The French Quarter is known as the original city or the Vieux Carré, the oldest neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. This is the area the Vampire Lestat loves so much, in addition to the Garden District.
Anne Rice featured St. Louis Church in the Mayfair Witches and Interview with the Vampire. Arron and Beatrice Mayfair got married here.
Anne Rice used this building and both the Mayfair Witches and Interview with the Vampire.
When looking for architectural treasures in New Orleans, the Old Ursuline Convent at 1100 Chartres Street is perhaps one of the finest. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, this beautiful example of French colonial style is thought to be the oldest building and the first permanent structure in the Mississippi Valley. Built in 1752, this is the only remaining French colonial building in the United States.
The Ursuline Sisters came to New Orleans in 1727 and provided to the city the first organized medical care in an area running rampant with disease. The nuns also eventually founded the first local school and orphanage for girls. When visiting the convent, you will see not only the main convent building constructed in 1752, but also St. Mary’s church next door, which was constructed in 1845.
Guided tours are given of the beautiful formal gardens, St. Mary’s church and the first floor of the convent. If you tour the gardens, be sure to explore the herb gardens for which the convent is well known. It was here that a past Ursuline sister learned about the healing effects of plants that spurred her to become the first pharmacist in the United States. Although she was never licensed, she published a book that listed each herb, its curative powers and instructions for use. The herb garden is now planted and maintained by New Orleans chef Horst Pfeffer of Bella Luna restaurant.
Although the convent’s girls school, which was founded in 1727, moved uptown in the 1800s, the Ursuline Academy started by the order is considered to be the oldest girls school in the United States. Today, the Old Ursuline convent is home to the Archdiocesan archives and is known as the “treasure of the Archdiocese”. Although the convent did sustain damage during Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005, repairs have been made and the convent is open for docent-led tours.
Music has always played a dominant role in the history of New Orleans. One edifice where much of the city’s cultural exhibitions took place was at the Theatre d’Orleans. The location of the theatre, between Bourbon and Royal Streets, marked the heart of the New Orleans opera world, and proved to be a popular meeting place for renowned Mardi Gras Krewes.
Although the final incarnation of the building burned in 1919, this pivotal locale was first established in 1809. When the first structure burned in 1813, another was built on the same site for a considerable price tag of $80,000. The theatre was a fashionable venue and around 1817 a stunning ballroom was added to the structure. Although the exterior of the ballroom was said to be extremely plain, the interior was another story. From the crystal chandeliers to the costly dance floor made of three layers of cypress topped with quarter sawn oak, the ballroom was best known as the site for the Bals du Cordon Bleu, otherwise known as the Quadroon Balls, perhaps one of the most celebrated forms of entertainment at the time.
The main theatre was where the cultural elite of New Orleans gathered and opera in the French tradition flourished. When the theatre was sold in 1859, a faction split off from the new owner and the French Opera House Association was formed. This association purchased a nearby plot at Bourbon and Toulouse Street and built a new opera house that was completed on April 9, 1859.
After decades of providing world class performances in opera, the opera house was bought by an anonymous donor and presented to Tulane University. Unfortunately, on December 2, 1919, a fire of unknown origin destroyed the building. Despite the tragic loss of a historic landmark, music and culture continue on as a mainstay in New Orleans.