Madame John's Legacy at 632 Dumaine Street in the historic French Quarter is one of the finest 18th century building complexes in Louisiana. Of special interest because it escaped the great fire of 1795, which leveled much of New Orleans, the house is actually a product of the preceding fire of 1788. The structures on the site in the early 1780's were destroyed by the conflagration and Madame John's was erected on the burnt-out lot in 1789.
Madame John's is an excellent example of Louisiana Creole residential design at the end of the 18th century. Because of its fine architectural character, it has been designated as an official National Historic Landmark. The architectural complex at Madame John's actually consists of three buildings: The main house, the kitchen with cook's quarters and the two-story garconniere.
The buildings are separated by an ell-shaped courtyard, with the main house fronting directly on Dumaine Street. The courtyard of today was originally a work space where household chores such as laundry were done. The lot next door, now a tall brick house, was originally a formal parterre (with divided flower beds) garden in the French manner and was also a part of the Madame John's complex.
The main house at Madame John's is a two-story structure with the high, double-pitched roof with small dormers associated with Louisiana's 18th century colonial homes. The ground floor is a solid masonry basement, built of soft brick, stuccoed on the exterior street surface. It served as foundation for the living quarters on the main or second floor and also as a store house and work area for the household.
Today there are very few houses like Madame John's Legacy in the French Quarter; yet at one time many such dwellings filled the older parts of town. The style could be found in the French West Indies, the Illinois Country and Canada.
This is the kind of home that prospering colonists built after progressing from their first rude cabin dwellings. The homes provided refuge and sanctuary for the New Orleanians: up off the ground it was safe from frequent flooding and had broad galleries that protected it from sun and rain. Thick walls and shuttered windows created a snug and private atmosphere, while inside one found an air of amplitude and spaciousness.
632 Dumaine St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
Tuesday - Sunday 10 am - 4:30 pm.
Closed Monday and state holidays.