Now a state museum, this is the only example in the French Quarter of West Indies architecture and early Creole-colonial home design. The large, dark rooms of the main living space occupy the second story, and a porch (called a gallery) runs along the front and back of the house, providing ventilation during the steamy summers and protection from both sun and rain. The current building was constructed in 1789, following the 1788 fire that destroyed much of the Quarter.
The house has a colorful past. The first owner, Jean Pascal, a French sea captain, was killed by Natchez Indians. The name "Madame John's Legacy" was adopted in the late 1800s from a short story by New Orleans writer George Washington Cable. The popular tale was about Madame John, a "free woman of color" who, like many mulatto women at that time, became the mistress of a Frenchman. Having never married, the Frenchman, John (Jean), bequeathed his house and estate to her on his deathbed.