When Jessica Knox and her new husband, Alonzo, were planning a move to New Orleans from Washington, D.C., in 2003, Knox started researching the city to decide exactly where she and her spouse wanted to live.
“The more I looked into the Mardi Gras Indian culture and the more I learned about the historic architecture of the city, it became clear that the place to be was Tremé,” she said. “There were a lot of problems in the neighborhood back then, but now it’s a place that’s attracting not just artists and musicians but families.”
Knox plans to show off her neighborhood Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the Historic Faubourg Tremé Association hosts its second annual home tour, with headquarters at St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, at 1313 Esplanade Ave. Six Tremé residents will open their doors to offer guests the opportunity to get the flavor of the community and its historic architecture.
“We want people who attend to come away with the understanding that Tremé is a great place to live,” Knox said. “It’s in the middle of everything and has just so much culture and history. Free people of color bought homes in the neighborhood very early in the city’s history.”
The neighborhood association’s website (faubourgtreme.org) provides a tantalizing description of each house on the tour.
Several date to the mid-1800s, including the Chabert property (1850s) and Meunier property (a Creole cottage, 1848), both on Henriette Delille Street, and the Miotin House (a side-gallery Creole cottage, 1846-1847) on Barracks.
An impressive two-story, double galleried townhouse on Esplanade Avenue dates to the 1860s and combines expressive elements of both Greek Revival and Italianate styles.
A Marais Street home, built in 1889 and known as the Thibodeaux house, is a sidehall shotgun house exhibiting Eastlake detailing.
“The sixth house will surprise everyone,” Knox said. “It was built in 2014, but looks exactly like a Creole cottage from the early 19th century. It’s the perfect example of how new construction can fit into a historic neighborhood.”
As tourgoers walk the neighborhood later today, Knox wants them to note the many renovations in progress.
“When we moved here 12 years ago, there were many blighted houses, many houses boarded up,” she said. “You see a lot less of that now with the renovations taking place, and you see a lot more kids riding bikes and mothers pushing baby carriages.”
With music being one of the neighborhood’s biggest cultural legacies, Knox says that guests will be treated to a veritable feast of sounds and musical traditions as they move from one house to the next.
“We’re showcasing different live music at every house,” she said. “Some is Latin, some gospel, but we also have classical music and jazz. They represent the diversity of what Tremé has to offer.”