Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Here are two photos of the house where Morphy lived and died. His father bought this house in 1841 at an auction when Paul was only four years old. The previous owner, Martin Gordon, prominent Virgina gentleman, had run into financial difficulties and the property had to be sold by the bank. Gordon purchased the property in 1820, and it is said that Andrew Jackson was a frequent visitor here. Because of Gordon's hospitality, Andrew Jackson appointed him to a high post after he was elected President of the United States. Going back further in time, this lot of 65 X 120 feet was bought by Don Vicente Rillieux in 1795, and the present structure dates back to that year. There have been other structures on the lot before 1795 but fire destroyed them.

We all know that Paul Morphy died here in 1884 from " brain congestion. " There are theories about the true cause of death based on our modern medical knowledge. Doing the math, it seems that this house was Morphy's primary residence for forty-three years. In 1891, Morphy's brothers and sisters sold the mansion. By 1920, the former owner bequeathed the property to Tulane University who rented it out to several business establishments. In 1954, the Brennan family took over and completely renovated the interiors to turn it into their now world-famous restaurant. A fire severely damaged the property in 1975, and it was again restored to its present condition.

I did not bother taking any photos of the interiors since most of it Paul Morphy himself would not recognize. If you would like to see it anyway, here is a link to Brennan's Restaurant:


Blogger Sarah Beth said...

A nice posting for Paul's birthday.

Here are a few additions and minor corrections:

"In 1891, Morphy's brothers and sisters sold the mansion. By 1920, the former owner bequeathed the property to Tulane University who rented it out to several business establishments."

In 1891 only one sister (Malvina) and his brother (Edouard) still survived. The house was siezed and sold at auction. Judge Alonzo Morphy had paid $90,000 for the house a half century before. The house, at auction, brought $6000. At the same auction Paul's gold and silver chessmen brought $1,500 (from Walter D. Denegre) while his silver wreath and the silver salver with goblets fetched $250 and $400 respectively (both from Mr. J. Samory)

J. B. Esnard, Esq. bought the house and according to Regina Morphy, Paul's neice, "rented the house to various people. Among these, Mrs. L. Conant and her daughter. These ladies were, at that time, connected with the Christian Women's Exchange, whose headquarters were then on Bourbon Street. After Mrs. Conant's removal, the house was occupied by different people as a sort of rooming house, and the room in which Judge Morphy used to sip his early morning coffee, was occupied by an Italian cobbler and his family, and from early morning till dark, he worked at his last, scattering leather all over the place. A few years ago, Mr. W. R. Irby, capitalist and philanthropist of New-Orleans, purchased the old house in order to preserve it as one of the landmarks of the Vieux Carré of New-Orleans."
Irby, a tobacco, dairy products and banking tycoon, was a member of the Board of Administrators of Tulane University and, as such, donated the property Tulane University in 1920. Owen Brennen opened a restaurant in the building in 1954, but never bought the building. His sons, however, did buy the property from Tulane in 1984.

2:00 PM  

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