Bywater tour

Traditional homes such as this one are the norm on the Bywater home tour, but visitors may be surprised by the contemporary, renovated interiors.

If Faubourg Saint John was the place to be last weekend for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, then Bywater and Faubourg Marigny are the “must visit” neighborhoods on May 19, when both neighborhood associations host their annual home tours.

The organizers say the coincidence was not intentional, but it does afford the public an unusual opportunity to compare and contrast two of the most popular neighborhoods downriver of Canal Street.

According to John Guarnieri, who organized the Bywater tour, the selection of seven houses offered for admission is highly eclectic.

“The biggest is the house that Pres Kabacoff and Sallie Ann Glassman share,” he said. “It’s on Pauline and the interior is fascinating — lots of eastern fabrics and interesting statues that reflect their spiritual lives. There’s a wonderful rooftop deck that offers a view of Bywater from above “

Guests can buy tickets at 3919 Chartres St., a complex of industrial style buildings that was on the tour a few years ago. It’s across the street from the bridge to Crescent Park where there’s plenty of free parking, Guarnieri said.

Down the block from this complex is a parcel with three houses on it, one on Pauline Street and two on Royal Street. The developer retained the historic exteriors but made the interiors highly contemporary.

“The developer of these properties decided to make them into three condos,” Guarnieri said. “These won’t be furnished, but people will be able to see all of the interesting architectural ideas the developer came up with.”

Two more houses round out the selection. One is on Alvar Street, an Italianate side hall with a camel back. The other, also on Alvar a block closer to St. Claude, is an Italianate double.

“For the most part, people seem eager to maintain the exteriors in a way that works with the neighborhood’s history, and because we’re in (a Historic District Landmarks Commission) district, they sort of have to. So it’s inside the houses where there’s a lot of nontraditional design,” Guarnieri said. “It’s great to see the variety of ways in which people renovate these houses.”

Guarnieri said he loves living in Bywater because it’s a terrific mashup of lifestyles, architectural styles and culture.

“We have blue-collar workers, lawyers, artists and musicians — the residents run the gamut. And that’s what we like about it so much: Its appeal lies in the neighbors. They are what make this a great place to live.”


WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m. May 19

WHERE: Headquarters at 3919 Chartres St.