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From Private Ownership to Public Trust 1892-1947

Introduction Colonial History 1721-1788 19th Century History 1813-1892 Private Ownership to Public Trust 1892-1947 How Madame John's Legacy Got Its Name Table Of Ownership 1721-1947
In 1892 Jean Baptiste Canepa, an Italian immigrant described in city directories as a grocer, acquired Madame John’s. Like Claiborne before him, Canepa bought properties as real estate investments and during his period of ownership, the house was formally subdivided into separate rental apartments. At the turn of the century, The French Quarter was heavily populated by Italian immigrants who were often depicted as poor and slovenly. Canepa’s achievements defy such stereotypes. In addition to his grocery business, Canepa owned more than twenty-five properties in New Orleans, including his residence at the corner of Esplanade and Bourbon, a property which he purchased in 1912 from United Sates Supreme Court Justice Edward Douglas White

grocers in the Soards city directory, 1890s
Throughout the 1890s Canepa was listed as a grocer in the Soards city directories.

The Canepa heirs sold the house in 1920 and, after being owned by William Bischof for five years, Madame John’s was sold to Mrs. Stella Hirsch Lemann. By the 1930s the architectural significance of the house had become widely recognized. Many images of Madme John’s were created by local artists in this period, among them Morris Henry Hobbs, a noted engraver and, for a time, a tenant of Madame John’s. Other artists lived in the house as well and, in lieu of rent, some of them produced images of the house for Mrs. Lemann. In 1947, in recognition of the importance of the house to the history of the state and to the people of Louisiana, Mrs. Lemann donated Madame John’s Legacy to the Louisiana State Museum.

Portrait of Mrs. Stella Hirsch Lemann (1879-1970)
Portrait of Mrs. Stella Hirsch Lemann (1879-1970)
Ella Miriam Wood, 1950
Gift of Mrs. Lemann
drawing of Madame John’s from The Scenes of Cable’s Romances, 1883
Image of Madame John’s from "The Scenes of Cable’s Romances"
L. Pennell, 1883
Reproduced from Century Magazine