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1539 Religious Street
Recognized as One of New Orleans’
Most Significant Properties
Le Citron
1539 Religious Street

On August 10, 2004, the Board of Directors of New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) unanimously voted to designate a double Creole cottage located at 1539 Religious Street as a recognized historic property. In her designation report in support of the building’s 1999 nomination. HDLC Senior Architectural Historian Eleanor Burke spoke in favor of the designation, stating “ ... the building’s construction type, style and mortise and tenon joints in the roof structure, indicates that the construction date of 1539 Religiou! s Street could lie between the years 1810 -1813. If this is the case, 1539 Religious Street is the oldest known structure in New Orleans above Canal Street.”

Due to a series of fires that decimated most early French Quarter structures, 1539 Religious Street would also predate many existing French Quarter properties.
The building, known as the Thomain-Baird house, is located in a portion of the Lower Garden District once known as Faubourg de la Course.

The building is currently owned by Warehouse Café Properties (WCP), LLC, which is responsible for its painstaking restoration. Restaurateur David Baird, president of WCP, in partnership with entrepreneur Wayne Gusman, recently opened Le Citron Bistro, a dining, entertainment and special events venue at the site.

The HDLC Board of Directors commended Baird for the integrity and attention to detail he showed in restoring the property, stating…“You have maintained the natural gifts of this building.” On October 6, 2004 Baird was presented the HDLC Architectural Award for Landmark Restorations.

Throughout its history 1539 Religious Street has been used for commercial and residential purposes. At the interior, three original door casings remain, which reflects the original floor plan. The ceiling features its original beaded joists with wide ceiling boards.

In her report Ms. Burke states that this building is of particular interest because the area in which it is located retains very few cohesive streetscapes and no buildings dating from prior to 1830 have survived in the uptown area.

In recent years the neighborhood has seen explosive growth due to wide- spread revitalization and development efforts which include Phase IV of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, developer Joseph Cannizarro’s planned development on Tchoupitoulas Street, RiverCity casino, the Wal-Mart Supercenter, The Saulet Apartments, the newly-proposed RiverPark and Amphitheater, and the River Garden community (formerly the St. Thomas Public Housing Development).

NEWSBEAT, New Orleans Magazine
November 2004


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Le Citron Courtyard Mural
Le Citron Courtyard Mural

 

 

Joseph Gusman Portrait
Portrait of Joseph Gusman
in the Family Room

Creole Family Geneolgy Room
The purpose of the “Family Room” is to tell a personal pictorial history of the Creole family in Louisiana history with particular focus on the 18 th century. However, early 19 th century items will also be considered for display.

We want to recreate the feeling you get when you relax in your own family room with familiar faces that conjure up fond memories, smiles, or questions from young ones. As you point to a picture, you might describe to a curious observer “that’s Papaw, or “sis” or some other family nickname.

It is our hope that this venue will inspire descendents of the Creole culture to take a greater interest in their roots and facilitate their ability to trace their family history.

Definition
Creoles, shortened from “Creoles of Color” are generally known as a people of mixed French, African, Spanish, and Native American ancestry, most of whom reside in or have familial ties to Louisiana. Research has shown many other ethnicities have contributed to this culture including, but not limited to, German, Irish, and Italian.

Prior to the Civil War, Creoles of Color were known as free people of color, or les gens de couleur libre. This is the name given to them by the French and they are documented in Louisiana history as early as the 1700’s,. Our focus on the 18 th century parallels this origin as well as the architectural history of the Le Citron Bistro location at 1539 Religious St. However, early 19 th century items will also be considered for display.

Contents
The contents of the family room will include copies of pictures of Creole family members/individuals; books and publications written about the history of Creole culture, and copies of documents of interest that reflect accomplishments and contributions to society by Creoles.

We are not at liberty to display originals at this time for liability reasons and items become the property of Le Citron Bistro for display purposes. While reproduction costs are borne by the donator of the display, Le Citron Bistro reserves the right to display high quality copies which may result in some donations being respectfully declined. Le Citron Bistro also reserves the right to determine where, when and how to place items on display. Books and publications are for the reading pleasure of Le Citron Bistro customers while on the premises and may not be removed.

Vision
We hope to attract researchers and writers to host lectures on related subjects at Le Citron. We have hosted clubs such as the Creole Heritage Education Research Society (CHERS), and the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center as well as the New Orleans Tour Guide Association.

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