Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection
The research center stands at 410 Chartres Street in the French Quarter, not far from the museum’s headquarters at 533 Royal Street. Built in 1915 in the Beaux Arts style, the two-story brick structure is the work of Edgar A. Christy, architect, and builder James A. Petty; it was erected to house the Second City Criminal Court and the Third District Police Station. The Chartres Street building, purchased by the State of Louisiana in 1957, had been vacant for many years when The Collection bought the property in 1993.
The history of the land goes back to ownership by the Marigny de Mandeville family and, through the years, by other well-known Louisiana families—Delachaise, Forstall, Macarty, Destrehan, and Perrilliat. The present lot, once part of a larger property extending to the corner of Chartres and Conti Streets, was part of the succession of Celeste Robin de Longy, widow of Jean Noel Destrehan, in 1825. A long, low structure—described as a maison à étage—with a separate kitchen at the back of the property was demolished before the construction of the present-day building.
After an extensive restoration, the Chartres Street building opened as the Williams Research Center in January 1996. The research center houses The Collection’s public reading room for researchers as well as offices for curatorial, library, and manuscripts personnel and collection storage and processing areas.