The Fascinating Architecture of New Orleans

As a city with many cultural identities, it is no surprise that the architecture in New Orleans reflects this. Buildings and structures in New Orleans take a variety of different styles, from Creole to Californian to Edwardian and Greek.

In this post I aim to give a run through of the different architectural styles, with a little explanation of why and when this style became present in this architecturally diverse city!

1) Creole Cottage
creole cottage

Creole cottages can be found in the majority of neighbourhoods in New Orleans, but predominantly in the French Quarter. They were first constructed by French colonists towards the end of the 18th century, and their style is thought to be reminiscent of other places that were in France’s colonial empire, such as the Caribbean.
Their style is fairly distinctive: steep, gabled roofs with dormer windows that allow the room to be lit, normally running parallel to the street. They are usually 1 to 4 rooms wide, with French doors, high ceilings and tall windows, with wooden floors and mantles. The style is often perceived as being quaint and romantic, somewhat like an enchanting gingerbread house. The Creole cottage was not only found in New Orleans but much of the Gulf Coast during the 19th century.

2) Shotgun House
shotgun house

Shotgun style houses were first built in New Orleans around 1830. They strongly resemble Caribbean houses from the 18th century, and are an efficient and fairly cheap type of building. The style was a popular dwelling for both working and middle class people for at least a century, and it is for this reason that this style of building can be seen so prevalently in New Orleans today. The most common form of the Shotgun house is 1 room wide and 3 to 5 rooms deep, with each room opening onto the next.The outside of the house usually has shutters and often an overhanging porch. There are other types of Shotgun houses such as “Shotgun doubles”, “Sidehall Shotguns” and “Camelback Shotguns” more of which can be read about here.

3) California Style Bungalow House

cali bungalow

This style of house was built in the early to mid-20th century in neighbourhoods such as Gentilly, Mid-City and Broadmoor. They are easily identified by their low-slung structure and are often one and a half stories high. They are typically clad in wood, have sloping roofs, with a brick or stone porch and flared columns and a gable over the main portion of the house.

4) Double Gallery House
double gallery
Double Gallery style houses can often be found in Lower Garden District, Garden District, Uptown or Esplanade Ridge. They were built in New Orleans in 1820-1850 and are fairly distinctive due to their grecian-style columns. The double gallery house is very similar to the townhouse, however it is suited less to urban areas and more residential neighbourhoods. It’s two stories tall with three openings across the front, inside is a side hall and an interior stair to the second floor.

5) Colonial/Neoclassical Revival & Edwardian

This style of building developed in New Orleans from 1870’s-1930’s. The architecture includes stylistic motifs that include classical pilasters, six over six double hung windows, egg and dart and dentil mouldings, porches supported by classical columns and doors flanked by sidelights and topped with fanlights. Neoclassical Revival buildings tend to be more ornate than Colonial Revival, with fluted columns topped by complex capitals, friezes and entablatures embellished with garlanded or patterned carvings and massive porticos. Edwardian style homes tend to be simple rectangles in plan, 1‐ to 2‐stories in height, with a front or cross gabled roof and subdued decorative elements. Colonial and Neoclassical Revival stylistic motifs can frequently be found mixed with earlier Victorian styles and sometimes with later styles, like Arts and Crafts, and on shotgun type residences.

This is just a brief insight into some of New Orleans architecture… there is definitely more to talk about! If you are interested in getting a glimpse of the best of New Orleans architecture yourself, I would recommend taking a trip to the French Quarter (for colonial style), Lafayette Square (for Art Deco) and St Charles Avenue for the most impressive southern mansions!

By Natalie Tobin


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