Friday, June 22, 2007


Paul Morphy was born in this house on June 22, 1837. It is located on the north side of Chartres Street, just West of Barracks Street. In today's French Quarter, that means it is on the quiet side of town, southeast, a few blocks from the river. This house was built by Morphy's grandfather. You're looking towards the east from this angle.

Obviously, this is the facade of the house. Notice that it is not at street level. The white plaque on the railing declares that the Confederate General Beauregard once lived here beginning 1866. That's after the American civil war.

This is the plaque on the wall you see from the last photo. If you can't read it, here it is: Le-Carpentier Beauregard House, Erected 1826,By Joseph Le Carpentier Auctioneer, ( Grandfather of Paul Morphy World's Chess Champion ), Francois Correjolles Architect, James Lambert Builder, Sold in 1833 to John A. Merle, who built the adjacent garden, which existed until 1865 and was restored in 1954 by the Keyes Foundation, Residence of General P.G.T. Beauregard C.S.A. 1866 - 1868.

Here's a view of the house, looking west. By the way, if you want to see the interior, there are scheduled tours. However, at this time, all tours are off, or unpredictable, due to post-Katrina problems. Most of the French Quarter did not go under water during Katrina due to its high elevation, higher than the area around it. However, much of the French Quarter's labor force have lost their housing ( they live outside the quarter ) and as a result businesses and services in this area have suffered. For my next post, I will show you the house where Paul Morphy lived and died.

Photos copyrighted 2007 A. Teodoro


Blogger Sarah Beth said...

Some more dtail to your fine posting.

Around 1839, John A. Merle (Consul of Switzerland) and his wife, Anais Philippon had already purchased the lot beside the Le Carpentier house from the architect, François Correjolles, and constructed a formal garden there.

While rented the house between 1866-1868, it was actually an 18 month period during which time he was unemployed and looking for work. Once he snagged a job - as president of the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad - he moved out.

The later history is quite fascinating -

The house was purchased in 1909 by the Giacona family. This family was headed by Corrado Giacona, but the house was in Pietro Giacona's name. The family ostensibly posed as wine importers when in fact they were running a wholesale (tax-free) liquor business out of the house on Chartres Street. They were making plenty of money and enjoying a lavish lifestyle. But one evening in 1909 their neighbors reported to the police that they had heard the sounds of an argument and, soon after, the sounds of gunshots. The police investigated and found the results of a killing spree. The story goes that a group, referred to as the Sicilian Black Hand, had been making threats to the Giacona family members, possibly stemming from a territorial dispute. Pietro Giacona had invited them to his house for a dinner party obstensibly to settle the dispute. The Black Hand wanted money for previous infringements and for further protection. Pietro balked at paying this extortion. Rather than capitulate, the Giacona's struck first, killing three and severely wounding the fourth guest. Corrado and Pietro were both arrested and indicted for murder but the charges were dropped (on May 10, 1920). After that incident, though the Giacona family turned the house into a virtual fortress, the Italian community felt more secure. It's said that many wanted to present Corrado and Pietro with medals in appreciation. Although they abandoned the house in the early 1920's, Corrado Giacona remained a powerful force in New Orleans crime until his death in 1944. After his death the power passed first to the Carollo family and then to Carlos Marcello who many feel was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

In July 1925, the house was purchased at public auction (apparently, the Giacona's didn't bother paying the taxes after abandoning the house) by a man named Antonio Mannino who listed his occupation as "importer" ["importer" was a common mafia occupation title]. While nothing turned up in a search for this particular Antonio Mannino, what did show up was: In 1985 Ignazio Antonio Mannino, commonly known as 'Tony' and his brother, Emanuele Salvatore Mannino, commonly known as 'Sal' were brought to trial as mafia racketeers involved in heroine smuggling.
Antonio Mannino, in a newspaper article on July 16, 1925 threatened to tear down the historic mansion and build a warehouse or a macaroni factory on the lot unless local preservationist could come up with the money necessary to save the house. His plan failed and the house was saved from destruction without paying the extortion money.

Frances Parkinson Keyes moved into the Le Carpentier house in 1944 and obtained ownership in 1952. She must have seen only it's potential because the house itself had deteriorated severely. Mrs. Keyes contracted with architectural firm of Koch & Wilson to restore the house which was to be her winter residence for the next 25 years. When she first moved in, the space now occupied by the Beauregard Keyes House’s corner garden was being used as a factory - it had once been the Pelican Steam Factory which manufactured shirts and later it would be the site of a candy factory. In order to gain ownership of the corner lot, Keyes traded some property she owned in Faubourg Marigny with the factory owners. The Vieux Carré Commission gave Keyes permission to demolish the corner factory buildings, which had been judged to be of little historic or architectural merit. The old New Orleans bricks that had been used in construction of the factories were recycled to rebuild the garden wall. Her studio at the back of the large courtyard remains intact. Keyes wrote 40 novels in this studio, all in longhand, among which are "Dinner at Antoine's," "Madame Castel's Lodger" and "The Chess Players."

2:15 PM  
Blogger Ted Teodoro said...

Fantastic information, Sarah! Thanks for posting. I've heard of the killings of three men in the house, but i decided not to include the story. Anyway, I regret not taking a photo of the garden as it looks now. It was just a matter of sticking my camera through some iron bars. Maybe next time...

2:33 PM  
Blogger Sarah Beth said...

While it's not a common or well-shared story (one of the docent's at the house with whom I've spoken never heard of it), because of the killings in the Le Carpentier house, it's apparently believed by some that the house is haunted and that ghosts can be seen from time to time. Some, but not all, "ghost tours" include the Le Carpentier house as one of their scheduled stops.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Ted Teodoro said...

Well, yeah, ghost tours include the house in their late night wanderings. I have walked past several groups late at night, just before midnight or later, and I could tell that it was a ghost tour. In the couple of times I have taken vacations in the French Quarter, I have always walked slower around the house in hopes of getting a glimpse of something I can't explain. If I did get to see something, then my quandary would be, ghost or my unbridled consumption of the stuff on Bourbon Street?

8:15 AM  

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