance sale tickets: $30 for PRC members, $45 for non-members. $50 on day of tour.