For a man of the world, Peter Patout has adopted a modest lifestyle. He rents out half his 1887 Italian-style double shotgun on Bourbon Street and has tenants living in the two-story “back house” that dates to 1824.

That leaves just four rooms on one side of the double for Patout: a home office, bedroom, living/dining room and kitchen. Yet every space is replete with antiques, art, leather-bound books and busts of Greek or Roman deities.

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Ready for service, a silver tray holds spirits to take the edge off the end of the day.  

Tomorrow, guests at Friends of the Cabildo tour will have an opportunity to see Patout’s digs — including the atmospheric courtyard between the front and back houses — when the nonprofit stages its annual home and courtyard tour from 2 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available at the 1850 House Museum Store (523 St. Ann St., (504) 524-9118) on the day of the tour. (friendsofthecabildo.org)

"My great aunt Effie, who knew everything about our family history, lived on Bayou Teche not far from Jeanerette, where I was born. I could sit cross-legged on the floor in front of her for hours as she told stories about the family and she would correct me if I mispronounced a name,” he said.

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In Patout's patio, lush plants and a brick floor create a tropical hideaway.  

Patout said his fascination with family history developed into an appreciation of antiques that led to his first career, as a Royal Street antiques dealer. A passion for historic houses developed from his antiques business, and so after he closed his shop, he began a new career as a realtor with Talbot Historic Properties, specializing in selling grand homes in Natchez, Jeanerette, New Iberia and elsewhere in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“Luckily for me, a lot of my antiques clients owned exceptional homes and when they were ready to sell them, they contacted me,” Patout said.

The front room of his home is the office where Patout and an assistant work doggedly at developing 40-page books on every listing he has. The books include images, maps, house research and biographies of the families who lived there.

“I take the trouble to make the books because a buyer wants to know what they’re buying,” he said. “Plus, I am a bit of a nerd.”

Patout’s curiosity about his own genealogy has led him to acquire books on Louisiana portraits and Bayou St. John, to name just two. He has been aided in his research by a book about the Fortier family compiled in 1960 by several family members. All of his knowledge about his own genealogy eventually led Patout to acquire portraits of two ancestors who were important in his lineage.

“One of them is by Salazar (Jose Francisco Xavier Salazar y Mendoza), but guests won’t see it Sunday because it’s at the Ogden in a show of his work. He was known for painting prominent New Orleans families in the Spanish colonial era,” Patout said. “But there’s another for them to see.”

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A portrait of Patout's ancestor, Félicité Emma Aime, was painted by Jacques Amans in 1838 when Félicité was just 15.

Félicité Emma Aime gazes down at the living room from above the mantel. She looks poised, serene. Her white gown is simple and her hands are folded in her lap. She has a sweetness about her consistent with being a girl rather than a woman, for the portrait was painted by Jacques Amans in 1838 when Félicité was just 15.

“She was my great great great grandmother,” said Patout. “And that last name is pronounced EM – that’s what my great aunt Effie used to drill in to me. She remembered that when Félicité would visit Bayou Teche, some of the children feared her because of her regal bearing. She didn’t stay at Aunt Effie’s house but at Uncle Rivers’ instead because she found his to be so much nicer.”

If Félicité Aime was a bit of a snob, she may have had reason to be. For anyone familiar with St. James Parish in the 19th century would have known that she was one of four daughters of Valcour Aime, whose home was so lavish that it became known as “Le Petit Versailles.” Being raised there must have been an extraordinary experience, for Félicité grew up on the finest plantation in south Louisiana and wanted for nothing. When she married Septime Fortier in 1846, her father built Felicity Plantation and gave it to the young couple as a wedding gift, just as he had built St. Joseph Plantation and given it to Félicité’s sister, Josephine, when she married Alexis Ferry II. The family landholdings even extended to Oak Alley Plantation, which was built by Valcour Aime’s brother in law, Jacques Roman.

"I never stop being amazed at how a single family portrait can speak volumes about family history,” Patout said.

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French Quarter Home and Courtyard Tour

WHEN: 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 20 

TICKETS: $25

WHERE: Purchase online at friendsofthecabildo.org or at 523 St. Ann St. on day of tour.