The David Olivier Plantation
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St. Mary's Orphan Asylum
David Olivier was born in Lyon, France in 1759.  By the early 1800's, he'd made his way to
America and, also, made his fortune.  In 1820, he set about building a lavish home located on the
Mississippi River in what is now known as the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans.  Olivier
(French spelling,
O'livier) owned the home until 1833, when it was sold to Etienne Carraby.
By the time of the Civil War, it belonged to Albert Piernas.  Shortly after the war, Piernas sold it
to the Sisters of the Order of the Holy Cross, to be used as a boys' orphanage, known as St.
Mary's Orphan Asylum.  It remained in use for this purpose into the early 1930's.
Originally, the house formed the center of an extensive plantation complex which included
kitchen, stables and pigeonniers.  The outbuildings were demolished when it became an
orphanage and a large dormitory wing was added.
The Olivier house was one of the finer examples of early 19th century plantation homes that
had developed out of the earlier French plantation houses.  It stood for 129 years, the last
several of which were not kind to the historic dwelling.  By the time the wrecking ball arrived in
1949, the old home had been abandoned and allowed to deteriorate badly.
We have no images of the home in its early days, only sad pictures of it a short time before it
was destroyed.  But, if you concentrate - and if you're blessed with a little imagination - you
might be able to form an image of the grand old home as it was.  An image through the eyes of
David Olivier.  Or the children of St. Mary's.  -- Nancy
Left, the main entrance; above,
one of the interior mantels.
Above, a side view of the house; below, view of the rear of the house; then, a close-up
of the front.  Like most homes on the Mississippi, the front of the house faced the river.
Nothing about the vacant lot that currently occupies the 4100 block
of Chartres Street indicates the history of the location.