18 Best Sights in Garden District, New Orleans

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

Garden District Fodor's choice
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
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New Orleans found itself amid a large influx of Italian, German, Irish, and American immigrants from the North when this magnolia-shaded cemetery opened in 1833. Many who fought or played a role in the Civil War have plots here, indicated by plaques and headstones that detail the site of their death. Several tombs also reflect the toll taken by the yellow fever epidemic, which affected mostly children and newcomers to New Orleans; 2,000 yellow fever victims were buried here in 1852. Movies such as Interview with the Vampire and Double Jeopardy have used this walled cemetery for its eerie beauty. Save Our Cemeteries, a nonprofit, offers hour-long, volunteer-led tours daily at 7:00 am. All proceeds benefit the organization's cemetery restoration and advocacy efforts.

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Brevard House

Garden District

Though Anne Rice moved out of her elegant Garden District home in 2004, the famous novelist's fans still flock to see the house that inspired the Mayfair Manor in her series Lives of the Mayfair Witches. The house is a three-bay Greek Revival, extended over a luxurious, lemon tree–lined side yard and surrounded by a fence of cast-iron rosettes that earned the estate its historical name, Rosegate.

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Briggs-Staub House

Garden District

The only Gothic Revival house in the district was built in 1849. Garden District Americans shunned the Gothic Revival style, deeming it a little too close to Creole-Catholic tradition, but Londoner Charles Briggs ignored decorum and had James Gallier Sr. design this anomaly, touted as a "Gothic cottage." The interior departs from a strict Gothic layout to make it better suited for entertaining. A miniature replica of the structure stands next door; it once housed Briggs's servants, who were reputedly free men of color.

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Buckner Mansion

Garden District

This 1856 home was built by cotton king Henry S. Buckner in overt competition with the famous Stanton Hall in Natchez, built by Buckner's former partner. Among the luxurious details are its 48 fluted cypress columns and a rare honeysuckle-design cast-iron fence. Now privately owned, the house served as the campus of Soulé College from 1923 to 1975 and appeared in American Horror Story.

Christ Church Cathedral

Garden District

The present-day English Gothic church, completed in 1887, has pitched gables, an architectural detail that prefigured the New Orleans Victorian style. Its congregation was actually established in 1805, however, making it the first non–Roman Catholic church in the Louisiana Purchase territory.

2919 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA, 70115, USA
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Services weekdays at 12:15, Sat. at 9:30, and Sun. at 7:30, 10, and 6

Coliseum Square Park

Garden District

Established in the mid-19th century, this lush green space is the centerpiece of the lower Garden District. With cycling and walking trails as well as a beautiful fountain, the wedge-shape park is a great spot to stop and relax after a walk through the neighborhood. Although the area bordered by Race and Melpomene streets can be bustling with activity during the day, it's best not to wander around alone at night.

1700 Coliseum St., New Orleans, LA, 70130, USA

Colonel Short's Villa

Garden District

Built in 1859, this house's stylistic influence was due to the two-story galleries of its dining room wing, which had railings made of cast iron. The fence features a pattern of morning glories and cornstalks and is the most famous work of cast iron in the Garden District. Colonel Robert Short, a cotton merchant from Kentucky, purchased the fence for his wife, who was homesick for her native Iowa. The house was occupied by Union governor Michael Hahn and by governor Nathaniel Banks during the Civil War, but after the war ended, it was returned to Colonel Short.

Derby Pottery

Garden District

Fragments of wrought ironwork and other architectural details form the inspiration for many of Mark Derby's beautiful pottery pieces, from mugs and vases to handmade Victorian reproduction tiles. His clocks and plaques, fashioned from reproductions of New Orleans's historic art deco water-meter covers, have earned cult popularity, and his reproductions of letter tiles found on Crescent City street corners can be spotted all over town.

