History of the House

Marsoudet-Dodwell House blt. 1846
1519 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans

“When Mrs. Eliza Ducros Marsoudet, in 1846, entered into contract with builders Nicholas Duru and Jacques Michel St. Martin, she was acting in a separate capacity from her marital community, although it is stated that her husband assisted her. Originally the house stood in the center of ninety-five-foot Esplanade frontage; it measured fifty-four by sixty feet deep.” In its 1977 New Orleans Architectural Series, the Friends of the Cabildo noted that this formerly elegant 1846 center-hall American cottage stood alone among commercial uses and vacant lots.  So it remains today. Interestingly Mrs. Marsoudet was building her fine home in the same year that St. Anna’s was being founded as “St. Peter’s Seaman’s Bethel Mission” at #5 Esplanade under the direction of The Rev. Whithall.

New Orleans Architectural Series: Esplanade Ridge, 1977 gives a detailed inventory of what appointments the house enjoyed; essentially one can conclude that this was an elegant home.
According to this book, by 1977, while perhaps in need of some repair and maintenance, most of the interior was still intact, including five marble fireplace mantels, two foliated plaster rosettes, a bronze whale oil chandelier and moldings. It also notes a few additions including Corinthian columns in the main hall and at least four structures.

After that writing successive owners allowed the property to lapse into disrepair. Many of the original fine appointments were sold off so that by 2007 floors were missing, bricks degrading, and the property was filled with volumes of refuse and debris. Of note, during this period the main house was used for the closing scenes of Interview with A Vampire, a 1994 classic film. Some of the set pieces were retained in the property.

In 2015 the House was designated as a New Orleans 9 property, meaning it was/is in dire need of substantial repair and is at risk. The designation, given by the The Louisiana Society for Historic Preservation, was given while recognizing that the goals of St. Anna’s Church are consistent with historic preservation but that her resources to do so are limited. The home, according to the Historic Districts and Landmarks Commission (HDLC), is one of the most important buildings in the city prized for its architectural value.

(The above information was obtained from: New Orleans Architecture Volume V: The Esplanade Ridge (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 1977), 83. By Christovich, Evans and Toledano.