Lonsdale House Review
As a 16-year-old immigrant working in the New Orleans shipyards, Henry Lonsdale noticed how many damaged goods were arriving from upriver. Spotting a need for more-protective shipping materials, he developed the burlap bag (clued in by his parents, who had picked up a sample in India). He made a fortune in burlap, only to lose it all in the 1837 depression. Lonsdale next turned to coffee importing, an industry that ran into problems during the Civil War: the Union blocked imports from Brazil, the major supplier of coffee to New Orleans. Lonsdale hit upon the momentous idea of cutting the limited coffee grinds with chicory, a bitter root, and New Orleanians have been drinking the blend ever since. The house, built with his entrepreneurial dollars, displays many fine details, including intricate cast-iron work on the galleries and a marble entrance hall. The statue of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in the ornate gazebo in the front yard is a remnant of the house's more than 70 years as an active Catholic chapel, which ended with its controversial sale to novelist Anne Rice in 1996. Actor Nicholas Cage purchased the home in 2005 and put it up for sale in 2009 after facing foreclosure on the property, as well as on the LaLaurie mansion he owned in the French Quarter.
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