During the mid-1800s, when New Orleans was one of the largest cities in the United States and its major southern port, the city was enjoying an architectural boom. Among the most prominent architects of this glorious era were the Galliers – James and James, Jr. – father and son.
Between the two of them they designed some of New Orleans’ most famous and recognizable landmarks, a number of which still stand today, including the Greek Revival-style Gallier Hall on St. Charles Avenue, which served as New Orleans’ City Hall for a century. James Gallier Sr. also helped design the Pontalba Apartments on Jackson Square and the Leeds Building which today houses the Preservation Resource Center. James Gallier, Jr. designed the French Opera House that was the center of culture for the city from 1859 until it burned in 1919.
In 1857, at the height of their fame and prestige, the Galliers designed a home of their own in the 1100 block of Royal Street. It still stands today and Gallier House is one of the true architectural gems of the French Quarter.
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The exterior of the house features a balcony that looks out over Royal Street. Four wrought-iron arches extend from the balcony to the roof, offering some of the finest examples of ornate iron latticework for which the French Quarter is world-renowned. Four windows face each of the arches with shutters that are typical of the period in which the house was built, and the windows open high enough to allow access to the balcony. Wooden French doors on street level open into the house itself.
Also on the outside of the house is a carriageway that was typical for the period. In the rear of the structure is a restored slave quarter apartment and a detailed garden, all of which are visible on the guided tour of the house.
The beautifully restored home features opulent double parlors with exquisite Victorian furnishings throughout. Gallier family portraits grace the walls of the house’s many rooms.
The restored interior bathroom boasts hot and cold running water from the Galliers’ 1857 design; a rare luxury for that time. In keeping with the Galliers’ typical designs, the house is filled with ornate cornices and intricate millwork. Another example of the Galliers’ ingenuity is the kitchen inside the home; most kitchens of this era were located outside the house.
Gallier House participates in “Summer Dress” each season when the weather starts getting hot. A 19th century Creole custom, Summer Dress requires covering heavy upholstery with white linen slipcovers, removing draperies and replacing them with linen shades, and replacing wool rugs with straw mats. These details help keep the house cool during the warm summer months.
During the Christmas holiday season traditional 19th century Creole decorations are set up throughout the house.