Louisiana Landmarks Society Saves the Pitot House from Demolition

Dec 1, 1963

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.

4. Ibid.

5. Wilson, 50-51.

6. Ibid.

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.” 

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