|Delord Sarpy House
1818 - 1957
|The Delord Sarpy house in 1957, as it was being demolished
to make way for the Mississippi River bridge.
|The quality of this photo is pretty bad, but it's a good view of the side
of the house that faced Howard Avenue, ca. 1957.
|Two more side views: left, 1957; right, 1930's.
|Although this is not an image of the Sarpy home on Howard, I thought it might
be of interest. This is the first house Delord Sarpy built, in 1765, on what
would become Annunciation Street. It eventually became a girls' school and
then home to the Erath Brewery. It was demolished in 1882.
Of all the historical treasures lost to the wrecking ball in the name of progress, the Delord
Sarpy house ranks high on my list of regrets. I regret that it's gone and I regret that I never
got to see it. The home survived until 1957, becoming the oldest building above Canal
Street. But, progress in the form of the Mississippi River bridge finally became its undoing.
The Sarpy home was built as a Creole country house in an area that would later become the
Central Business District of the city. Bienville owned this land until 1723, when it became the
property of the Jesuits. It was subdivided in the early 1800's and sold to several well-known
citizens of the time, including Bertrand Gravier and Delord Sarpy. Sarpy constructed his
home there in 1818, one of the first houses in the area. As was customary at the time, the
house was built facing the river, and the street that eventually came to run along side of the
house was appropriately named Delord Street. It was ultimately renamed Howard Avenue.
Sarpy's "country" home stood in place for 139 years, as its surroundings changed from rural
to residential to retail to warehouse district. By the time plans were underway to construct
the Mississippi River bridge in the 1950's, time and neglect had reduced the home's
grandeur considerably. Looking at the pictures of the house in its final days, it's no wonder, I
suppose, that bridge planners could overlook the important historical significance of the
tired old house.
Samuel Wilson, Jr. and the Louisiana Landmarks Society fought hard to save the Delord
Sarpy house. They presented a plan for placement of the Howard Avenue/Camp Street exit
ramp that would have saved the structure. But their pleadings were ignored.
We have no sketches of the house from its early days. But, if you can see past the house's
decline, you can measure the immense historical value of what was lost. -- Nancy