Reflecting a passion for antiquity, symmetry, and classic design embraced by the Lanata House townhomes' architect, J.B.P. de Pouilly (well-known for St. Louis cathedral), Dominique Lanata constructed a series of five townhomes in the 1200 block of Chartres Street in 1847. With their stately, pillared porches, heavy cornices shadowed by wide plain friezes, and bold simple moldings, the Lanata House townhomes are prime examples of Greek revival architecture of the mid 19th century. While today the Lanata townhomes stand in prime condition, their fate was not always so certain.
In a plot originally laid out by Sieur de Bienville (one of New Orleans' founders) in the 18th century, the entire plot was then occupied by the barracks that had been built by the French Government in 1758 as a military hospital, but adapted to barracks use when the barracks facing the Place d'Armes (Jackson Square) had to be adbandoned. In 1821, on account of the petition of sundry inhabitants, stating the uselessness of a garrision in New Orleans, and that the grounds on which these barracks stood was wanted for the improvement of the city, the barracks were ordered to be sold.
It was then, in 1821, that the land first passed into private ownership of the canny tycoon John McDonogh. Not one to miss out on a bargain as well as what could be a very lucrative real estate deal, McDonogh purchased the barracks from the city leaving the barracks intact. As the political climate changed in the 1820's, the citizenry called once again for protection of federal troops, and McDonogh rented the barracks back to the federal government at a pretty profit. McDonogh's real estate savy paid off. (read more...)