Jerry Floyd and Bill Jacquot's Creole cottage in Faubourg Marigny is unique, for a number of reasons. It's one of the earliest examples of plastered brick-between-posts construction in the Faubourg Marigny. And it has a brick well inside.
Yes, a well.
The Houston couple bought the house in 2000 as a party/vacation home, and rumors abounded about a treasure at the bottom of the well, one of two or three in the French Quarter and Marigny, according to Jacquot. When the couple had the well drained to clean out years of tossed in coins, the contractor also pulled up the cypress boards at the bottom. No treasure was found.
New Orleans abounds in iconography: saxophonists leaning against lampposts, jester masks strewn with beads, café au lait and beignets on porce…
Groundwater seeps into the well through the cypress floorboards and bricks, with the water table rising and falling depending on rain. There was some worry about overflow during Hurricane Katrina, Floyd said, but the water didn’t come close to the top of the well, which stands about 3 feet above the floor. It goes down at least 15 feet.
The well was originally outside, in the backyard of the house. It's now inside a back room, which Jacquot and Floyd believe was added in the 1920s, based on a large fan light above the doors that appears to be Art Deco in style.
The house was built between 1810 and 1815 by carpenter Laurent Ursain Gueson, a free man of color who purchased the lot from Bernard de Marigny in 1807. Gueson moved into the house after he married Matilde Zolla on Sept. 21, 1811. A portrait of Zolla is on a mantel, a gift from a friend.
The house was originally a double shotgun. The plastered brick-between-posts construction was common for that time, and other features from the period include arch openings with fanlight transoms and dormers. According to "New Orleans Architecture: The Creole Faubourgs," few Creole cottages in the Creole suburbs retain arch openings across the façade, a French tradition that abounds in the late 18th and 19th century cottages of the Vieux Carre.
Sometime in the 20th century, renovations included a brick porch, the iron railing, louvered shutters, refaced chimney and the removal of plaster from the façade to expose the brick-between-posts. At some point, the house was made into a single shotgun home.
Still, when Floyd and Jacquot bought the home, it needed renovations.
“We’ve been through three rounds of renovations,” said Jacquot. The first round included replacing or refinishing the wood floors and redoing the kitchen, downstairs bathroom and back wall, which Jacquot remembers as about to fall down.
He theorizes that large iron hooks on either side of the room’s walls were holding the wall up. The couple kept them there for posterity after the renovation.
Round two was in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, when neighbors' trees blew down into their yard, destroying the brick walls and shed. It’s hard to tell that it is new construction, since contractor Jim Boucher, of Boucher Construction, recreated the plastered brick-between-posts construction for the shed, which is now half storage, half outdoor bar.
Boucher also did part three, a guest bathroom on the second floor, which houses two guest rooms and an attic as well.
When the duo was looking for someone to renovate their home — historic accuracy was a must — they asked their neighbors, who recommended Boucher. “The neighbor said, ‘Don’t buy a house unless Jim Boucher agrees to do the renovation,’ ” Jacquot remembers. Their relationship remains to this day, with Boucher’s wife Trish helping them decorate the home for the holidays.
When the exhibition “The Baroness de Pontalba & the Rise of Jackson Square” opens Sunday at the Louisiana State Museum's Cabildo in the Fr…
Floyd and Jacquot moved permanently to New Orleans in 2014, downsizing from a 6,000-square-foot home to what is now about 2,400 square feet. They brought most of their furnishings from Houston, with new purchases, such as paintings and prints by James Michalopoulos, adding a New Orleans touch.
Both are retired from work, but not from having parties or hosting: On Sunday (Dec. 16), the home will be part of the Patio Planters Holiday Home Tour. This group, founded in 1946, is dedicated to the preservation and beautification of New Orleans’ French Quarter. While it is a first for the group to have a home in the Marigny as part of the tour, the Planters believe it fits the group's mission.
Oh, and please don’t throw any coins down the well when you’re on the tour.
Patio Planters Holiday Home Tour 2018 & Caroling in Jackson Square
Six residences in the French Quarter (and one in Marigny) dressed for the holiday season, showcasing the variety of architectural styles in this part of New Orleans. It is a self-guided walking tour.
Time: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: $20 online; $25 day of event; free for children 12 and under.
Order online: patioplanters.net
Online ticket pick up and day of event ticket purchase: Creole Delicacies, 522 St. Ann St. (at Jackson Square) and French Quarter Gem and Lapidary, 527 St. Philip St. (Near Decatur Street).
After touring the homes, be sure to stay in the French Quarter for Caroling in Jackson Square, also organized by Patio Planters. This tradition has been going on since 1946 and is free. Candles and song sheets are provided. Caroling starts at 7 p.m., but Patio Planters recommends you get there earlier as the square fills up fast.