A Good Garden District Walk

As New Orleans expanded upriver from Canal Street in the 19th century, wealthy newcomers built their majestic homes in the Garden District. Today the area is home to politicians, fifth-generation New Orleanians, and celebrities. A walk through the Garden District, just a 20-minute streetcar ride from the French Quarter, provides a unique look at life in New Orleans, past and present.

Start at the Rink, a small shopping complex at the Washington Avenue and Prytania Street intersection, a block from the streetcar stop. Walk east on Prytania (the main artery of the district) to the corner of Fourth Street to see Colonel Short's Villa (1448 Fourth St.), known for its ornate cornstalk fence and supposedly built for his wife, who was homesick for Kentucky. Toward Third Street, the Briggs-Staub House (2605 Prytania St.) is one of the few Gothic Revival houses in the city. No expense was spared in building the Lonsdale House (2521 Prytania St.) across the street, which was a Catholic chapel for more than 70 years. The Maddox House (2507 Prytania St.) next door is an example of the five-bay Greek Revival expansion. Across Prytania at the corner of Second is the Women's Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association House (2504 Prytania St.), with its distinctive octagonal turret; it's now a catering hall for weddings and social events. At First and Prytania streets are the regal Bradish-Johnson House (2343 Prytania St.), now a private girls' school, and the relatively modest raised Toby-Westfeldt House (2340 Prytania St.), an example of a Creole colonial home.

Turn right and walk down First Street. Built in 1869, Morris House (1331 First St.), on the corner of Coliseum, and Carroll House (1315 First St.) next door (where Toys in the Attic was filmed), are decorated with "iron lace," exemplifying the era's romantic Italianate style. Across Chestnut Street, Brevard House (1239 First St.), also known as Rosegate for the ornate cast-iron gate that extends the length of the block, used to be the home of author Anne Rice. A block farther on the right is the Payne House (1134 First St.), where Confederate president Jefferson Davis died.

Walk back up First Street toward Coliseum, which takes you past some of the most beautiful and historic homes in the South. The Italianate Mansion at 2425 Coliseum Street is the home of actor John Goodman. Across the street from each other at Coliseum and Third streets are the white-columned Robinson House (1413 Third St.), thought to be the first house in New Orleans with indoor plumbing, and the intricate iron-balconied Musson House (1415 Third St.) built by Edgar Degas's uncle. The white-columned Nolan House, at 2707 Coliseum, is where Benjamin Button was raised in the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Next door, one of New Orleans's most famous restaurants, Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave.), is a great stop for lunch. Across Washington Avenue is the white-walled Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, arguably the most beautiful cemetery in the city.

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