Thanks to the efforts of the Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Pitot House on Bayou St. John stands as one of the city’s few surviving examples of a Creole colonial plantation-style house.
Built around 1799, the Pitot House is a Creole colonial plantation-style house situated on Bayou St. John. It is named for James Pitot, the city’s first American mayor and owner of the house from 1810 to 1819.¹ The house had multiple owners over the years, including Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, who purchased it in 1904. In the 1930s, it was converted into a convent for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.²When the sisters planned to demolish the house in 1963 to make room for a new school, the Louisiana Landmarks Society successfully negotiated with them to acquire the historic building.³ Once Landmarks owned it, New Orleans hotel magnate Seymour Weiss gave the organization $10,000 to move it, and the group raised an additional $5,000 for its restoration, which was led by the architecture firm of Richard Koch and Samuel Wilson Jr.⁴The structure was dismantled, and the brick-between-posts main floor and plastered brick columns were moved intact approximately two hundred feet eastward along the bayou.⁵ The masonry ground floor could not be transported and was rebuilt at the new site.⁶ In September 1965, the project experienced a set back when Hurricane Betsy destroyed the old salvaged roof slates.⁷ Restoration efforts continued through the 1960s, and the house finally opened to the public in 1973.⁸It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971.⁹ Today, the Pitot House serves as a historic house museum, events venue, and Landmarks’ headquarters.¹⁰
1. Samuel Wilson Jr., The Pitot House on Bayou St. John (New Orleans: The Louisiana Landmarks Society, Laborde Printing Co, 1992), 21.
2. Wilson, The Pitot House on Bayou St. John, 47.
3. William R. Cullison III, The Louisiana Landmarks Society: The First Thirty Years (New Orleans: Louisiana Landmarks Society, 1980), 29-31.
5. Wilson, 50-51.
7. Wilson, 51.
8. Cullison III, 34.
9. Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation, “Pitot House,” National Register of Historic Places, September 28, 1971.
10. Louisiana Landmarks Society, “Visit.”