Eiffel Society

Garden District

Thirty years ago, engineers in Paris discovered hairline fractures in the Eiffel Tower supports. To lighten the load, they removed the restaurant on the second platform. New Orleans auto dealer McDonald Stephens bought that restaurant, which was disassembled into 11,062 pieces for shipping. Stephens hired New Orleans architect Steven Bingler to build a "jewel box" out of the pieces for his four beloved daughters. Bingler's vision, assembled on St. Charles Avenue in 1986, incorporated scattered pieces from the original restaurant into a structure meant to resemble the Eiffel Tower. The building has gone through many incarnations; today it is a lounge and event space.

Goodrich-Stanley House

Garden District

This restored Creole cottage was a modest prototype for much of the far more elaborate architecture of the surrounding Garden District. The scale, derived from the climate-conscious design prevalent in the West Indies, made this style easily adaptable to the higher pretensions of the Greek Revival look, as well as the slightly more reserved Colonial Revival. Built in 1837, the house has had one famous occupant: Henry Morton Stanley, renowned explorer of Africa and founder of the Congo Free States who most famously uttered the phrase "Dr. Livingstone, I presume" upon encountering the long-lost Scottish missionary.

House of Broel's Victorian Mansion and Dollhouse Museum

Garden District

This restored antebellum home was built in two periods: its present-day second floor was actually constructed first, in 1850, and in 1884 the house was elevated and a new first floor added. The extensive dollhouse collection includes 60 historically accurate, scale-model miniatures of Victorian, Tudor, and plantation-style houses and covers more than 3,000 square feet on the mansion's second floor. All were created by owner Bonnie Broel over a 15-year period. Visitors can only view the property on tours, which can fill up, so it's best to call ahead.

2220 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA, 70130, USA
504-522–2220
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Tour $15, Weekdays 11–3

Lonsdale House

Garden District

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 sack and made a fortune, only to lose it all in the 1837 depression. Lonsdale turned to coffee importing, and in order to stretch his supply, he thought to cut the coffee grounds with chicory, a bitter root—and New Orleanians have been drinking the blend ever since. This house includes intricate cast-iron work and a carved marble entrance hall. The statue of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in the front yard is a remnant of the house's more than 70 years as an active Catholic chapel.

2521–2523 Prytania St., New Orleans, LA, 70130, USA

Musson House

Garden District

This Italianate house was built by impressionist Edgar Degas's maternal uncle, Michel Musson—a rare Creole inhabitant of the predominantly American Garden District. Musson had moved to his Esplanade Street residence before Degas visited New Orleans, so it's unlikely the artist ever stayed at this address. A subsequent owner added the famous "lace" iron galleries.

Robinson House

Garden District

Built in 1859 and styled after an Italian villa, this home is one of the largest in the district. Doric and Corinthian columns support its rounded galleries. It is believed to be the first house in New Orleans with "waterworks," as indoor plumbing was called then.

The Rink

Garden District

This collection of shops was once the location of the South's first roller-skating rink. Locals browse the Garden District Book Shop, which stocks regional and antiquarian books, along with an assortment of autographed first editions by regional writers. Another favorite is Judy at the Rink, an upscale gifts and housewares boutique.

2727 Prytania St., New Orleans, LA, 70130, USA

Toby-Westfeldt House

Garden District

Dating to the 1830s, this Greek Revival cottage sits amid a plantationlike garden, surrounded by a copy of the original white-picket fence. Businessman Thomas Toby moved to New Orleans and had the house raised aboveground to protect it from flooding.

Van Benthuysen-Elms Mansion

Garden District

Built in 1869, this stately Italianate mansion served as the German consulate in the early 20th century, until the start of World War II. The house has been meticulously maintained and furnished with period pieces, and is now mainly a venue for private receptions and special events. Highlights include a carved-oak staircase and mantelpiece and 24-karat gilt moldings and sconces.

Women's Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association House

Garden District

This Greek Revival house, built in 1865, has an octagonal turret added in the late 19th century. The last private owner, Nettie Seebold, willed the estate to the Women's Guild in 1965. It's still furnished today with 18th- and 19th-century European and American pieces. Tours are available Monday through Wednesday, given on an ad hoc basis with no advance reservations required. In addition, walking tour companies will schedule a visit here as part of their tours.